Tag: hillary clinton

New Hampshire rejects establishment politics

By Daniel Margrain

There appears to be a pattern emerging within conventional democratic politics that seems set to break the neoliberal stranglehold that has dominated the said politics over the last few decades that is nothing short of revolutionary. Symptomatic of this radical shift as far as Europe is concerned has been the electoral successes of left parties in countries like Spain, Greece and Britain. Illustrative of the break with the traditional centre-right polity in America has been the ascendancy of Bernie Sanders who surged to victory beating Hillary Clinton resoundingly in the Democratic New Hampshire primary.

Whereas Clinton’s voter demographic is largely restricted to those people who are over the age of 65 and who have a family income of more than $200,000, Sanders carries majorities with nearly all demographic groups that include both men and women and those with and without college degrees. The popularity of Sanders reflects an upsurge in the grass roots opposition to the pro-war neoliberal consensus within the Democratic Party and their framing of a triangulation ideology that began under Bill Clinton and continues with Obama.

A Parallel can be drawn here with the phenomenal rise in grass roots Labour Party membership in Britain that elected Sanders’ equivalent, Jeremy Corbyn as leader on the back of a wave of apoplexy and disenchantment with both the self-interested careerist Blairite rump within the Parliamentary Labour Party and the elite political class in general. What we are witnessing on both sides of the Atlantic is the political and media establishment’s attempt to hold on to the levers of corrupt political and corporate media power and the privileges that come with them.

To this end, the strategy of the latter is to restrict the flow of dissenting information that conflicts in a fundamental way with these powerful interests. Set against this mutually reinforcing system of power and privilege undermining democracy, is a tidal wave of public anger and bitterness. Significantly, during his victory speech, Sanders briefly alluded to the kind of collusion between the media and political establishments’ described and their corrupting influence:

“The people of New Hampshire have sent a profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and by the way, to the media establishment.”

To my knowledge not a single mainstream media outlet has reported this part of Sanders’ speech. If one happens to be in any doubt that the liberal-left media in Britain is anything other than in thrall to the “feminist-progressive” and warmonger Clinton, than one need to look no further than the opinion pages of the Guardian. How the paper is able to reconcile its support for the neoconservative pro-Israeli hardliner predicated on her “feminism” can only be rationalized from the perspective of it’s usurpation to power.

As Craig Murray put it:

“The stream of “feminist” articles about why it would advance the cause of women to have a deeply corrupt right winger in the White House is steadily growing into a torrent. It is a perfect example of what I wrote of a month ago, the cause of feminism being hijacked to neo-conservative ends.”

In America last Sunday, CNN gave the Republican candidate, Donald Trump about half an hour of air time where he was able to call for waterboarding. He went on to state that he was in favour of much worse forms of illegal torture. Despite this, Trump’s comments went unchallenged by the CNN journalists whose role is clearly to promote him.

But as repugnant as the above is, it’s not the obvious differences between the right-wing extremism of Trump and other Republican’s compared to the democratic socialism of Sander’s that is the core issue voters are faced with in deciding whether to vote Democrat or Republican. Rather it’s the kind of cynical attempts of Clinton to disingenuously hitch on to the coat-tails of Sander’s for electoral gain depending on which way the prevailing wind is blowing, that contributes to left-wing voter fatigue that ultimately can only benefit the right.

Emphasizing the ideological distinction between himself and Clinton, Sanders said:

“What the American people are saying—and, by the way, I hear this not just from progressives, but from conservatives and from moderates—is that we can no longer continue to have a campaign finance system in which Wall Street and the billionaire class are able to buy elections. Americans—Americans, no matter what their political view may be, understand that that is not what democracy is about. That is what oligarchy is about. And we will not allow that to continue. I do not have a superPAC, and I do not want a super PAC.”

Former Democratic nominee, Arnie Arnesen, gives expression to this sentiment:

“What Bernie Sanders showed—and, to some extent, even Donald Trump has shown—is that this is no longer a time for establishment politics, that there is a problem. There is a disconnect between what they do and what they think and what the American people are feeling. Bernie tapped into that, not just in New Hampshire, but around the country.”

Fundamental to the popularity of Sanders has been his attack on the system that gave rise to the Wall Street banking scandal of which nothing short of a political revolution can resolve. He said that the problems in the United States stem from the fact that the country where mainly 62 American billionaires have the wealth of half the entire population of the world, is one of the most unequal and that he intends to do something about it:

“When the top one-tenth of 1% now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, that’s not fair. It is not fair when the 20 wealthiest people in this country now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American people…. Together we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1%. And, when millions of our people are working for starvation wages, yep, we’re going to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour. And, we are going to bring pay equity for women.

And, when we need the best educated workforce in the world, yes, we are going to make public colleges and universities tuition free. And, for the millions of Americans struggling with horrendous levels of student debt, we are going to substantially ease that burden….The greed, the recklessness, and the illegal behavior drove our economy to its knees. The American people bailed out Wall Street, now it’s Wall Street’s time to help the middle class.”

Other progressive policy messages Sanders outlined in his speech on issues such as healthcare, climate change, foreign policy and minority rights, are similarly resonating within the Democratic Party and arguably further afield. In a desperate attempt to add some kind of (misguided) substance to her campaign, Hillary Clinton’s team called on former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. The “feminist” who, under Clinton’s husband during the Iraq debacle, asserted that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, shamelessly invoked identity politics as a tactic intended to vilify women who voted for her Democrat opponent. “Women’s equality is not done”she said “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

Almost certainly, what a significant amount of New Hampshire Democrats considered before they cast their votes was to evaluate both candidates’ voting record. Clinton’s record has been dogged by accusations of triangulating flip-flopping. This has been put sharply into focus by her sudden shift to the left on issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership soon after Sanders entered the race.

Certainly, her voting record on key issues, unlike that of her rival, has been less than stellar. From supporting the 2001 Patriot Act through to the Iraq and Syria interventions and many other issues there is very little, if anything, to distinguish her record from her Republican rivals.

Drumbeating For War: Clinton’s ‘Tonkin’ Incident?

The American media’s tendency for replicating official government propaganda as a means of justifying US government-initiated warfare, has a long established history that pre-dates Iraq by at least 40 years. On August 5, 1964 a Washington Post headline announced “American Planes Hit North Vietnam After Second Attack on Our Destroyers; Move Taken to Halt New aggression” (http://www.cah.utexas.edu/services/finding_items/newspapers_gannett.php).

On the same day, the front page of the New York Times reported: “President Johnson has ordered retaliatory action against gunboats and ‘certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam’ after renewed attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin” (ibid).

But there was no “second attack” by North Vietnam — no “renewed attacks against American destroyers.” By reporting official claims as absolute truths, American journalism opened the floodgates for the bloody Vietnam War and the  over 50,000 American deaths and millions of Vietnamese casualties that followed.

The official story was that North Vietnamese torpedo boats launched an “unprovoked attack” against a U.S. destroyer on “routine patrol” in the Tonkin Gulf on August 2 — and that North Vietnamese PT boats followed up with a “deliberate attack” on a pair of U.S. ships two days later.

The truth was very different.

Rather than being on a routine patrol, the U.S. destroyer Maddox was actually engaged in aggressive intelligence-gathering maneuvers — in sync with coordinated attacks on North Vietnam by the South Vietnamese navy and the Laotian air force in “retaliation” for a North Vietnamese torpedo attack that never happened.

One of the Navy pilots flying overhead on the night of the alleged North Vietnamese attack was squadron commander James Stockdale, who gained fame later as a POW and then Ross Perot’s vice presidential candidate. “I had the best seat in the house to watch that event,” recalled Stockdale, “and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets — there were no PT boats there…. There was nothing there but black water and American fire power” (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/coldwar/interviews/episode-11/stockdale1.html).

On the night of 26 March, 2010, 40 years or so later, the South Korean navy ship Cheonan split in half and sank while patrolling not far from the North Korean coast. Although the definitive cause is still unclear, the South Korean and US governments are keen to convince the world that North Korea was responsible.

On 20 May, South Korea announced it had “overwhelming evidence” that a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine sank one of its warships, the Cheonan, in March with the loss of 46 sailors (http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/27/nk).

The Korea Times reported the “overwhelming evidence” to be a propeller that “had been corroding at least for several months,” In April, the director of South Korea’s national intelligence, Won Se-hoon, told a parliamentary committee that there was no evidence linking the sinking of the Cheonan to North Korea. The defence minister agreed. And the head of South Korea’s military marine operations said, “No North Korean warships have been detected [in] the waters where the accident took place.” The reference to an “accident” suggests the warship struck a reef and broke in two (http://watchingthewarmakers.org.uk/).

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, urged Pyongyang to halt its “policy of belligerence.” She went on to say that this amounted to “unacceptable provocation by North Korea” and urged China to back the international community and chastise North Korea for its actions (http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/27/nk).

Hillary Clinton-JKZ-003178.jpg

Meanwhile, the world’s media have been virtually silent about the fact that the US and South Korea were holding a joint naval exercise around 60 miles to the south of where the alleged incident occured, and that Hillary Clinton has been backing the regime of South Korean president Lee Myung-bak who has been ratcheting up tensions on the peninsula (http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=21402).

This is the same language that was used when the US accused the North of unprovoked aggression when the Korean War started sixty years ago. Then, as now, tensions are being ratcheted-up to the extent that, according to historian Bruce Cumings, a second Korean War is a possiblity (http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/27/nk).

One possible explanation of the North’s alleged attack, not apparently being considered by the US government and the media, is that the North Korean’s had fired on the Cheonanin in response to having initially been fired on themselves. A second outcome not being considered, is North Korea’s denial that it was involved in the sinking, and the parallel with the lies used to justify the occupation of Iraq (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6581TW20100609?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews).

What is certain is that US government had failed to point out the background to the tragedy which has a bearing on what happened. For instance, in 1999, a North Korean ship went down with thirty sailors lost and maybe seventy wounded. And last November, a North Korean ship went down in flames. Both happened in a no man’s land, or waters, off the west coast of Korea that both North and South claim and where the US and South Korea demarcated a so-called Northern limit line unilaterally.

The North has never accepted this demarcation line which it claims is under the joint jurisdiction of the North and South Korean militaries. Moreover, US intelligence is aware that North Korean and South Korean fishermen continually fight over the issue of who is entitled to the fishing rights in this area.

The Cheonan ship was sailing in these disputed waters when it was allegedly hit by the North Korean’s.

Furthermore, the US recently completed Operation Full Eagle, an annual joint military exercise with the South Koreans, including naval exercises south of this particular region involving 26,000 soldiers. According to historian Bruce Cumings, these exercises are regarded by the North Koreans as a prelude to a possible attack (http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/27/nk).

These contextual issues have rarely, if at all, been reported in the corporate mainstream media.

The greatest of all the “elephants in the room” however, is the fact that US imperialism lies behind the 1945 division of the Korean peninsula and the ongoing conflict between the two Koreas described above. Using its huge military bases in Japan and South Korea, the US wants to maintain its increasingly precarious dominance in East Asia and keep China hemmed in (http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=21402).

But North Korea has remained a thorn in America’s side, continuing to “defy the international community” over its nuclear testing and maintain its independence despite its economic collapse (http://www.onebigdog.net/north-korea-defies-international-community/).

Essentially, the US is using its ally South Korea in a dangerous game of  “imperial chess” in the region. The South is one of the world’s biggest military spenders and second only to Israel as a buyer of US arms. Under these circumstances, the South is aware that it is able to flex its political and military muscle in the region with impunity.

But the South is also caught in a vortex of power relations between other powerful players – Japan, Russia and China. Hillary Clinton is aware that the latter is a veto-wielding member of the Security Council and a North Korean ally. Hence, as the New York Times reported, the US would be unlikely to impose new sanctions on the North (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/world/asia/27diplo.html).

Nevertheless, South Korea and the US are using this latest incident to put pressure on the North whether the North was involved or not. After flying to Seoul on the 26 May, where she demanded that the “international community must respond” to “North Korea’s outrage”, Clinton flew on to Japan. Here the new “threat” from North Korea conveniently eclipsed the briefly independent foreign policy of Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, elected last year with popular opposition to America’s permanent military occupation of Japan (http://www.newstatesman.com/middle-east/2010/06/north-korea-vietnam-pilger).

To the American media, North Korea’s guilt is beyond doubt, just as North Vietnam’s guilt was beyond doubt, just as Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, just as Israel can terrorise with impunity. However, unlike Vietnam and Iraq, both North Korea and South Korea have nuclear weapons. This is why, the US games are dangerous and the consequences of  a war therefore unimaginable for all of the 70 million Koreans caught in the crosshairs.

Copyright: Daniel Margrain.