Hillary to CFR: Unilateralism Lite for a “New American Moment”

Webster G. Tarpley
September 21, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s address to Wall Street bigwigs of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City on the eve of this year’s session of the United Nations General Assembly documents the startling degree to which the mental processes of the US ruling elite have become disconnected from world reality. Hillary’s Leitmotiv in this speech was a constant harping on the reality and imperative necessity of US world leadership, which she claimed had opened the immediate perspective for a “New American Moment” on her watch. To this extent, she sounded very much like any neocon of the Bush-Cheney era. But Hillary did offer some slight variations on the usual note of triumphalism, which of course goes back to Madeleine Albright’s slogan of the United States as the “indispensable nation.” Hillary’s unilateralism comes dished up in a slightly more appealing camouflage than was the case with the neocon plug-uglies. The current US line under Obama can therefore be described as unilateralism in disguise, unilateralism in drag, or unilateralism lite.

Hillary made clear that she does not want a multi-polar world, since this would involve a frank recognition of the legitimate conflicts of interest between the would-be US hegemon and the other major powers. Hillary’s formula for expressing this difference is to say that she does not want a multi-polar world, but rather a multi-partner world – with the latter being centered, it goes without saying, on the United States. She quoted Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who made policy for Harry Truman, the obedient Missouri ward heeler who served the US financier elite by restoring the presidency to its puppet status after a dozen years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s powerful and independent leadership.

Acheson, who functioned as a retainer for W. Averell Harriman of the Brown Brothers Harriman investment bank, once observed that it is better to evoke support rather than merely compelling it. This means in today’s terms that it is better to offer trifling concessions and soothing rhetoric to the junior partners in US-led aggressive coalitions, rather than trying to bully these other nations into line with threats and bluster. But the outcome envisaged by Clinton is clearly the same.

Condoleezza Rice, who was widely caricatured as a vampire, came to the United Nations as the de facto dominatrix of the world, metaphorically brandishing her riding crop at every opportunity. Hillary is not so crude: she wants to be the schoolmarm of the world, or better yet the governess of the world – provided that her unruly charges are kept in their place. But there is no change in the grating notes of arrogance, hypocrisy, and double standards. Hillary claimed that the United States policy is helping less developed countries to lift themselves out of poverty, and then cited the Palestinian occupied territories as a success story. What planet does the US elite live on?

Hillary’s talk of a new American moment, complete with reference to Dean Acheson, points up the difference in the US world position today as compared to 1945-1950. Despite the Hillary’s references to a US national renewal focusing on the restoration of “economic might,” the fact is that the post-industrial, de-industrialized United States of today has almost nothing positive to offer the rest of the world in terms of economic cooperation. Towards the end of World War II, the United States could offer Lend-Lease assistance to its allies, both for self-defense and for postwar reconstruction, thanks to FDR’s policy of including development aid along with military shipments as the fighting wound down. Starting in 1944, the US could offer participation in rapidly expanding world trade under the Bretton Woods system, whose fixed parities and gold settlement made it the most successful world monetary system in human history before or since. A few years after the war ended, the United States could offer Marshall Plan assistance, also for postwar economic reconstruction. This was supplemented by the Point Four Program, a serious program of US foreign aid. As a result of all these, cooperating with the US became a way to take part in a global economic upswing which lasted a quarter century and more.

And what does the United States have to offer today? Free trade, globalization, hot money, the world casino economy, a $1.5 quadrillion derivatives bubble, deregulation, privatization, growing income disparities, and immiseration -in short, the hated and discredited Washington consensus which the IMF is still trying to impose. There is also an incessant meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign states done under the hypocritical cover of human rights, sometimes reaching a culmination in the form of a color revolution or CIA people power coup. It should not be a surprise that so many turn away and begin wondering what China might have to offer. At the CFR, Hillary targeted Egypt, Russia, and China as top human rights abusers on the US hit list.

In terms of the details, we can say that the entire world economy has been deteriorating since 2007 at the very latest. The Israel-Palestine talks which Hillary touts appear less concerned with actually solving this dispute than with making it easier for Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Jordan to take part in a US-led Sunni-Arab coalition against the Persian-Shiite forces arrayed around Iran. In Iraq, the war goes on despite all the claims of the Obama administration, and the US has been utterly unable to produce the desired outcome of an Allawi puppet regime that could make some trouble for Iran.

Cryptome has published what purports to be a diplomatic cable from Hillary Clinton herself to the US Embassy in Israel announcing the existence of a bipartisan US consensus that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, that such an eventuality is utterly unacceptable, and that a military attack on Iran would create optimal conditions for regime change in that country. The cable also suggests that it is time to play Colombia against Venezuela, and thus overthrow the allegedly pro-Iranian Chavez regime in Caracas.

In Afghanistan, NATO losses have reached an all-time high, even as the US-led coalition crumbles, with the Dutch already gone, Canada on its way out, and British and US generals fighting among themselves over who is responsible for defeat. Hillary herself has inaugurated a policy of aggressive US meddling in the multilateral South China Sea territorial waters disputes as well as in the Yellow Sea, where the presence of US warships so close to Beijing has created much tension in the Chinese capital. As part of this general thrust, Hillary signaled that the United States will apply an all-court press to ASEAN, barging in as an unwelcome intruder to make trouble where the US presence is clearly not desired,

Hillary gave herself much credit for the signing of the US-Russian START treaty on nuclear weapons, but it is far from clear whether this treaty can be ratified soon. Indeed, Hillary went out of her way to keep alive the dispute between the United States and Russia over Georgia, mentioning en passant that she will never agree with the Russian accounts of what happened in August 2008, i.e., with the reality of Georgian aggression.

As regards Africa, Hillary is obviously very nervous about the growing Chinese presence, which she would obviously like to contain under the cloak of bilateral coordination between Washington and Beijing. The real US intentions concerning Africa came out more clearly when she turned to the question of whether the southern Sudan would secede from that country in the near term, an outcome which she obviously ardently desires, but which has a very good chance of leading to a civil war and perhaps a regional war as well. Since the US is economically incapable of offering a realistic alternative to Chinese economic cooperation offers, Foggy Bottom obviously prefers scorched earth on that entire continent, starting with the oil-rich Sudan, to a robust Chinese presence.

Finally, Hillary has not forgotten her own consuming personal ambition. On the one hand, she remains terrified of any accusation of softness or appeasement, which automatically requires her to act out as the biggest warmonger on any given issue. She is still unaware that this is what weakness really means in practice – the need to overcompensate with aggressive posturing for a pervasive feeling of personal inadequacy. But at the same time, Hillary appears oriented towards the post-Obama era, and especially towards the time later this year and early next year when Obama is likely to have been further weakened by a humiliating defeat in the November elections, and by more losses, disarray, and defections in the Afghanistan war effort. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the leading right-wing paper in Germany, recently reported that top financial angels of the Democratic party are now demanding a minimum program of Hillary as vice presidential candidate for 2012 in place of the motor mouth Biden, while preferring a maximum program of dumping Obama in favor of Hillary for President. At this point, any primary challenge to Obama would be welcome, since it would tend to bring multiple contenders into the presidential field, just as Eugene McCarthy brought Robert Kennedy into the race in 1968, the last time a warmonger Democratic was bidding for re-election.

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