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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers the keynote address at the 18th Annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University in New York April 29, 2015

    Clinton's Neocon Ties Could Mean More Regime Change on the Menu

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    With the battle for the hearts and minds of the Democratic Party entering the eleventh hour, the biggest question for non-Americans observing the election cycle is: 'What will candidate x do when it comes to policy toward my country?' In Hillary Clinton's case, the answer, for anyone outside the Western world, doesn't seem all that appealing.

    In a recent piece for online news and analysis journal PolitRussia, blogger Artem Dobrovolsky suggested that given her record of sharp rhetoric against Russia, and her hawkish foreign policy, demonstrated in Libya, Syria and elsewhere, a Clinton presidency probably wouldn't be something for Russians to look forward to.

    "Perhaps Mrs. Clinton will change her rhetoric when she becomes president, or perhaps she will initiate a second, full-fledged cold war, bigger than the first," Dobrovolsky said.

    Russian commentators aren't alone in their concerns. In an extensive analytical piece of his own, American investigative journalist and Consortium News founder Robert Parry posed a question that American men and women in uniform, and the enemy they may be forced to fight, should find extremely important: "Would a Clinton Win Mean More Wars?"

    Parry warned that if Clinton, with the help of the Democratic Party establishment, manages to defeat progressive opponent Bernie Sanders, and then win in November against the Republicans, "the world should hold its breath."

    "If Clinton becomes president,  she will be surrounded by a neocon-dominated American foreign policy establishment that will press her to resume its 'regime change' strategies in the Middle East and escalate its new and dangerous Cold War against Russia."

    "If Bashar al-Assad is still president of Syria, there will be demands that she finally go for he knock-out blow; there will be pressure, too, for her to ratchet up sanctions on Iran, pushing Tehran toward renouncing the nuclear agreement; there are already calls for deploying more US troops on Russia's border and integrating Ukraine into the NATO military structure."

    Worse yet, Parry says, is that Clinton may not have the "wisdom to resist these siren songs of confrontation and war, even if she were inclined to." After all, "President Barack Obama, who – for all his faults – has a much deeper and subtler intellect than Hillary Clinton, found himself so battered by these pressures from the militaristic Washington 'playbook' that he whined about his predicament to The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, himself a neocon war hawk."

    "Given this neocon domination of US foreign policy – especially in the State Department bureaucracy, the major media and the big think tanks – Clinton will be buffeted by hawkish demands and plans both from outside of her administration and from within."

    "Already," the journalist writes, "key neocons such as the Brookings Institution's Robert Kagan, are signaling that they expect to have substantial influence over Clinton's foreign policy. Kagan, who has repackaged himself as a 'liberal interventionist', threw his support to Clinton, who put him on a State Department advisory board."

    "There is also talk in Washington that Kagan's neocon wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, another Clinton favorite and the architect of the 'regime change' in Ukraine, would be in line for a top foreign policy job in a Clinton-45 administration."

    U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, offering cookies and (behind the scenes) political advice to Ukraine's Maidan activists and their leaders.
    © AP Photo/ Andrew Kravchenko, Pool
    U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, offering cookies and (behind the scenes) political advice to Ukraine's Maidan activists and their leaders.

    Therefore, Parry suggests, "Clinton's election could mean that some of the most dangerous people in American foreign policy would be whispering their schemes for war and more war directly into her ear – and her record shows that she is very susceptible to such guidance."

    "At every turn, as a US senator and as Secretary of State, Clinton has opted for 'regime change' solutions – from the Iraq invasion in 2003 to the Honduras coup in 2009 to the Libyan air war in 2011 to the Syria civil war since 2011." Elsewhere, "she has advocated for the escalation of conflicts, such as in Afghanistan and with Iran, rather than engaging in reasonable give-and-take negotiations."

    And "though her backers tout her experience as Secretary of State, the reality was that she repeatedly disdained genuine democracy and was constantly hectoring President Obama into adopting the most violent and confrontational options. He sometimes did (the Afghan 'surge', the Iran nuclear stand-off) but he sometimes didn't (reversing the Afghan escalation, finally negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran after Clinton left, rejecting a direct US military assault on the Syrian government, and working at times with the Russians on Iran and Syria)."

    "In other words, Obama acted as a register or brake restraining Clinton's hawkishness. With Clinton as the President, however, she would have no such restraints. One could expect her to endorse many if not all the harebrained neocon schemes, much as President George W. Bush did when his neocon advisers exploited his fear and fury over 9/11 to guide him into their 'regime change' agenda for the Middle East."

    Left unpunished for the Iraqi misadventure, the neocons "continu[ed] to dominate Washington's think tanks and the op-ed pages of major American news outlets such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Barely missing a beat, they set about planning for the longer haul."

    And they caught a break, Parry writes, "when President-elect Obama opted for a Lincoln-esque 'team of rivals' on foreign policy. Instead of reaching out to Washington's marginalized (and aging) foreign policy 'realists', Obama looked to the roster of the neocon-dominated establishment."

    This mistake, the journalist says, allowed the neocons and their liberal interventionist cohorts to consolidate their control over the foreign policy bureaucracy, particularly within the State Department.

    The collapse of Russian-American relations over Ukraine, Parry argues, may actually have been the result of machinations by neocon infuriated over Putin's move in 2013 to help persuade Obama not to bomb Syria over a sarin gas attack pinned on Assad, but actually launched by Islamic militants.

    U.S. President Barack Obama (L) talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. security advisor Susan Rice (2nd L) prior to the opening session of the Group of 20 (G20) Leaders summit summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey November 15, 2015
    © REUTERS/ Cem Oksuz/Pool
    U.S. President Barack Obama (L) talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. security advisor Susan Rice (2nd L) prior to the opening session of the Group of 20 (G20) Leaders summit summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey November 15, 2015

    "Some of the smarter neocons quickly identified Ukraine as a potential wedge that could be driven between Obama and Putin…It fell to Assistant Secretary of State Nuland to shepherd the Ukraine operation to fulfillment as she plotted with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt how to remove Ukraine's pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych."

    "Nuland and Pyatt were caught in an intercepted phone call discussing who should take over. 'Yats is the guy', Nuland said, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who indeed would become the new prime minister. Nuland and Pyatt then exchanged ideas how to 'glue this thing' and how to 'midwife this thing'. This 'thing' became the bloody Feb. 22, 2014 coup ousting elected President Yanukovych and touching off a civil war between Ukrainian 'nationalists' from the west and Ukraine's ethnic Russians in the east."

    Crucially, Parry notes, "when citizen Clinton weighed in on the Ukraine crisis, she compared Russian President Putin to Hitler."

    With neocons vowing "to ignore Russia's warnings against what it views as military threats to its existence," and proposing that NATO "incorporate Ukrainian army units into its expansion of military operations along Russia's border," it will be up to the next president to test whether the current downturn in Russia-US relations can get any worse.

    Ultimately, "this kind of tough-talking jargon is what the next President, whoever he or she is, can expect from Official Washington." Unfortunately, Perry suggests, a review of Clinton's public record leads to the conclusion "that she herself is a neocon, both in her devotion to Israel and her proclivity toward 'regime change solutions'. She also follows the neocon lead in demonizing any foreign leader who gets in their way."

    By her supporters, the journalist notes, Clinton is seen as a 'safe' choice, "a politician whose long resume gives them comfort that she must know what she's doing."

    However, "a look behind Clinton's resume, especially her reliance on 'regime change' and other interventionist schemes in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, might give all peace-loving voters pause." This, Parry suggests, is because "savvy neocons, like Robert Kagan, have long understood that Clinton could be their Trojan Horse, pulled into the White House by Democratic voters."

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    analysis, presidential campaign, election, Hillary Clinton, Robert Parry, Syria, Iran, Russia, United States
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