Friday, August 12, 2016

Moving Away from Hillary

If you have not yet read the recent post by Charles Hugh Smith at LRC, I encourage you to do so (and found in its entirety here).  I agree with it virtually entirely, and Smith does a thorough job on a topic that I have written about for several years – but instead of my writing it again, I will cite Smith.  The title of his post offers a big clue: “Could the Deep State Be Sabotaging Hillary?”

I suspect it's overly simplistic. I suspect major power centers in the Deep State are actively sabotaging Hillary because they've concluded she is a poisoned chalice who would severely damage the interests of the Deep State and the U.S.A. (Emphasis in original)

While I grant that there are powerful interests who back Hillary (including most of the visible, and therefore less important, of the elite), there are important elements of the elite that do not want to see Clinton as president.  Smith lists several reasons in his post – all accurate, in my view.  The most important one in my mind has been and remains – well, I will again cite Smith:

…Hillary as president would be an unmitigated disaster for the elements of the Deep State that have concluded the U.S. must move beyond the neo-con strategic failures to secure the nation's core interests.

I will summarize my reasons as to why I have felt this way for the last several years. 

First and foremost, the elite fear nuclear war as much as you and I do.  Ever since Clinton I (another reason they don’t want Clinton II), the US has pushed further and further toward antagonizing the one great power that can annihilate not only the US but the world; add to this the antagonism toward nuclear-capable China (I recall Hillary threatening to act against China regarding the South China Sea on more than one occasion – the South China Sea being adjacent to…China).

Was there antagonism and risk of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War?  Certainly.  But there were also buffer zones between the reach of the United States and Soviet (and now Russian) borders; there were mechanism to avert and diffuse tension.  Today there are none – even former Soviet Republics are now within NATO.

Second: why did Hillary lose in 2008?  The election was clear path for a Democrat, after the disaster of the Bush-Cheney years.  Why was an almost unknown, completely inexperienced senator chosen in place of her?  Even McCain would seemingly have been an acceptable candidate if the simple narrative of “the elite” is accepted.

Was it spontaneous combustion that turned Obama into the media favorite almost overnight?

I have long felt that Obama was chosen because he was the relative hawk dove in the bunch.  Despite the continuation and expansion of wars throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, I remain of the view that the destruction would have been worse under Clinton: Iran, Ukraine, Syria (even worse than now, with Assad destroyed) – all leading to confrontation with Russia.

Third: significant individuals have written against the US policies of war, expansion, and antagonism toward Russia.  Here is my write-up based on commentary from Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations (the post begins with a lamentation of Rand Paul’s switch to neocon – a few years ago I felt Rand was the selected vessel for this alternative-elite path, except that he couldn’t read the tea leaves at all).  A small sample, from Gelb:

Russians, Americans, Europeans, and Ukrainians plunge on toward the all-time foreign policy record for venality, lying, hypocrisy and self-destructive maneuvers. They show no shame and scant regard for consequences.

Last but not least are our very own American heroes. Hillary Clinton, of course, hit the jackpot with her comparison of Putin to Hitler (never mind her clarification the next day).

How about John J. Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago, writing in Foreign Affairs, the publication of the Council on Foreign Relations?  Again, a small sample:

According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression…But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis.

For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president -- which he rightly labeled a “coup” -- was the final straw.

Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics.

Not a big enough name for you?  What about Henry Kissinger, listing one after another the failings of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War?

Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan's young democracy is on the verge of paralysis.

To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination.

Kissinger has written and spoken often on his disappointment with the direction US foreign policy has taken with respect to Russia and China over the last decades.


Hillary, like many tools, is a wind-up doll: playing the game she was trained to play and unable to consider other issues.  Unfortunately, there are many like her.  This is the risk to those who have created the monster (the US government) that they may not be able now to control.

It seems to me the "deep-state" prefers the Kissinger / Nixon model - enough tension to keep fear in the population, but behind the scenes (and sometimes in public view) a working relationship that involves communication and cooperation in order to minimize the risks.

Clinton offers no hope in this regard; Trump says “Let’s make a deal.”

There is a meaningful subset of the Anglo-elite that prefers “Let’s make a deal.”


  1. This is quite thoughtful. Hillary as her own Potemkin Village. The good news is that the Powers That Be are divided, stupid and incompetent. Given all the power to be wielded they misplay at every point. Both Russia and China have the measure of this and they are not divided, they have clear purpose and the means. Hilary as President can huff and puff but her country is terminally at war with itself, politically paralyzed and bankrupt. Europe is finished and facing serious civil upheaval. All these toadies cheering Hilary on right now will have a lot to answer for soon enough.

  2. This argument certainly cannot be dismissed out of hand, but I don't find it ultimately convincing. While it is plausible that there are (relatively) rational elements within the Deep State who recognize that things are getting out of hand, I think that if they were any more than a minority, fighting a likely futile rearguard action, they should by now have at least decisively dispatched Hillary and inflicted some meaningful damage on the war-at-any-cost neocons.

  3. I don't know, I'd argue that both Clinton and Trump play into the scheme of the Deep State to incite growing dissatisfaction with individual politicians while at the same time increasing the perception that the State has intrinsic value. That is, the more we argue that the "political system" is broken, implicitly the more we assume it can be fixed, and therefore is worth fixing. To put it another way: Ingrained in the massive unpopularity of Clinton and Trump is the thinking that "If only the right person were leading the country, then we could change things for the better." The focus is no longer on how we define "change things for the better," but is now solely focused on who "the right person" is.

    Thus, the more we gripe and complain about our two presidential choices, the more we quietly assent to the validity and usefulness of government and the false notion that the government is simply a neutral tool that We the People can wield to achieve a common goal.

    According to Hayek, the next step to fixing a "broken political system" is to install a strongman. Whether the Deep State wants a strongman or if it's more advantageous to them to keep the two-party democratic system going indefinitely is up for debate.