Originally published in the April 2016 issue of Liberation Newspaper.
The Clinton campaign always points to her years of “foreign policy experience” as proof of her presidential qualifications. But what was that “experience” really? Was she a progressive defender of democracy who sometimes had to make “hard choices,” as she claims?
The people of the Middle East, Haiti, Honduras, and many other countries know better, having been on the other side of Clinton’s “experience.”
In reality, as Secretary of State and U.S. Senator, Clinton served as a cutthroat operator for U.S. imperialist interests, becoming a favorite among military contractors, energy companies, war hawks and even neoconservative strategists from the Bush administration.
From Iraq to Libya to Syria, she was among the most influential voices pushing for war and aggression.
On the campaign trail, Clinton puts on various characters to try and connect with women in particular: from the tender grandmother to the fierce feminist. That is because the vast majority of women will not be able to relate to Clinton’s real record—decades of bombing innocent families, overthrowing sovereign governments, and backing brutal deaths squads—all of which have devastated women’s lives.
Clinton has hardly been alone in all this. She surrounded herself with a foreign policy establishment that is equally criminal. This includes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who said “we think the price is worth it” when asked on national television if the death of the 500,000 Iraqi children was an acceptable consequence for U.S. sanctions on Iraq.
Libya is now known widely as “Hillary’s war” because of her key role in pushing that intervention—in fact against a more reluctant President Obama and Defense Department. From being the most developed and wealthiest country in Africa, Libya now stands in ruins, completely devastated and divided by NATO bombing and civil war between competing militias.
When Libya’s nationalist head of state Muammar Gadaffi was gruesomely assassinated by U.S.-backed rebels, Clinton was recorded laughing about it. Now ISIS controls a wide swath of Libya’s territory.
Clinton attempted to justify the war against Libya on humanitarian terms. She argued there would be a slaughter of civilians in Libya, but even the Defense Intelligence Agency—the Pentagon’s version of the CIA—did not find evidence that there would be an impending genocide in Libya. Like in her vote for the invasion of Iraq, she ignored the facts when she saw what appeared to be an “easy” opportunity to take out a sovereign government.
Under Libya’s previous nationalist government, polygamy was banned and husbands were forbidden from restricting their wives’ mobility. After the NATO-backed “rebels” took over, the Libyan courts overturned these laws. A new law was passed stating that sexual violence against women is a “crime against a woman’s honor and family,” not the woman as an individual, which reflects a strict interpretation of religious law supported by the new rulers of Libya. Of course, the rule of ISIS and other arch-reactionary religious forces can only be understood as a complete catastrophe for women’s rights.
But the catastrophe for Libyans and the region was immediately deemed a success to be emulated by Clinton and her team. In Syria, she called for active support of the armed opposition, including extreme right-wing religious forces. This effort was closely coordinated with Saudi Arabia, a country where women have virtually no rights at all—but which has donated tremendously to the Clinton Foundation.
Thirteen years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq is still in chaos. Clinton actively supported the war drive and voted for it. The occupation authority and its successors reversed gains in women’s employment and the right to education and health. Over 1 million people died.
Millions have become refugees from Iraq, Libya and Syria as the U.S. divide-and-conquer strategy shredded these states. As social order breaks down, women are targets to an even greater degree for sexual violence, rape, kidnappings and trafficking.
Some bourgeois and liberal feminist organizations are supporting Clinton and claim she is a feminist. In part, this reflects their limited view of feminism—focusing on formal, legal equality between men and women without addressing the system that creates inequality—capitalism.
But the truth is that Clinton is not a feminist of any type. Her lukewarm support of some women’s right causes is just a fig leaf to cover her real program in the service of the country’s ruling elite.