What did we learn from the Democratic presidential debates? We learned that Hillary Clinton hates Edward Snowden, loves the Patriot Act, and considers “the Iranians” among her biggest enemies. In short, we learned that she may very well be Lindsey Graham in drag.
And we also learned what many already knew: that she considers herself above the law. What we didn’t know, however, but do now, is that Bernie Sanders agrees with her. Or, as he put it:
“Let me say — let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.”
To begin with, it is not true that the American people don’t care about this issue: a whopping 58 percent tell pollsters that Mrs. Clinton “knowingly lied” when she said there was no classified information on her private email server. Does Bernie think Americans want to be ruled by liars? Her popularity has plummeted ever since the existence of her secret server was revealed: voters don’t think she’s trustworthy. Sixty-six percent believe her lax practices endangered national security, and majority of voters want a criminal probe of her actions.
Bernie is right about one thing, though: the American people are sick and tired – although their weariness isn’t due to hearing about the email scandal. What they’re sick and tired of is the Clintons’ belief that they are above the law. Because several laws were broken by Mrs. Clinton when she decided to keep her official correspondence as Secretary of State secret, the two biggies being the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act. The former requires public access to the doings of government officials: the latter specifically forbids officials from maintaining a private email server or account to do government business. Yet that is precisely what Mrs. Clinton did.
Aside from the whole issue of the rule of law, and the Clintonian view that it doesn’t apply to Hillary, the issue here is one of transparency vs. secrecy. A government whose officials operate in the shadows, and conduct the people’s business off-the-record, is a rogue operation. And one has to ask: why was this elaborate private server system set up the day she took over the State Department? The answer can only be that the then Secretary of State believed she had something to hide.
Speaking of having something to hide: Hillary wasn’t all that forthcoming during the debate, either. I’m only dealing here with the very few minutes given over to foreign policy questions, but one major example was in her discussion of Syria.
She explained that she wants to “take more of a leadership position on Syria,” and this involves the US military providing “safe zones so that people are not going to have to be flooding out of Syria at the rate they are.”
Bernie replied with a peacenik-sounding peroration about how Syria is “a quagmire within a quagmire” and went on to specify that he doesn’t support putting US troops “on the ground.” Hillary parried his thrust with the interjection that “Nobody does,” and this exchange really underscores their combined dishonesty. Because maintaining a “no-fly zone,” as advocated by Hillary (and supposedly opposed by Bernie) doesn’t involve troops on the ground – they’ll be in the air, flying US fighter jets.
You’ll note that Bernie, while averring that a no-fly zone would create “some problems” – without saying what those problems would be – and stating his opposition to putting American troops on the ground, carefully stayed mum about the actual situation in Syria, where our proxy troops – the Syrian Islamist rebels – are fighting alongside al-Qaeda to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. He isn’t against those US-armed “troops on the ground.”
And, of course, neither is Hillary, who authored the policy that put them there, and who resigned when her push to expand the program – and initiate US bombing raids on Assad’s strongholds – was initially vetoed by the President and then nixed by overwhelming public opposition.
What she wanted was a replication of our intervention in Libya, and during the debate she lied with a mostly straight face – although that perpetual knowing smirk she routinely employs was still visible – about the outcome of that disastrous exercise in regime change:
“We had a murderous dictator, Gadhafi, who had American blood on his hands, as I’m sure you remember, threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people. We had our closest allies in Europe burning up the phone lines begging us to help them try to prevent what they saw as a mass genocide, in their words. And we had the Arabs standing by our side saying, ‘We want you to help us deal with Gadhafi.’
“Our response, which I think was smart power at its best, is that the United States will not lead this. We will provide essential, unique capabilities that we have, but the Europeans and the Arabs had to be first over the line. We did not put one single American soldier on the ground in Libya.
“…And the Libyan people had a free election the first time since 1951. And you know what, they voted for moderates, they voted with the hope of democracy. Because of the Arab Spring, because of a lot of other things, there was turmoil to be followed.”
The truth is that there was no imminent genocide, and Gaddafi did not threaten any such thing. It was all propaganda designed to justify our intervention. Indeed, it has since come out that Gaddafi was desperately trying to come to some accord, and US intelligence was in touch with one of his sons – but Hillary the hawk would have none of it, and Libyan entreaties were rebuffed.
An ancillary lie is that we were “leading from behind,” as the President put it at the time, when in reality our role was much greater than we wanted the world to know. We spent about $1 billion on covert operations on Libyan soil: US officials directed the movement of rebel troops as they swept across the country, while an “allied” armada, consisting mostly of US warships, stood at the ready off the coast. Surveillance, resupplying aircraft with munitions, refueling jet fighters, and generally overseeing the battle plan were tasks that fell to the Americans. But that’s not all: US aircraft carried out over 5,000 missions over Libya during the conflict. A US battleship shot down Gaddafi’s SCUD missiles.
And of course there were US personnel on the ground, although the CIA is unlikely to tell us how many or in what capacity.
What is really galling, however, is to hear Mrs. Clinton hail this bloody disaster as “smart power at its best.” Libya today is a fulcrum of chaos and terrorist activity, with al-Qaeda and ISIS swarming all over every province of that country and two rival “governments” vying for power.
If this is “smart power at its best” I’d hate to see it at its worst.
Hillary Clinton is a character straight out of Machiavelli’s playbook who thrives on secrecy, operating in the dark while claiming that everything is open and above-board. Her remark, during the debate that she’s been “as transparent as I know how to be” was exactly correct – because she is simply incapable of telling the truth. Dishonesty is part of her make-up – although she does occasionally blurt out the truth. One such incident occurred when she was asked, during the debate, who she considers to be her enemies. One of her answers – the woman has lots of enemies – was “the Iranians.” Which should give us some insight into the fate of President Obama’s Iran deal if and when she comes to sit in the Oval Office.
With such a person as commander-in-chief, the American republic is going to be in mortal danger. If she wins the Democratic nomination, and the general election, get ready for constant wars, and constant lies.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.