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Washington's New Lock-Step March of Folly

By       Message Robert Parry       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   11 comments

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From Consortium News

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at an Atlantic Council event in 2013.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at an Atlantic Council event in 2013.
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As polls show Hillary Clinton closing in on victory, Official Washington's neoconservative (and liberal-hawk) foreign policy establishment is rubbing its hands in anticipation of more war and more strife, including a U.S. military escalation in Syria, a take-down of Iran, and a showdown with nuclear-armed Russia.

What is perhaps most alarming about this new "group think" is that there doesn't appear to be any significant resistance to the expectation that President Hillary Clinton will unleash these neocon/liberal-hawk forces of intervention that President Barack Obama has somewhat restrained.

Assuming Donald Trump's defeat -- increasingly seen as a foregone conclusion -- the Republican leadership would mostly be in sync with Clinton if she adopts a hawkish foreign policy similar to what was pursued by President George W. Bush. Meanwhile, most Democrats would be hesitant to challenge their party's new president.

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The only potential option to constrain the hawkish Clinton would be the emergence of a "peace" wing of the Democratic Party, possibly aligned with Republican anti-interventionists. But that possibility remains problematic especially since those two political elements have major policy disagreements on a wide variety of other topics.

There also isn't an obvious individual for the peace factions to organize around. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mildly criticized Clinton's advocacy of "regime change" operations during the primary campaign, is 75 years old and isn't particularly known for his stands on foreign policy issues.

If Trump loses, the bombastic real-estate mogul would likely be a spent political force, possibly retreating into the paranoid "alt-right" world of conspiracy theories. Even now, his dovish objection to confronting Russia has been undermined by his tendency to speak carelessly about other national security topics, such as torture, terrorism and nuclear weapons.

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One potential leader of a peace movement would be Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, a 35-year-old military veteran who is one of the few members of Congress to offer an insightful and courageous critique of the dangers from an interventionist foreign policy. But Gabbard would be putting her promising political career at risk if she challenged a sitting Democratic president, especially early in Clinton's White House term.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.
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Yet, without a modern-day Eugene McCarthy (the anti-Vietnam War Democrat who took on President Lyndon Johnson in 1968) to rally an anti-war movement from inside the Democratic Party, it is hard to imagine how significant political pressure could be put on a President Hillary Clinton. Virtually the entire mainstream U.S. media (and much of the progressive media) are onboard for a U.S. "regime change" operation in Syria and for getting tough with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Not Thought Through

These "group thinks" on Syria and Russia, like previous ones on Iraq and Libya, have not been thought through, but are driven instead by emotional appeals -- photos of wounded children in Syria and animosity toward Putin for not wearing a shirt and not bowing to U.S. global supremacy. As with Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, there is little consideration about what might follow a successful "regime change" scenario in Syria or Russia.

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In Syria, a "no-fly zone" destroying Syria's air force and air defenses could pave the way for a victory by Al Qaeda's recently renamed Nusra Front and/or Al Qaeda's spinoff, the Islamic State. How letting major terrorist groups control Damascus would be good for either the Syrian people or the United States gets barely mentioned.

The dreamy thinking is that somehow the hard-to-find "moderate" rebels -- sometimes called the "unicorns" -- would prevail, even though they have existed mostly as cut-outs and conduits so Al Qaeda and its allies can secure advanced U.S. weapons to use for killing Syrian soldiers.

Yet, even more dangerous is the already-launched destabilization campaign against nuclear-armed Russia, a policy that may feel-good because we're taught to despise Vladimir Putin. But this latest neocon/liberal-hawk "regime change" scheme -- even if it somehow were "successful" -- is not likely to install in the Kremlin one of the U.S.-favored "liberals" who would allow the resumption of the 1990s-era plundering of Russia's wealth.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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