Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jawdropping: It's Obama vs. Hillary -- again -- and this time, I'm on HIS side

My jaw has hit the floor. I didn't expect this.

I really, really wish that the headlines ran some other way. I really, really wish that Hillary Clinton had said something other than what she said.

As you know, I was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries. Well, technically, I was a strong opponent of Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton just happened to be the only thing standing between him and the nomination. Over time, I came to be truly for her, not just against Obama.

I do not regret my stance. In many ways, Obama has been nightmarish for the Democratic party. Perhaps he has not been quite as nightmarish as feared, but still -- a nightmare.

Incidentally, our fellow blogger and PUMA leader Riverdaughter (who happens to have an amusing column today), seems to be under the impression that the Hillary-vs-Obama contest was all about the wee-wees. Obviously, we are long overdue for a female president -- that should have happened a century or two ago -- but for me, policy concerns trump wee-wee concerns.

In 2008, I favored Hillary on policy. And experience. And -- dare I mention it? -- the Clinton brand name.

Well, she still possesses the name and the experience. But the policy...? Good lord, what has happened to this woman?

She thinks that ISIS was created by the "failure" to arm the Syrian rebels.
In an interview with me earlier this week, she used her sharpest language yet to describe the "failure" that resulted from the decision to keep the U.S. on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian uprising.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

As she writes in her memoir of her State Department years, Hard Choices, she was an inside-the-administration advocate of doing more to help the Syrian rebellion. Now, her supporters argue, her position has been vindicated by recent events.
No no no no. No. NO!

We have established what happened. Such things are known. If Hillary Clinton possessed all the sheep in Scotland, she still could not compile enough wool to pull over our eyes. Not on this issue, not at this point in history.

What happened in Syria is not a matter of opinion. Facts are facts. You know the saying: We are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. And it is a hard historical fact that the American people strongly opposed giving any open aid to the Syrian rebels -- and for good reason.

I have scored Hillary on this point before, in a post about her book. But now she is making bullshit revisionist history the centerpiece of her strategy to distance herself from Obama.

Meanwhile, Obama is taking a line that -- while not fully candid -- is far more credible than what Hillary is saying.
The president, though not mentioning his former secretary of state by name, said such a plan was unlikely to work and was never going to happen.

“This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards,” the president said.
There is a lot of truth in this, although Obama cannot allow himself to utter the truth. He can't admit that America bears much responsibility for this disaster.

Let's get real. There were no "moderate" rebels in Syria -- at least, none with any chance of success.

ISIS was created by Saudi Arabia and Qatar with the blessing of Washington. We even trained some of the warriors. We were so gung-ho about toppling Assad, we even allowed full-on jihadi maniacs -- guys who had earned a permanent spot on any no-fly list -- to travel in and out of the United States. We were able to track their travel in real time.

The "moderate" factions within the anti-Assad coalition were always nothing more than rhetorical window-dressing for the westerners, and everyone has always known this fact. It was an open secret. The U.K.'s Daily Telegraph (no-one's notion of a radical left-wing rag) published these words in June:
The Western campaign to dislodge President Assad of Syria was another contributing factor. While our leaders were ready to call for Assad to go, they were unwilling to intervene directly to dislodge him. Instead, mainly through allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the West supported militant rebel groups which have since mutated into Isis and other al‑Qaeda connected militias.

The comparison with the terrible mistakes made by Western intelligence agencies during the Afghan war against the Soviets is startling. We supported al‑Qaeda, which later turned on us.
It is time for President Obama and David Cameron to acknowledge that we have been helping to sponsor terror for the past few decades. We have to choose new allies, and they must include Iran.
They must also include Bashar Assad.

And I say that speaking as someone who detests Assad.

I also detested Saddam Hussein. But the sad fact is, America cannot back any scheme to bring down a Middle Eastern tyranny unless we have a proper replacement waiting in the wings. Why remove a secular despotism in order to bring about an even worse religious despotism (or, as in Iraq, the constant threat of religious civil war)?

The region needs a truly democratic, popular and secular political movement.

Such a movement seems unthinkable right now. But there was a time when the Arabic world was modernizing. Changes in female fashion tell the story: If you fire up Google Images, you can see pictures of Afhgan and Egyptian women as they were in the 1960s, wearing smart western clothing and moving about freely in public.

You know what put a stop to all that? To a large degree, the key factor The United States. We weren't fully responsible, but we participated.

At the time, in our minds, secularism was linked to Nasser, whom we considered far too close to the USSR.

When I was a boy, we were all taught in school that only an internal rebellion of "Moslems" (as we then called them) could bring an end to the Soviet Union. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama's former mentor (and Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor) certainly thought that way. He initiated the policy of secretly encouraging Islamic fundamentalism: "What's a few riled up Muslims?" he famously said. In Iran, when the Shah looked poised for a fall, even the Ayatollah Khomeini was considered preferable to the socialist Tudeh party.

That's why we are where we are today. Anyone in the Middle East willing to fight for a revolution is going to want an Islamic revolution. An earlier generation might have conceived of other possibilities, but this generation cannot.

If Hillary wants our support, she should stop serving up bullshit history and give us the real stuff. America backed the wrong side in the Syrian civil war.

There is simply no way the toppling of Bashar Assad can result in anything other than the rise of a maniacal Sunni power.

If Hillary still wants us to believe in the existence of "moderate" Syrian rebels, all I can say is: Come off it. The moderates were always as mythical as Slender Man and the Easter Bunny.

(By the way, even if those moderate rebels did exist, and even if they had been successful in Syria, the jihadis still would have moved on to Iraq and we'd be right where we are today. So who does Hillary think she is kidding?)

Obama seems to have finally -- finally -- understood his huge mistake.

Hillary, I want to support you. I really do. But: WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!

Added note: Patrick Cockburn makes the exact same point in the London Review of Books...
Like the Shia leaders in Baghdad, the US and its allies have responded to the rise of Isis by descending into fantasy. They pretend they are fostering a ‘third force’ of moderate Syrian rebels to fight both Assad and Isis, though in private Western diplomats admit this group doesn’t really exist outside a few beleaguered pockets. Aymenn al-Tamimi confirms that this Western-backed opposition ‘is getting weaker and weaker’; he believes supplying them with more weapons won’t make much difference. Jordan, under pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia, is supposed to be a launching pad for this risky venture but it’s getting cold feet. ‘Jordan is frightened of Isis,’ one Jordanian official in Amman said. ‘Most Jordanians want Assad to win the war.’ He said Jordan is buckling under the strain of coping with vast numbers of Syrian refugees, ‘the equivalent of the entire population of Mexico moving into the US in one year’.
Emphasis added.


Anonymous said...

I think that concussion did something to her brain. She doesn't sound the same

Monster from the Id said...

I had forgotten the concussion.

Anonymous said...

Oh please. You only see and hear what the media chooses to present to you. That's why we only heard about the awkward marriage equality exchange from the NPR interview and not the questions and answers about her work for LGBT rights in the federal government and around the world.

While I don't agree with many of her policies, I'm smart enough to realize that the media is once again selling a poisonous narrative. Sanctimonious pundits who make millions a year (some of it from five and six figure speaking fees) are selecting what the public sees and hears, and the rubes are all buying it again.

Yes, Hillary must be brain damaged just like Gore was a "congenital" liar. And another Texas moron like Perry or souless rich kid like Paul will make it to the White House with the help of our famously free press.

seymourblogger said...

Her year was 2004 and her stupid daughter told her not to run.By 08 I didn't want her and less so now.

Joseph Cannon said...

Anon (and please sign with a nick next time), this was an interview, not a hit piece. Furthermore, Hillary's words in the interview match her words in her book.

So you can't blame "the media" here.

You should look at what Digby has to say about the same interview:

Anonymous said...

I'm not blaming the press for the the interview. Hillary is way out of line with her Syria statements.

My response was to the "concussion/she doesn't sound the same" remark. She's always been an interventionist hawk. Let's face that fact and drop the "sick in the head" narrative.

Anonymous said...

Here is what Clinton said (from Digby's article):

"The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

This seems like a pretty innocuous remark, almost common sense. Basing opposition to Clinton as a presidential candidate on an offhand comment about a past situation that no one can go back and do over, suggests you haven't got much enthusiasm for her to begin with and are just looking for a reason to jump ship.

Joseph Cannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph Cannon said...

Anon, that is a ridiculous condensation of Digby's article. I invite anyone to look at the original and see how misleading you've been.

But the statement by Hillary is, on its face, just as ridiculous. The "moderates" were never that numerous or that motivated. All sources (including, belatedly, the President) agree on that point. The jihadists were funded by the Saudis, by Qatar and Turkey -- by the Sunnis who seem to be looking to create their own version of the Thirty Years War against the Shiites. And we were cool with this

Anonymous said...

It didn't work for Gore what makes her think it's going to work for her(distancing herself from her boss)

amspirnational said...

Hillary's vote for the Iraq war disqualifies her from a true progressive-left's vote.Period.
She could have cared less no WMDs
were found had there been an easy win and a pro-US, pro-Israel puppet installed.
A totally amoral sociopath.
Elsewise called an American imperialist.
But sure, she'll give complete equality to women imperialists to oppress non-imperialists the world wide if she has her way which she won't because American-Israeli empire is on the way out.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think there will be a day I will say this but she lost my vote after that interview. This is from someone who still keep some stuff from her running in 2008

Alessandro Machi said...

Are you presuming that the Syrian army has no former doctors, lawyers, farmers, etc?