There’s no doubt that Hillary is the candidate of Wall Street. Even more dangerous, though, is that she is the candidate of the military-industrial complex. The idea that she is bad on the corporate issues but good on national security has it wrong. Her so-called foreign policy “experience” has been to support every war demanded by the U.S. deep security state run by the military and the CIA.
Hillary and Bill Clinton’s close relations with Wall Street helped to stoke two financial bubbles (1999-2000 and 2005-8) and the Great Recession that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In the 1990s they pushed financial deregulation for their campaign backers that in turn let loose the worst demons of financial manipulation, toxic assets, financial fraud and eventually collapse. In the process they won elections and got mighty rich.
Yet Hillary’s connections with the military-industrial complex are also alarming. It is often believed that the Republicans are the neocons and the Democrats act as restraints on the warmongering. This is not correct. Both parties are divided between neocon hawks and cautious realists who don’t want the United States in unending war. Hillary is a staunch neocon whose record of favoring U.S. war adventures explains much of our current security danger.
By 2003, Hillary was a senator and a staunch supporter of the Iraq War, which has cost the United States trillions of dollars and thousands of lives and done more to create ISIS and Middle East instability than any other single decision of modern foreign policy. In defending her vote, Hillary parroted the phony propaganda of the CIA:
“In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members…”
Hillary’s record as secretary of state is among the most militaristic, and disastrous, of modern U.S. history. Some experience. Hillary was a staunch defender of the military-industrial-intelligence complex at every turn, helping to spread the Iraq mayhem over a swath of violence that now stretches from Mali to Afghanistan. Two disasters loom largest: Libya and Syria.
Hillary has been much attacked for the deaths of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, but her tireless promotion of the overthrow Muammar Qaddafi by NATO bombing is the far graver disaster. Hillary strongly promoted NATO-led regime change in Libya, not only in violation of international law but counter to the most basic good judgment. After the NATO bombing, Libya descended into civil war while the paramilitaries and unsecured arms stashes in Libya quickly spread west across the African Sahel and east to Syria. The Libyan disaster has spawned war in Mali, fed weapons to Boko Haram in Nigeria and fueled ISIS in Syria and Iraq. In the meantime, Hillary found it hilarious to declare of Qaddafi: “We came, we saw, he died.”
Perhaps the crowning disaster of this long list of disasters has been Hillary’s relentless promotion of CIA-led regime change in Syria. Once again Hillary bought into the CIA propaganda that regime change to remove Bashar al-Assad would be quick, costless, and surely successful. In August 2011, Hillary led the United States into disaster with her declaration that Assad must “get out of the way,” backed by secret CIA operations.
Five years later, no place on the planet is more ravaged by unending war, and no place poses a greater threat to U.S. security. More than 10 million Syrians are displaced, and the refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean or undermining the political stability of Greece, Turkey and the European Union. Amid the chaos created by the secret CIA-Saudi operations to overthrow Assad, ISIS has filled the vacuum, and has used Syria as the base for worldwide terrorist attacks.
The list of her incompetence and warmongering goes on. Hillary’s support at every turn for NATO expansion, including even into Ukraine and Georgia against all common sense, was a trip wire that violated the post-Cold War settlement in Europe in 1991 and that led to Russia’s violent counter-reactions in both Georgia and Ukraine. As Senator in 2008, Hillary co-sponsored 2008-SR439, to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO. As secretary of state, she then presided over the restart of the Cold War with Russia.
It is hard to know the roots of this record of disaster. Is it chronically bad judgment? Is it her preternatural faith in the lying machine of the CIA? Is it a repeated attempt to show that as a Democrat she would be more hawkish than the Republicans? Is it to satisfy her hardline campaign financiers? Who knows? Maybe it’s all of the above. But whatever the reasons, hers is a record of disaster. Perhaps more than any other person, Hillary can lay claim to having stoked the violence that stretches from West Africa to Central Asia and that threatens U.S. security.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute and Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia University. An earlier version of this article appeared at commondreams.org.