JUNE 6, 2016
Rachel Maddow, the famously progressive MSNBC show host, pronounced it “her greatest speech of the campaign.” Chris Matthews agreed, adding that it would “have a very strong appeal to the neocon movement.” He mentioned in particular Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor and TV commentator, as someone likely to be impressed. “A very smart man,” opined Matthews, the conservative Democrat and “Hardball” host, causing the entire cosmos to shudder.
You’d think that that war in Iraq, which Kristol had tirelessly championed, had never happened. And that its results had been anything other than horrific for the entire Middle East.
Hillary Clinton’s fiery performance last Thursday night, intended to assert her credentials as a former secretary of state (with all the positive “experience” that’s supposed to entail), framed by no fewer than seventeen U.S. flags, was a strident reassertion of U.S. “EXCEPTIONALISM” without apologies or even reflections on the recent past and her bloody role in it.
It was billed as a “major foreign policy address,” the sort of thing you might expect of a sitting president. And it was designed, of course, to make her look presidential, and to underscore her campaign’s declaration that she has the Democratic nomination all sewed up. But it was not in fact a foreign policy speech at all; Donald Trump is quite right to call it “a political speech” directed at him.
Maddow has occasionally shown signs of critical reasoning in her coverage of the U.S.’s imperialist wars. One has to wonder what she finds admirable in the speech. Because actually, Clinton said nothing new.
However unsubstantial, it was all over the news the next morning, competing with the stories about new fencing at the Cincinnati Zoo and Prince’s autopsy results. Meanwhile the networks systematically ignore the ongoing wars in Iraq and Syria generated by the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, and the European refugee crisis sparked by the regime-change wars in those countries as well as in Afghanistan and Libya. Like the monkeys adorning the Nikko Shrine, they see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.
Some takeaway lines from the Clinton speech: “Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program.” It’s true that Trump is an uninformed blowhard and that Hillary in contrast knows a lot. She knows, for example, that the entire U.S. intelligence community, in two separate National Intelligence Estimates after 2003, concluded that Iran does not have a military nuclear program. She knows that the whole issue was hyped at the demand of the Israeli leaders who continuously demanded that the U.S. bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities (that in fact date back to the period of the Shah’s reign and supported by the U.S.’s “Atoms for Peace” program).
She also knows from experience the value of the Big Lie in obtaining mass acceptance for real or threatened military action.