The Most Dangerous Candidate

U.S. Conducts Airstrikes Against ISIS in Libya reads The New York Times’ August 1 headline, capturing virtually everything wrong with US foreign interventionism. Tracing the strands emanating from that headline regrettably requires a deep dive into an ideological and moral cesspool, on which Hillary Clinton luxuriates in a floating lounge chair, sunning herself and sipping a piña colada, evidently not put off by the stench.

What’s ISIS doing in Libya? It’s an offshoot of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, which is an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq. That group was formed from an embittered core of Sunnis dispossessed of positions and property and jailed by the US government-installed majority Shiite government after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Al Qaeda’s family tree starts with the mujahideen in Afghanistan, who were backed by Presidents Carter and Reagan in their war against the Soviet Union. The goal was to draw the Soviet Union into a protracted and debilitating quagmire.

The strategy worked, but not without unfortunate consequences. Allies can turn into enemies. The leader of the mujahideen, Osama bin Laden, became the US’s implacable foe after the US set up permanent military bases in Saudi Arabia, home of sacred Islamic shrines Medina and Mecca, during the first invasion of Iraq in 1990. His anger was reportedly the impetus behind 9/11. The Afghanistan success also taught US policymakers a “lesson” they would have been better off not learning: supporting local groups in armed conflict could produce low-cost, desirable outcomes.

Clinton supported the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. She claims it was a mistake now, but the invasion was, in light of later events, fully consistent with her stance on US interventionism. In subsequent situations, she has repeated her Iraq “mistake.” Afghanistan and Iraq were the first neoconservative forays into regime change and replacement with US-compliant governments, securing oil supplies, and nation building on the way to an efflorescence of democracy and increased regional toleration of Israel.

That’s not the way things have worked out. After a financial tally in the trillions of dollars, thousands of military casualties, and a civilian death toll in the millions, Afghanistan and Iraq are sectarian hell holes, beset by ISIS; US military forces are still present in both nations (Afghanistan counts as the longest war in US history); US intervention has been a major spur for Islamic extremism and blowback terrorism, and Afghans and Iraqis are part of the refugee flood overwhelming Europe.

There is no darker stain on Clinton’s record than Libya. The brutal regime change that led to chaos in Iraq was repeated in Libya, except the death by sodomy of Muammar Gaddafi was more grisly than Saddam Hussein’s comparatively dignified hanging. She was the prime proponent within the Obama administration of the Libyan fiasco, remembering everything but learning nothing from Iraq. Donald Trump’s campaign would be well advised to show Clinton’s infamous, “We came, we saw, he died…cackle” video over and over, juxtaposed with scenes of the chaos that has engulfed Libya, where three rival “governments” contest for control of the country. And let’s not forget Benghazi.

Clinton, her neoconservative cohorts, and the US’s Sunni allies in the Middle East—Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey—have their hearts set on yet another regime change in Syria. (Many of these allies have made large donations to the Clinton foundation.) One shudders to think of the death they have envisioned for Shiite Bashar Assad if they’re successful. Clinton fully supports the US’s muddled policy of getting rid of Assad by using Islamic extremists pursuing the same goal. The US has quietly succored ISIS and affiliated jihadists while appearing to fight them, and has done nothing to stop its allies from doing the same.

However, they have been stymied by the Russia-Iranian-Hezbollah alliance, which has proven far more effective against ISIS and its affiliates than the US alliance. Clinton’s proposed response? Institute a no-fly zone over northern Syria, potentially risking a confrontation with the Russian air force and stifling its ability to fight ISIS.

Clinton continues to embrace neoconservative goals, presumably expecting different results than the chaos, instability, inability of the US to disengage, blowback terrorism, and refugee flows which mark their strategy as an abysmal failure. Per Einstein’s famous dictum, that’s insanity. Failed as it has in second-tier countries throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, the idea of directing it towards Russia, the world’s second strongest military power, is beyond insanity. Yet, there has been no more vociferous supporter of the US effort to stigmatize and replace Vladimir Putin, and isolate and provoke Russia, than Clinton.

Accept as gospel US government and media propaganda concerning Ukraine since 2014 and policy there still amounts to deranged. Even if the revolution in 2014 was spontaneous and had no US sponsorship, even if the duly elected and deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, was corrupt, authoritarian, and a Russian pawn, even if the annexation of Crimea by Russia contravened international law, even if the rebellion in eastern Ukraine has been supported by Russia, so what? By what rational calculation does the US have an interest in Ukraine?

It’s been part of Russia for most of its history and was the doorway for Napoleon’s and Hitler’s invasions. The administration of Petro Poroshenko is stocked with neo-Nazis and is no less corrupt, incompetent, or repressive than the one it replaced. The country is bankrupt, dependent on IMF bailouts that break its own rules. Russia’s only port on the Black Sea, Sevastopol, is in Crimea and a substantial majority of its populace would rather align with Russia than hapless Ukraine. Belying US rhetoric about Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, Putin has not moved to take it over, although his forces could do so in a week or two.

If they did, it would take—judging from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—at least a century for the US to “liberate” it, absent resort to nuclear weaponry. Ukraine is as vital an interest to Russia as Canada and Mexico are to the US. Any Russian attempt to insert itself into Canadian or Mexican affairs to the same extent as the US has inserted itself into Ukraine’s would rightly be regarded as provocative, demanding a response that could escalate into war.

So far Russia has demonstrated restraint, although the government and media have tried to portray Russia military exercises within Russia as aggressive. Russia appears intent on securing its sphere of influence. The US has insisted on securing its sphere of influence since the promulgation of the Monroe doctrine in 1823. The Crimean annexation and aiding eastern Ukraine’s rebels fit Russian aims, but there is no evidence to support the endlessly repeated claim that Russia and Putin are bent on reconstituting the old USSR and eventual world domination. Attempting to dominate the world is a much more accurate description of US policy. The only purposes of US aggression towards Russia in Ukraine and eastern Europe has been to try to diminish Putin in Russia (which has failed) and to goad his government into a military response, which would provide cover for a US military response. Maybe Putin should make a large donation to the Clinton Foundation.

Fortunately the US effort, fully supported by Clinton but questioned by Donald Trump, has to date not worked. Both countries can inflict global nuclear devastation. Putting Russia’s safety in doubt, backing it into a corner from which it has no other choice but to fight, would be suicidal, beyond insane.

Yet that is the policy Clinton has pushed. Victoria Nuland, wife of neoconservative doyen Robert Kagan and a staunch neoconservative in her own right, stands accused of stage managing Ukraine’s 2014 “revolution” and is an ardent hardliner against Russia. She is a contender for Clinton’s Secretary of State. Clinton has likened Putin to Hitler and accused Russia of hacking DNC emails, a charge for which only the flimsiest of proof has been offered.

The Democrats, the mainstream media, and various “important people” within the intelligence community have spun tales of undue influence and a “bromance” between Trump and Vladimir Putin. For argument’s sake accept that as true. Wouldn’t a measure of amity between the Russian and US heads of state be vastly preferable to escalating tension? Negotiation or nuclear holocaust? Which is the most dangerous policy, and who is the most dangerous candidate?

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Robert Gore

Robert Gore was born in 1958 in Livermore, California. He grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where both his parents worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His undergraduate education was at UCLA. He graduated in 1980 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in economics and political science. He completed the JD/MBA program at UC Berkeley in 1984. He held part-time jobs throughout undergraduate and graduate school. He passed the bar exam and is an inactive member of the California Bar Association. Mr. Gore’s career in finance began in 1984 with a bank in San Francisco, trading municipal bonds. In 1985, he went to a Wall Street firm’s west coast municipal bond office in Los Angeles as a bond trader. He developed its block and institutional sales capabilities and after four years was promoted to manager of the region.