Hillary Clinton has been invited to receive an honorary degree for her ‘outstanding contribution to peace and reconciliation’ at Queen’s University, Belfast. Paul Loughran, organiser of protesters countering the honorary degree, argues that these accolades could not be further from the truth.
It is paradoxical that Hillary Clinton should be invited to receive an honorary degree from any university for the accolades of ‘outstanding contribution to peace and reconciliation’. Those who have decided to honour her have overlooked a career of advancing the imperialist aims of the US through murderous campaigns in the Middle East, merciless drone bombing campaigns and a dedicated commitment to appeasing and supporting an apartheid Zionist regime in Israel, all under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” and “liberation”.
Support for Israel
Ironically Hillary Clinton—now an ardent supporter and defender of Zionism, who engages in appeasing the Israeli state during election campaigns as a means of drumming up political support—remains the only major-party US Presidential nominee ever to have visited the Gaza Strip. In 1998, she flew alongside her husband, who was president at the time, to inaugurate the Gaza International Airport, which was destroyed just three years later by Israel. It was on this trip that Hillary went off-script when speaking to a group of Israeli and Palestinian teens and professed that “it will be in the long-term interest of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state”. Clinton faced backlash from both Israel and right-wing US politicians and this anger developed further when she kissed the cheek of Suha Arafat, the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, at an event soon after Arafat had accused the Israeli state of using poisonous gas against Palestinians. Just one year on, Clinton herself was running for office and the rhetoric changed. On the campaign trail for the New York Senate elections she was already deflecting questions about Palestine statehood and referring to Israel as the “51st (American) state”.
By 2006, Clinton was secretly recorded talking to the Jewish Press in a discussion where she showed her true disregard for Palestinian liberation and democracy, when she discussed rigging an election. Referring to a recent vote, she said: “I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake… and if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.”
When she went on to assume the role of Secretary of State in the Obama administration, Clinton was outspoken about her support for the West Bank wall and her strong adverseness to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. In 2015, in the pursuit of campaign donations, Clinton wrote to billionaire Haim Saban vowing “to make countering BDS a priority”, if elected President. Leaked emails would later show that her campaign team had purposely leaked this letter to appeal to donors in favour of a candidate who would make pro-Israeli foreign policy a priority. In 2014, Israel engaged in an all-out assault on Gaza. The Israel establishment narrative was that Israel was under attack, but even mainstream US media picked up on the disproportionate amount of Palestinians being murdered. Clinton, however, chose this time to express her full support for Israel by declaring that “Israel was right to defend itself”.
Enthusiastic Proponent for Drones
While still in the office of Secretary of State under Obama, drone strikes became an effective tool for the US to indiscriminately bomb targets from afar. Clinton was an enthusiastic proponent of increased drone use. In fact, though the hawkish interventions of the Bush administration had been so heavily criticised that Clinton and Obama were forced to undertake bombing campaigns under the auspices of “humanitarian efforts”, the number of civilians racked up during their time in office outstrips Bush by twice as many.
Clinton would later write in her memoir Hard Choices that drones were “one of the most effective and controversial elements” of the ‘war on terror’, “but in 2009 all I could say was ‘No comment’ whenever the subject came up.” It was later revealed that Clinton would approve drone strikes on-the-go whilst using her Blackberry mobile phone. There have been consistent debates as to the legality of these drone strikes under International law, aside from the obvious lack of morality involved in dropping bombs on targets, knowing that innocent civilians will die. In 2016 the Obama administration claimed that between 64 and 116 “non-combatants” have been killed in drone strikes between 2009 and 2015, but this was discredited by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which gave a more accurate estimate of between 380 and 801 innocent civilians slaughtered.
Drones had become so normalised to Clinton that during discussions about how to deal with Wikileaks, who at the time were leaking US government classified information, Clinton was rumoured to have suggested the plan of droning Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who was inside the Ecuadorian Embassy. When questioned about whether this story was true – Clinton said that she “did not recall” saying it, but if she did say it then it would “have been a joke”.
Close friend of Henry Kissinger
They say we can judge a person by those they call friends. If true, Hillary Clinton’s personal warmongering efforts would seem to make sense, given the esteem with which she bestows ‘friend’ Henry Kissinger. Clinton once boasted of being flattered that Kissinger—whose attributed list of war crimes committed, involving military coups and complicity with fascist dictatorships, is longer than most—said that she was the best secretary of state he’d known. This she considered an honour, from a man who also pushed forward US support for the Pakistan state during the Bangladesh War, overlooking a devastating genocide. Halfway through that conflict, the CIA estimated a conservative figure of 200,000 deaths and as many as 10 million Bengali refugees displaced.
And Clinton has very publicly put on record her admiration of Henry Kissinger many times, particularly during her 2016 US Presidential campaign. In her review of Kissinger’s book she referred to him as a “friend” and wrote of how she had “relied on his counsel” when she was Secretary of State. Clinton went so far as to declare Kissinger’s disgusting foreign policy record as “just and liberal” – an insight into what seemingly inspired her own time in office.
Whilst a Senator in 2002, Hillary Clinton voted in support of the Iraq War and would become a fierce proponent of the occupation which, after only three years, had already claimed the lives of over half a million Iraqis. Clinton would go on to defend her vote, continually refusing to say that she had any regret and instead, focused criticism on how the Bush administration carried out their military actions. In fact, it wasn’t until 2015 (conveniently just as she was about to run for the US Presidency) that Hillary Clinton decided to express any regret about her decisions at that time and she declared her vote for war as a “mistake”. We all make mistakes, of course. Most don’t assist in authorising a war that would claim half a million lives and most wouldn’t so fervently stand by a mistake which did.
From Iraq to Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Honduras and beyond, Hillary Clinton’s imperialist record is clear for anyone who wishes to see it. Her “mistake” in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq was one that she would commit countless times in the years that followed, but regret for those decisions, and the bodies left behind, is not to be found. Nor will one find remorse for her uncritical support of her husbands infamous ‘crime bill’ which spurred her ‘super predators’ comment in relation to children caught up in gangs.
Nowadays Hillary Clinton, the self professed ‘moderate capitalist’ admits that her capitalist leanings have hampered her chances of winning the recent presidential election, the which context of which was a tussle between two extremes—Bernie Sander’s Democratic Socialism and Donald Trump’s wanton barbarism. When not running for election, she takes hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches to the bosses of banks likes Goldman Sachs, and other architects of the 2007 financial crisis. And just yesterday, she spoke to journalist Chrisiane Amanpour of the need for civility, if the democrats are to take back the house or the senate.
Hillary Clinton’s knows nothing of civility. She is a warmonger, with elite interests and blood on her hands. The administration of Queen’s University Belfast were wrong to offer her an honorary degree for her ‘outstanding contribution to peace and reconciliation’, and those who continue to allow her to whitewash her past and throw on the cloak of ‘civility’ are wrong too.
But there are sprigs of hope right across the US in the growing numbers of new socialists, breakthroughs for candidates who opening talk about socialism and societal change, and rigorous opposition to Trump’s presidency. There is without a doubt a need for change in the US, but it will only come in fighting for a different kind of society, where equality is the goal and imperialism is not. Hillary Clinton has no interest in that fight.
No honours for warmongers. No more warmongers for president.