The Clinton Book Tour Is Largely Ignoring the Vital Role of Endless War in the 2016 Election Result

by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept:

TO PITCH HER BOOK, Hillary Clinton is sitting down this week for a series of media interviews, mostly with supportive TV personalities, such as Rachel Maddow, to discuss her views of “What Happened,” the book’s title. Calls for Clinton to be quiet and disappear are misguided for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that she is a very smart, informed, and articulate politician, which means her interviews — especially when she’s liberated from programmed campaign mode — are illuminating about how she, and her fellow establishment Democrats who have driven the party into a ditch, really think.

An hourlong interview she sat for with Vox’s Ezra Klein is particularly worthwhile. Clinton, for good reason, harbors a great deal of affection for Klein, which she expressed on multiple occasions during their chat. But Klein nonetheless pressed her on a series of criticisms that have been voiced about her and the Democrats’ stunted political approach, banal policies, status-quo-perpetuating worldview, and cramped aspirations that seem far more plausible as authors of her defeat than the familiar array of villains — Bernie Sanders, Vladimir Putin, Jill Stein, Jim Comey, the New York Times — that she and her most ardent supporters are eager to blame.

Despite being illuminating, Klein’s discussion with Clinton contains a glaring though quite common omission: There is not a word about the role of foreign policy and endless war during the entire hour. While some of this may be attributable to Klein’s perfectly valid journalistic focus on domestic policies, such as health care, a huge factor in Clinton’s political career and how she is perceived — as a senator and especially as secretary of state — is her advocacy of multiple wars and other military actions, many, if not all, of which were rather disastrous, rendering it quite strange to spend an hour discussing why she lost without so much as mentioning any of that.

This is not so much a critique of Klein’s specific interview (which, again, is worthwhile) as it is reflective of the broader Democratic Party desire to pretend that the foreign wars it has repeatedly prosecuted, and the endless killing of innocent people for which it is responsible, do not exist. Part of that is the discomfort of cognitive dissonance: the Democratic branding and self-glorification as enemies of privilege, racism, and violence are directly in conflict with the party’s long-standing eagerness to ignore, or even actively support, policies which kill large numbersof innocent people from Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia to Yemen, Iraq, and Gaza, but which receive scant attention because of the nationality, ethnicity, poverty, distance, and general invisibility of their victims.

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But a major part of this minimization is a misperception of the domestic political importance of these policies. From the beginning of his candidacy through the general election, Donald Trump rhetorically positioned himself as a vehement opponent of endless war, inveighing against both parties when doing so.

Though there is now a revisionist effort underway to falsely depict those who pointed this out as being gullible believers in Trump’s dovish and antiwar credentials, the reality is that most of us who warned of the efficacy of Trump’s antiwar campaign theme made explicitly clear that there was no reason to believe Trump would actually be dovish if he were elected. Indeed, from Trump’s history of endorsing the wars he was denouncing to his calls for greater and more savage bombing to his desire to nullify the Iran deal, there was ample reasons to doubt that he would usher in dovishness of any kind. But the point was that Trump’s antiwar posturing was a politically potent approach because of how unpopular endless war and militarism have become:

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