Prof. Rodriguez Tremblay
April 16, 2016
“Few things are more dangerous than empires pushing their own interest in the belief they are doing humanity a favor.” -Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) British historian, June 10, 2003
“It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq…” -Bill Clinton (1946- ), The neocon-sponsored Iraq Liberation Act, signed by President Clinton into law, in 1998
“I’m going to ask for his ideas, I’m going ask for his advice, and I’m going use him [former President Bill Clinton] as a goodwill emissary to go around the country to find the best ideas we’ve got, because I do believe, as he said, everything that’s wrong with America has been solved somewhere in America.” -Hillary Clinton (1947- ), during a debate on January 17, 2016
“I’ll tell you how good our military is doing under [former CIA Director] Michael Hayden and people such as this. We’ve been fighting wars in the Middle East for 15 years, 18 years. We were in for four or five trillion dollars; we don’t know what we’re doing; we don’t know who we’re fighting; we’re arming people that we want on our side, we don’t know who they are.
When they take over a country, they’re worse than people they depose.” -Donald Trump (1946- ), in a response to a public letter by establishment national security so-called ‘experts’
Polls indicate that most of the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates, with a few exceptions, have more than 50 % negative ratings. Also, poll after poll, after poll show that most Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are, and some are even outspokenly “angry” at the current situation. The polls also indicate a high degree of polarization.
That may also explain why two of the leading presidential candidates this year, Democratic Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, are both proposing anti-establishment and populist policies to get the United States out of its current rut.
On the domestic front, each, if elected, would advance economic policies designed to assist the American middle class, which has been decimated after nearly thirty years of economic and financial globalization and from so-called “trade deals” which have mainly benefited large corporations and mega banks, because they are essentially “investment and financial deals”, before being bona fide “trade deals”.
On foreign policy, both would like to extricate the U.S. from costly wars abroad that have been going on for so long. Most of these wars have been the pet projects of pro-Israel neoconservatives (shortened to neocons), inside and outside the U.S. government, ever since the latter de facto took over American foreign policy, after the end of the Cold War, in 1991.
It is indeed well documented that prominent neocons became very influential during the Bush I and Bush II administrations, in 1989-1993 and in 2001-2009. Many people remember how characters such as Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, …etc. used different tactics to push the United States into a never-ending imperialistic war, branded as “preemptive wars” in the Middle East, beginning with an unprovoked military aggression against Iraq, in 2003.
But, even if this has been less publicized, neocons have also played important roles in the Bill Clinton administration (1993-2001) and in the current Barack Obama administration (2009-2017), in promoting a series of wars abroad, especially in the Middle East and in Europe, and in sowing the seeds of financial crises at home.
Since Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has publicly declared that she intends to consult with her former-president husband, if she becomes president, it is of paramount importance to know what this means. Indeed, the question can be raised as to the likelihood that a Hillary Clinton’s presidency could be, in fact, some sort of a third term for the Clinton couple in the White House.
I have previously identified three major crises, which have their origin during the Bill Clinton administration.
Let us summarize them here and add a few more:
1-The de facto rekindling of a Cold War II with Russia
History will record that President Bill Clinton broke a promise made by his predecessor, President George H. Bush, that the U.S. government would not expand NATO into Eastern Europe, if Russia were to disband the Warsaw Pact. As we know, during his 1996 reelection campaign, on October 22,1996, President Clinton thought to be to his political advantage to promise an enlargement of NATO to include Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Nobody realized at the time that this heralded the beginning of a new cold war with Russia.
What is less well known is the fact that Ms. Hillary Clinton, when she was State Secretary in the Obama administration, appointed a prominent neocon, Victoria Nuland, wife of leading neocon Robert Kagan, to the post of Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. Ms. Nuland was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs a few years later, in May 2013, in the same Democratic administration of Barack Obama. Previously, she had served as the principal deputy foreign policy adviser to Republican Vice President Dick Cheney in the George W. Bush administration, and later as U.S. ambassador to NATO.
Ms. Nuland is considered to be the key person in charge of provoking Russia into a Cold War II. (This is an indication that in Washington D.C., one can go easily from a Republican administration to a Democratic administration, provided one belongs to the neocon brotherhood).
2- The Clinton administration engineered the demise of the United Nations in 1998-1999
President Bill Clinton played a major role in undermining the credibility of the United Nations when he decided, in 1998 and in 1999, to enter the Kosovo War in Yugoslavia without an explicit mandate from the U.N. Security Council, as the 1945 U.N. Charter mandates. This was a very dangerous precedent.
Only a few years later, his successor, President George W. Bush invoked that precedent to launch the 2003 Iraq War, again with no outright mandate from the U.N. Security Council. Therefore, it can be said that President Bill Clinton bears an obvious responsibility for the current international state of anarchy, considering that the United Nations, for all practical purpose, has been sidelined in favor of NATO, to pursue U.S.-led imperialistic wars, which are waged outside of the international legal framework of the United Nations Charter and even in opposition to the Nuremberg Principles, which define military aggression as a crime against peace.
In 1991, few people anticipated that the collapse of the Soviet Union would eventually bring about the collapse of the United Nations, which has de facto been reduced to the same influence that the old League of Nations had before World War II.
3- Bill Clinton Sowed the Seeds of the 2008 Subprime Financial Crisis in 1999
On November 12, 1999, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Republican-sponsored Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which effectively removed the separation that previously existed under the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 between investment banking, which issue securities, and commercial banks that accept government insured deposits.
Before 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act made it illegal for a bank holding FDIC-insured deposits to invest in anything other than government bonds and similarly low-risk vehicles. With his signature, however, President Clinton allowed largely unregulated super large banks and large insurance companies to engage in risky financial practices, as they are known to have done historically and as it should have been expected. The banks and insurance companies’ new financial products collapsed, and that led to the devastating 2008 financial crisis.
While Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has said that he would fully reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, his opponent, former Secretary Hillary Clinton, has said that she would not reinstate the banking law, preferring instead to rely on measures to better control so-called shadow banking.
4- The 2003 Iraq War Began in 1998: President Bill Clinton’s Iraq Liberation Act of 1998
On February 19, 1998, a group of prominent neocons (Robert Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Richard Perle, …etc.) anxious to get the United States involved in wars in the Middle East, wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton. They were offering him a strategy for “the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power” in Iraq.
President Clinton did not immediately go to war to please the neocons, after all he was nearing the end of his term, but he did sign the Republican-sponsored Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, on October 31, 1998, stating that “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq….” That law opened the door for an American-led war against Iraq.
Indeed, President George W. Bush, in search for bi-partisan support for his planned war against Iraq, cited President Clinton’s Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 as a basis of support for the Congressional Authorization for use of Military Force Against Iraq of October 2002. We can say that President Bill Clinton set the U.S. government on a warpath against Iraq as early as 1998, and he therefore must share some responsibility for the disasters that have since resulted from that war.
5- Hillary Clinton’s Own Personal War of Aggression in Libya, (with false and misleading claims, and resulting in a huge refugee crisis)
President Barack Obama was reluctant to duplicate George W. Bush’s disaster with his military invasion of Iraq in 2003. That is why, in 2011, he hesitated to launch a new American war of aggression, this time against Libya, even though neocons inside and outside his administration were pushing hard for such a war. The latter country, headed by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, had the misfortune of having been singled out in the neocons’ grand plan as one of the Arab countries the neocons wished to overthrow and to destabilize the entire Middle East, using for that purpose the U.S. military to do Israel’s heavy lifting.
At the time, two heavyweights in the Obama administration, vice president Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, were both adamantly opposed to getting the U.S. government and its military involved in another neocon-inspired ‘regime-change war’ in the Middle East. That wasn’t counting on the neocons’ main ally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Indeed, Hillary Clinton overcame the Biden-Gates’ formidable opposition to a U.S. military intervention in Libya by persuading a weak President Obama that Libyan President Gaddafi had a supposed plan to carry a “genocide” against his own people and that the U.S government had a “responsibility to protect” to avoid such a “genocide”, no matter what international law said. There is a dictum in French that “he who wants to kill his dog accuses him of having rabies”!
Such a proposal was in conformity with the precedent created by her president husband, Bill Clinton, who bombed Yugoslavia under similar circumstances, outside of international law, in 1998 and in 1999. It was also ironic that the President would side with her, considering that Barack Obama himself had campaigned against candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008, arguing that she had endorsed Bush’s 2003 Iraq-war policies.