Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hillary Hawkery is Back

If you squint just the right way, it is possible not to see much space between the three top Democratic contenders’ positions on Iraq. They are all officially anti-war (finally), but unlike Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, their opposition is more rhetorical than real. It comes down to this: they want to bring most of the troops home eventually but, most of all, they want to stave off the perception of abject defeat – because they don’t want America’s imperial designs to be hamstrung by any Iraq Syndrome. Of course, if you squint just a little differently, then on this matter as on nearly all others, Clinton can seem to be the worst and Edwards the best, with Obama somewhere in the middle, insofar as his position can be pinned down. But the differences are, in any case, slight. There is no good reason to get steamed up over the (increasingly likely) prospect of a Clintonite restoration on this account.

But it’s different with Iran, as a very instructive piece by Juan Cole in the October 17 makes clear. On Cole’s analysis, the Republican contenders, all but Ron Paul, are falling over each other trying to be perceived as the most bellicose. So far, the most loathsome of that contemptible crew, Rudy Giuliani is ahead in this race, as in the larger primary contest in which it is, so to speak, embedded. Thinking she has the nomination sewed up and therefore looking forward to the general election, Hillary Clinton, having been forced to repent (without quite saying so) of her chicken hawkery on Iraq, is now back at it on Iran. The other Democratic contenders, the “electable” ones anyway, are bad on Iran too; they too want to leave “the military option” on the table. But, according to Cole’s analysis, their positions, or at least their rhetorical postures, are markedly better than Clinton’s.

Hillary was the only candidate in the Senate to vote for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment (declaring Iran's Revolution Guards "terrorists."), No one should be surprised: Hillary’s stance is vintage Clintonian politics (Bill or Hillary style; it makes no difference!) Being determined to govern from the center (actually, the center-right), promoting a military strike against Iran makes perfect sense, given the latest polling data. And, if that isn’t enough, it’s also pleasing to the Israel lobby. Cole even cites reports that the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment was written by AIPAC! All the leading Democrats are in AIPAC’s grip, but the Clintons are and always have been more than usually servile. And why not – haven’t they found throughout their careers in “public service” that there’s a good percentage in it!

According to Cole, even the Congressional leadership of the Democratic Party is ill-disposed to follow the Clintons into endorsing yet another Bush war – especially one that anyone with any sense (in or out of the military) opposes and that only Dick Cheney and his still virulent neo-conservative advisors want. But that could change if and when it becomes clear that Hillary will be the nominee. The Clintons have dragged the Democrats to the right before; they will do it again (if we let them).

NOTE: to say that, on Iran, the position of the Democratic Congressional leadership is at least a quantum level better (less bad) than that of the leading contender for the Democratic nomination is not to say that the leadership’s position is anything but horrible, as a very perceptive article on Nancy Pelosi, by Margaret Kimberly in The Black Agenda Report, makes eminently clear.

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