That Hillary Clinton is a warmonger is no secret, much as she tries to hide it. It comes out despite her recent attempts, as she tries to win the Democratic nomination, at downplaying her role in advocating for military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, all of which have turned out to be disastrous. But a speech she gave at an event that occurred last month that did not get much attention shows that her war-loving aspect is not far from the surface.
Following her speech on December 6, in response to a question from the audience as to what they US should do if Iran were to violate the terms of the deal that had been struck, she made the extraordinary statement “What I said and what I mean is that there will have to be consequences for any violation by Iran and that the nuclear option should not at all be taken off the table. That has been my position consistently.”
Her statement caused some to gasp in surprise and there was much murmuring in the crowd and one person in the audience, who was later identified as US Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, interjected with an inaudible comment that caused her to say that what she had meant ro say was to advocate for a military option, not a nuclear one.
The idea of wanting to use military force at the slightest provocation is the main characteristic of a warmonger and so this merely confirms what we all know, or should know, about her. But the idea that she would use nuclear weapons on Iran merely for violations of a treaty indicated a level of extremism that would have made Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or Chris Christie or any of the pugnacious Republicans proud. Even Donald Trump is less extreme than Clinton when it comes to the Middle East.
Her apologists suggest that she had merely made a slip of the tongue. Others are taking it more seriously, that this was a Freudian slip in that she inadvertently blurted out what she would really like to do, instead of using coded language.
But there is another possibility and that is that this was deliberate on her part. She was after all speaking at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The founder of the center is Haim Saban, a multi-billionaire Israeli-American film and television producer who is a prominent Democratic party donor and, like Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer, favors hardline anti-Palestinian policies by the Israeli government. Saban had previously said that if he were running Israel, “I would bomb the living daylights out of these sons of bitches” (i.e., Iran) if he deemed that the Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal was not good for Israel. The audience also contained prominent Israelis and members of the Israeli lobby. It is quite likely that Clinton thought that advocating the use of nuclear weapons against Iran would go down well with this crowd. But when she received some pushback, especially from Breyer, she was forced to backtrack a bit. She can now try to have it both ways, indicate with a nod and a wink to the Israel lobby that she is willing to use nuclear weapons on Iran, while at the same time assuring the Democratic party base that has grown tired of warmongering that she did not really mean it. .
Philip Weiss was one of the few commentators who pointed out the incredible levels pandering to the hardline Israeli right in her speech.
Yesterday Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Washington at the Saban Forum of Brookings that included more pandering to Israel than any speech I’ve heard from any American politician. It was endless. Israel is a brave democracy, a light unto the nations, a miracle, its “prowess in war” is “inspiring,” and we must take the US-Israel relationship to the “next level.”
Introduced by her good friend the Israeli-American megadonor, Haim Saban, Clinton bragged that she and Israel were born a few months apart, gave a shoutout to Israel’s former lawyer in the White House, Dennis Ross, and assured Ari Shavit the rightwing Israeli columnist that the military option was still on the table with Iran. In fact, she repeatedly slammed Iran as a bad actor and did all she could to distance herself from the Iran deal and from secretary of state John Kerry, who gave a more realistic speech the day before. She never mentioned the occupation, vaguely touched on settlements as a problem, and praised the late Clintonite Sandy Berger as a “steadfast friend to Israel.”
Just as the Republican candidates had attacked Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) at the Republican Jewish Coalition last week, Clinton said that BDS was hurting the U.S.’s ability to fight terrorism. This is language straight out of Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
We can be in little doubt that whatever else she might do as president, when it comes to the Middle East, Clinton will be very solicitous of the needs of the Israel lobby.