Home > history, politics, Reflections > Saturday Soliloquy: Stronger Together

Saturday Soliloquy: Stronger Together

Before Bill Clinton became president of the United States, he spoke to the “high cost of remaining silent in the face of genocide.”

His words said one thing; his later acts, quite another.

In 1993, U.S. officials were warned that Rwandan “Hutu extremists were contemplating the extermination of ethnic Tutsis.”

In early April 1994, President Clinton acknowledged in his weekly radio address the genocide just begun in Rwanda. He studiously avoided using the word “genocide” because of the obligations it would invoke, and made clear that his main concern was for the roughly 250 Americans there.

By May 1994, the world had provided Rwanda so little assistance that USA Today‘s editorial board wrote an editorial strongly condemning lack of intervention, which had already led to the needless loss of countless lives. About the U.S., it wrote, “President Clinton, who criticized George Bush for not doing more to stop ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, certainly took his time getting around to this genocide. Only last weekend did he finally deliver a radio address broadcast in Rwanda, pleading for an end to violence. That’s about three weeks–200,000 victims–too slow.”

After I read about this last weekend, I wrote, quotation marks included, “Well, [without] oil & other valuable resources, what good are they to us?”

And yet, even asking the question, I was still shocked to see my suspicions about enduring U.S. inaction confirmed–in other words–by the Clinton administration. It not only made clear that it did not intend to intervene (in addition to taking steps to inhibit other parties from intervening), it indicated it “felt the U.S. had no interests in Rwanda, a small central African country with no minerals or strategic value.”

I paused reading long enough to write, “Oh, shit. They actually said it?!”

From where did my cynicism spring?

The longer answer is: See my Politics page.

The short answer is: I learned it by watching former President Bill Clinton’s wife.

Hillary Clinton’s 2003 vote for the Iraq War has received a lot of attention this election cycle, but this barely scratches the surface of her lethal, calculated interventionism.

In Iraq, as a consequence of such interventionism, Saddam Hussein was toppled and Al-Qaeda’s influence diminished. Sounds like a win, right? It might have been, except that the power vacuum left was filled by the Islamic State, aka ISIS or ISIL.

A few days ago, Hillary Clinton–hereinafter, “Clinton”–said about Iraq that we must learn from our past mistakes. While that would be ideal, Clinton’s own learning is called into question by the fact she repeated similar “mistakes” in Syria and then nigh-utopian Libya, to name a few. In the former, her rejection of ceasefire discussions played a critical role in the consequent carnage that has since displaced hundreds of millions of refugees.

In Syria, her penchant for contesting governments we “don’t like“–that’s to say, ones not open enough to U.S. interests–has proven catastrophic from a human rights perspective. (From an arms deal one, on the other hand, it’s proven quite lucrative.)

Clinton took a similar approach with similar result in Honduras. When President Zelaya was forcibly removed from office, Latin America and the rest of the world called resoundingly for his reinstatement. Instead, Clinton focused on pushing what she bemusingly described as “free and fair elections,” backing the coup responsible to (purportedly) enable such elections.

Bloodshed and instability have been the direct result of this intervention disguised as non-intervention. Almost the entire population of Honduras has been devastated, thanks to Clinton; only the elite, able to afford security forces when influence does not do the trick, might say life is better there thanks to Clinton.

Did I mention weapons deals are lucrative? Just ask Wolf Blitzer, who’s concerned that the U.S. could lose jobs if it stops arming Saudi Arabia in its airstrikes against Yemeni civilians. Under Clinton’s State Department, arms deals increased “nearly double” over the prior administration’s sales during a like time period. Overwhelmingly, the countries that saw increased arms exports from the U.S. were Clinton Foundation donors. While the State Department is supposed to consider a potential recipient’s human rights record, arms deals to some of the world’s worst human rights abusers–Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, for example–proliferated under Clinton.

Today, I am told a vote for anyone but Clinton is a vote for misogyny and against feminism. But as I survey the lives of poor women worldwide devastated by Clinton’s actions to date, I find quite the opposite: a vote for Clinton is a vote for their enduring suffering, for bombs that continue right now to kill their husbands and children while obliterating their homes and hometowns. It’s a vote to keep them down to help prop up governments (and rebels) that play nicer with the U.S.

A vote for Clinton is a vote for human rights only to the extent those human rights benefit Clinton and her interests.

In her longstanding tradition of expecting the masses to fall in line (or should I say, be brought to heel?) after their leader is taken down, Clinton began proclaiming we are “Stronger Together” after she was named the Democratic presidential nominee. What she indubitably meant was that the Democratic party is stronger with Clinton and contender Bernie Sanders supporters unified against Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Looking at Clinton’s history, I find the words more sinister and repellant than unifying. I hear them and envision not her and Bernie arm and arm in shared victory, but her beaming at war criminal Kissinger. Elevating war criminal Kagame.

They are stronger together. We the voters only matter inasmuch as we can cast our votes to expand their power.

As an act of love for all those who struggle to survive after losing their livelihood and loved ones to Clinton- and U.S.-backed regime changes disguised as humanitarianism, and in memory of those who suffered and died needlessly for a U.S. few to stand Stronger Together, I will cast my vote against Clinton’s new Cold War and for a third party.

If that contributes to a Trump presidency, so be it, for

Your Trump fear mongering doesn’t really work as long as I can’t imagine
anything worse than dead children in Gaza, Syria and elsewhere.
@amiraminimd

Recommended readings:

  • Superpredator: Bill Clinton’s Use and Abuse of Black America: I grimaced when I heard Clinton talk about bringing “superpredators” “to heel” a few months ago. Reading this book gave me a much larger, more informed, and disturbing context for that small reflection of an enormous willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve enormous power.
  • Hillary Clinton’s Insane Plan for a No-Fly Zone: “No-Fly Zone” sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it? It’s not. (The fact Clinton supports it is practically evidence enough.)
  • Even Worse Than Clinton’s emails: I recently read Glenn Greenwald’s With Liberty and Justice for Some. If I’d had any doubt afterward that the U.S.’s justice system has two tiers (and I didn’t), this would have undone them, together with reading the FBI’s report on Clinton’s servers and multiple related articles. Had any member of the lower tier of the U.S.’s two-tier justice system set up private servers full of confidential and top secret material, backed it up to the cloud, mailed both a laptop and thumb drive lost in mail after multiple staffers proved incapable of making email archives available otherwise, smashed with a hammer some of the nearly twenty devices used in a three-year stint (of which only three could purportedly actually be located for examination), had staff involved in a work (support) ticket at exactly the time all emails were deleted in principal and back-up after emails were subpoenaed, and turned over at whim only 30,000 of at least nearly 50,000 potentially applicable emails, they would have been crushed. Clinton? Not so much.
  • The Biggest Lie: Clinton, Comey and Intent: See above bullet. Clinton is no peon, so different rules apply to her.
  • Almost everyone gets Russia wrong — apart from Obama: While Clinton hopes exciting antagonism toward Russia will help get her elected, President Obama is here … how do you say? Oh, yes. Sensible.
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  1. Paul
    September 10, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Absolutely Deborah. The man in charge of UN forces in Rwanda, was a Canadian: Lieutenant General Romeo Daillaire. He was on the ground in Rwanda during the genocide and chronicled what it felt like and the consequences of following UN orders in his book: “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda”. There are a lot of intellectual perspectives on this horrific moment in human history, but I have to say I didn’t really feel and understand it until I read Daillaire’s book. It is mind blowing. If you choose to read it, make sure it is not on a full stomach,

    Well said Deborah.

    • September 10, 2016 at 2:04 am

      I’m going to add it to my TBR list, thank you. As I read about this, I can’t begin to describe my horror as I recalled casting my (first ever presidential) vote for Clinton more than two years after this. It was there, but I didn’t see it: not just passive genocide denial, but its active pursuit.

      The last few months have seen a lot of me asking myself how I did not see when it was all out there. Anthony’s tried nudging me toward being glad to see now versus frustrated I didn’t see sooner. It helps, a little.

      But, oh. Reading about Rwanda and how Bill Clinton kept Haitian refugees at Guantanamo for two years, segregating those with AIDS, and dozens of other true horror stories along a similar vein … I’ve been reading horror because it’s less horrifying.

      I can’t change any of what I did before, of course. So … reading, reflecting, speaking in pursuit of peace? These are little things I can do to hopefully leave a slightly better world for my little boys … and other children around the world.

      I greatly appreciate your kindness, Paul.

      • Paul
        September 10, 2016 at 2:31 am

        My pleasure Deborah – I enjoy your writing. I’m with Anthony: there was no way for you to predict Clinton’s behavior (unlike his wife who has a public record). He was the most intelligent President of this generation and it is my opinion that his will was twisted by the political machine behind the scenes. If his post-Presidential work is of any indication, his actions as President were not his own decisions.

        • September 10, 2016 at 5:53 am

          Unfortunately, I voted for Bill in 1996, more than two years after the public Rwanda genocide denial. 😦

          After my recent readings, I reach different conclusions about Bill. Those are less pressing to me since he’s not at the helm this time around, though Hillary has indicated he’ll play a role.

          (The fact Bill told Kevin Spacey House of Cards is 99% real … *shudder* A lot of truth resides in some part jest.)

  2. September 10, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    And … your weekly BOOM! hits target. Thank you, Deb. Even though reading this makes my heart ache … makes me want to hop on the next rocket to Mars, frankly.

    The whole issue of interventionism is so complicated. One of the things I love about Gary Johnson is his opposition to “regime change” … Setting aside the spurious arguments about “American interests” (ie access to oil, minerals, strategic territory, or whatever), it is JUST NOT RIGHT for Americans to force their ideas of how to be upon other sovereign nations. We wouldn’t allow other nations to push their ideas on us, right? I mean, the fear that they might is PRECISELY what Trump is using to activate Islamophobia among his followers.

    And then you have a situation like Rwanda. Failure to intervene resulted in hundreds of thousands (millions?) of deaths.But during WW2, American intervention was probably crucial in ending the European conflict. And now we have Syria … A situation created at least in part by American intervention … Can we in all humanity turn our backs on the desperate victims of the conflict? But if we engage fully in war to crush ISIS, what will be the unintended consequences of that?

    I feel more and more strongly that the answer is not more engagement in fighting. IF we engage, it must be 100% – boots on the ground, no holds barred, win the battle and get out. This fiddling about, selling weapons to people who may or may not be trusted, bombing at long distance and shrugging our shoulders over any “collateral damage” is just unacceptable. But it should be a big “if”. I would much rather see America pour its resources – and they would be immense if they weren’t being poured into weaponry and wars – into humanitarian aid, relocating refugees, rehoming the homeless, healing the sick, feeding the hungry.

    Am I naive? Probably. There just don’t seem to be any real, lasting answers, apart from helping a little here, a little there, as I can.

    • September 10, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      Speaking of heartache, I’m listening to a video that just makes me want to weep: Bashar Ja’afari Syria and US Peace Council Representatives on Syria Press Conference

      A panel of people who recently visited Syria emphatically expressed that there is no civil war; that Syria is under attack by outside forces. While the U.S. government presents Assad as a brutal dictator (in a story we’ve now seen played out repeatedly by the U.S.) whom they’re helping to displace, the speakers emphasize how universally the Syrians they met are proud of their country. There’s universal free healthcare and education. (Makes clear why the U.S. is really there, huh? Can’t let people get these wild ideas about what they should expect!)

      Dr. Henry Lowendorf, one of the speakers, wrote an article about this visit: http://ahtribune.com/opinion/1148-henry-lowendorf.html.

      I want everyone to know. I want everyone to understand our horrific interventions are not about bringing democracy to dictatorships, but the opposite.

      By the same token, I understand how terrifying it is to face the fact that virtually everything presented in media is false. That our representatives’ narratives are false. It’s so much more comfortable to say, “It couldn’t be,” and keep hoping that enough denial will make this true.

      I understand. I am trying, hoping, praying to find ways to speak lovingly and help people feel safe facing this, that we may change it. Better with practice, I hope.

      More in direct response later. For now, I had to say … I share your heartache. Oh, how I share it.

      • Paul
        September 10, 2016 at 4:30 pm

        I’m impressed Deborah. Here we have many immigrant Middle easterners,including Syrians. I’ve spoken to some Syrians at length and they adore their leader and government and say they felt very safe in areas controlled by his military as the military was, without exception, protective and kind to the citizens. They got free education, free health care and lots of social programs. They all point directly at the Americans for the war.

        • September 10, 2016 at 4:33 pm

          Right after typing my last comment, I went to my kitchen and sobbed for a few minutes while starting dinner prep.

          So many lives destroyed to squash democracies that threaten U.S. business.

          So many lives.

          So … returning to my computer and finding this, I just have to say: thank you. And … *hug*

          • Paul
            September 10, 2016 at 4:35 pm

            HUGS

      • September 10, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        I worked as a journalist for a daily newspaper in South Africa. I saw, over and over again, how the thrill of The Scoop was intoxicating! Also, and more disturbing, I saw the growing belief in many of my colleagues that they had a mandate to tell people what to think and how to think. I couldn’t cut it in that environment, frankly … I focused on writing about business and industry because the socially relevant (political, etc) reporting was just too fraught with ethical concerns. The pressure to take sides was horrible. Anyway, that’s why I had to get out of it. I kinda feel ashamed of that … Maybe if I’d been a better journalist I’d have been able to make more sense of the process, and therefore of the world? But I just couldn’t get myself to take it seriously! I’ve said this before … It’s all so ephemeral. So much anguish and intensity over the stuff that lands in the news, while real human lives – suffering or beauty that lasts – is ignored.

  1. September 11, 2016 at 7:35 am

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