Monday, June 8, 2009

Hillary Clinton channels her inner Dick Cheney, while Barack Obama channels his inner George W. Bush....

There is a very disquieting sense in which, despite the rhetoric of Cairo, President Obama's foreign policy is drifting back into the well-worn (and highly dangerous) ruts of the previous administration.

Offered for your consideration, as Rod Serling used to say, are two bizarre and troubling occurrences this week.

First, Secretary of State Clinton appears in an interview on ABC's This Week to threaten a possible Iraq-style US invasion of Iran. The transcript:

CLINTON: I think it is U.S. policy to the extent that we have alliances and understandings with a number of nations. They may not be formal, as it is with NATO, but I don't think there is any doubt in anyone's mind that, were Israel to suffer a nuclear attack by Iran, there would be retaliation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: By the United States?

CLINTON: Well, I think there would be retaliation. And I think part of what is clear is, we want to avoid a -- a Middle East arms race which leads to nuclear weapons being in the possession of other countries in the Middle East, and we want to make clear that there are consequences and costs.

Now, let me just put it this way: If Iran is seeking security, if they believe -- and, you know, you have to put yourself into the shoes of the other party when you negotiate -- if they believe that the United States might attack them the way that we did attack Iraq, for example...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Before they attack, as a first strike?

CLINTON: That's right, as a first strike, or they might have some other enemy that would do that to them, part of what we have to make clear to the Iranians is that their pursuit of nuclear weapons will actually trigger greater insecurity, because, right now, many of the nations in the neighborhood, as you know very well...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because Israel will strike before they can finish?

CLINTON: Well, but not only that. I mean, other countries, other Arab countries are deeply concerned about Iran having nuclear weapons. So does Iran want to face a battery of nuclear weapons countries...

Either this is a spectacularly bad version of good Obama/bad Clinton or the Secretary of State just aired the possibility of yet another US-led pre-emptive war in the Middle East....

Meanwhile, the Obama we-don't-torture-we're-shutting-down-Gitmo-we-believe-in-human-rights-and-Constitutional-conduct administration is still debating the execution without trial option for at least five Gitmo detainees:

The literally Kafkaesque proposal by some in the Obama Administration to get around the messy business of trying certain detainees with evidence obtained through torture by simply asking them for permission to execute them seems to have hit some opposition inside the administration itself, and not for the reasons you might suspect.

Top White House adviser David Axelrod is concerned not with the precedent of voluntary execution per se, but rather the prospect that executing terror suspects could be playing into their hands by granting them martyrdom at the hands of the United States.

Axelrod says “theres still discussions going on about how to proceed” and insists the president will make an announcement once he’s made a decision, but cited “grave concerns” about the possibility of killing the detainees if it turns out they really want to be killed.

Five detainees are said to be prime candidates for this rather bizarre proposal, and what evidence exists against some of them was obtained through harsh interrogations during their years of detention without charge. The administration is loathe to charge them, not only because of the paucity of reliable evidence but for concern that their ill treatment will become public.

Now, to make it clear: if charged with capital murder in the US in a State with the death penalty [or in Federal death penalty cases] it is unconstitutional to execute somebody who has not been tried, because the Supreme Court has essentially mandated separate hearings for guilt and punishment, and that only someone convicted of a capital crime can be subject to the death penalty.

So we now have the spectre of the first American executions of detainees will occur not under the Bush administration, but under the Obama administration, and not following a trial [even before a military tribunal] but without a trial....

The most amazing thing about all this is the absolute and utter silence of the all the progressives and liberals who so bashed the previous administration and signed up for Obama in the apparently genuine belief that he would be different.

So while they are finding nuances in his speeches abroad, and organizing in their living rooms for health care on orders from command central, what you won't be hearing anytime soon is an outcry that--in terms of human rights and foreign policy--the new boss is pretty much the same as the old boss.


Miko said...

Technically, Clinton didn't so much suggest that we'd consider launching a first strike as she suggested that Iran's actions were motivated by Iran's belief that the U.S. might launch a first strike.

Steven H. Newton said...

Notice my use of the verb "appears"--when you watch the video of this exchange it sounds a lot more like she's seriously talking that way than when you read the transcript.

And I think you have cited, as Dana would say, a distinction without a difference, because Hillary does nothing to allay those fears--just the opposite, she feeds into them.....