Stephen Zunes : Electoral Politics
Clinton supporters want Democratic voters to forgive their candidate’s support for the most disastrous foreign policy decision in decades. They shouldn’t.
Supporters of international law have expressed consternation that the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president — like most of her potential Republican rivals — strongly supported the illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Hillary Clinton’s support for the Bush administration’s request for war authorization effectively placed her in opposition to the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles forbidding such wars of aggression. Ironically, these important international legal standards were in large part designed by officials from administrations of the very political party she hopes to represent in the contest for the White House.
There’s a bipartisan effort to justify the killing of civilians in the “war on terrorism.”
Supporters of the international legal framework – which has, with mixed success, governed international affairs since the end of World War II – have long expressed concerns over the prospect of former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton becoming president. Her support for the US invasion of Iraq (a flagrant violation of the UN Charter), as well as her hostility toward the International Criminal Court, her support for international recognition of Morocco’s illegal annexation of occupied Western Sahara, and her attacks against the United Nations and a number of its key agencies raise concerns that her election would bring a return to the Bush administration’s neoconservative rejection of longstanding international legal principles.
More than a dozen years later, Hillary Clinton is still being haunted by her decision to break with the majority of her Congressional Democratic colleagues and vote in favor of President George W. Bush’s call to authorize the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s position on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank does not bode well for her future foreign policy.
For more than a half-century, a series of United Nations resolutions and rulings by the International Court of Justice have underscored the rights of inhabitants of countries under colonial rule or foreign military occupation. Among these is the right to “freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources,” which “must be based on the principles of equality and of the right of peoples and nations to self-determination.”
Hillary Clinton leaves her position as Secretary of State with a legacy of supporting autocratic regimes and occupation armies, opposing enforcement of international humanitarian law, undermining arms control and defending military solutions to complex political problems. She was appointed to her position following eight years in the US Senate, during which she became an outspoken supporter of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, lied about Iraq’s military capabilities to frighten the public into supporting the illegal war, unleashed repeated attacks against the United Nations, opposed restrictions on land mines and cluster bombs, defended war crimes by allied right-wing governments and largely embraced Bush’s unilateralist agenda.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the third and final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign was the similarity between the two candidates on many basic foreign policy issues. Part of the reason is that, as he did in the first two debates, GOP candidate Mitt Romney reversed himself on a number of extreme right-wing positions he had taken earlier in a desperate effort to depict himself as a moderate. At the same time, Obama’s hawkish stances served as yet another reminder of just how far to the right Obama has evolved since running as an anti-war candidate just four years ago.