Hillary Clinton's Honduras Connection - 2016 Democrat Primaries

And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed…
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right …

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around…
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

- - The Who

Pacifica Reports on Hillary's Honduras Connection
2016 Democrat Primaries, commentary/questions

- by Linda Hewitt and Bob English
April 12, 2016

Hillary's Honduras Horror

Pacifica's Democracy Now! recently aired an investigation of the horrendous effects of US/USAID military/security aid* to Honduras following the US backed coup that overthrew the elected government of President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, focusing on assassinations of indigenous women environmentalists resisting corporate deforestation and destruction of their ancestral land and waters. The extended March 18 feature report, "Slain Activist Berta Cáceres' Daughter: US Military Aid Has Fueled Repression & Violence in Honduras," is well worth reviewing, particularly in the context of our presidential primary election. In addition to the compelling collage of clips and studio interviews with COPINH activists, professor Greg Grandin (NYU) discusses Secretary Clinton's supporting role in the coup, pointing out her real email scandal is in the content, exposing her complicity with the coup regime, counterinsurgency and transnational corporate exploitation, as one of her Hard Choices:

AMY GOODMAN: That was Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres speaking in 2014. She was murdered last week in her home in La Esperanza in Honduras. Last year, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize. She’s a leading environmentalist in the world. Professor Grandin?

GREG GRANDIN: Yeah, and she criticizes Hillary Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, where Clinton was holding up her actions in Honduras as an example of a clear-eyed pragmatism. I mean, that book is effectively a confession. Every other country in the world or in Latin America was demanding the restitution of democracy and the return of Manuel Zelaya. It was Clinton who basically relegated that to a secondary concern and insisted on elections, which had the effect of legitimizing and routinizing the coup regime and creating the nightmare scenario that exists today.

I mean—and it’s also in her emails. The real scandal about the emails isn’t the question about process—you know, she wanted to create an off-the-books communication thing that couldn’t be FOIAed. The real scandal about those emails are the content of the emails. She talks—the process by which she works to delegitimate Zelaya and legitimate the elections, which Cáceres, in that interview, talks about were taking place under extreme militarized conditions, fraudulent, a fig leaf of democracy, are all in the emails.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsing the coup. What is the trajectory of what happened then to the horror of this past week, the assassination of Berta Cáceres?

GREG GRANDIN: Well, that’s just one horror. I mean, hundreds of peasant activists and indigenous activists have been killed. Scores of gay rights activists have been killed. I mean, it’s just—it’s just a nightmare in Honduras. I mean, there’s ways in which the coup regime basically threw up Honduras to transnational pillage. And Berta Cáceres, in that interview, says what was installed after the coup was something like a permanent counterinsurgency on behalf of transnational capital. And that was—that wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for Hillary Clinton’s normalization of that election.

Pacifica-KPFA Flashpoints continues reporting extensively on the coup and terror in Honduras and Secretary Clinton's role and responsibility, including an interview with Mark Weisbrot (Center for Economic and Policy Development) and early feature report on the murder of Berta Caceres https://kpfa.org/episode/flashpoints-march-3-2016.

Of course the Honduras intervention, environmental degradation and death squads targeting resistance are not isolated incidents of US policy but should be viewed in the long historical perspective of colonialism and genocide of indigenous peoples and post-WW2 extension/application of the US Monroe Doctrine in Latin America and worldwide.

2016 Democrat Primaries/Caucuses

A pretty amazing, supercharged, somewhat scary election year, that is if you're following so far and clinging to the questionable assumption that US elections and two party politics are meaningful, worth our attention and energy toward real political-economic-social power and transformation. At least in this one, this time a wider range of politics and choices that cannot be ignored: Trump hammered Republicans and pissed-off white legions marching further into neo-fascism vs. the Dems finally budging left from center-right, the Sanders campaign apparently mobilizing grassroots "political revolution," for some the only presidential election in a lifetime with a major party New Deal progressive, social democrat (given our prejudiced political associations of “socialism” vs. Social Democrat left parties of Europe, the “democratic socialist” label is unfortunate, open to distortion).

Yet in corporate mainstream media commentary, also with Democrat party leadership, insiders and regulars, including many women and people of color, even progressives (based on prior affiliation, personality, liberal image and the imperative of electing the first woman US President), it's been an article of truth or faith that Hillary Clinton is better “qualified,” experienced and positioned than Bernie. Just ask Hillary herself. With a super-delegate inflated lead, backing of high-end donors and regional party machines, and piling up the southern states, she remained the presumed party nominee, until recently. The Sanders campaign had been written off mathematically, no chance, and not well covered, despite winning or closely splitting delegates in several early and critical states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Massachusetts, Illinois).

April 5, Wisconsin Votes, Bernie Wins Again

But hold it, that narrative is unraveling if not blown, with Bernie winning big in Wisconsin, eight of the last nine primaries and caucuses by landslide margins, including six western states (Idaho, Utah, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming), and with the largest, delegate rich state primaries upcoming (New York, California). For instance, the veteran political junkies covering the races for the Showtime series The Circus, who two weeks earlier presided over Bernie's burial, finally changed their tune on the Sunday April 3 show "On Wisconsin." Looking back over beers at McKiernan's in Milwaukee (where Giants-Brewers baseball opened next day), they agreed the campaign directions and nomination prospects are even less certain than after Iowa:

" …What we know is, the two most unpredictable forces in politics today are the Sanders revolution and the Trump movement. Nothing is a sure thing, which is the beautiful thing about democracy … whenever we think it's fixed, the voters step in and turn it around. The one thing we can say absolutely, this has been the most fascinating election of our lifetime."

So again assuming the 2016 Dem primaries and nomination are important enough, and facing whatever poisonous, reactionary alternative (even if it’s not the Trumped-up egomaniacal, demagogic, delusional, xenophobic, racist, misogynist … nightmare), let's think this through, being mindful to see things clearly as they have been and are now.

First, do we really want to send the Clintons back to the White House? Return the Lincoln bedroom to a B'nB for their corporate and 1% supporters? Sure, we'd all love to reverse gender roles and finally hear "Madam President," but does the first "First Gentleman" have to be Bill "Slick Willie" Clinton? Turn that guy loose on WH interns again? (perish the thought, although we could argue he may've deserved impeachment for policy crimes, not his sins).

Seriously – and for now reserving a review of Bill's dismal, faux liberal, Republican-lite domestic policies and initiatives, that are now coming back to haunt him and Hillary’s run (Welfare "reform," Wall Street & FCC telecommunications deregulation, pre-Patriot Act homeland security, crime bill enabling mass incarceration, “reinventing”/downsizing government, pre-"Obama-care" health insurance reform, denial of Leonard Peltier clemency) -- let's remember and realistically assess the 1993-2000 Clinton foreign policy record. With few positive distinctions, it’s a continuation of the military-capital driven, "bipartisan" US foreign policies and worldwide empire expansion/maintenance of George Bush I and previous presidencies, highlighted by:

• NAFTA (neo-liberal “free trade,” global capital corporate wet dream, massive outsourcing of US worker jobs; privatization, industrialization, environmental degradation, exploitation of cheap labor and natural-public resources in developing countries),

• Bosnia-Kosovo wars, NATO bombing;

• continued Iraq bombing and US/UN sanctions genocide (estimated half-million Iraqi civilian deaths, mostly children, from unpurified water, devastated infrastructure);

• other regional military/political interventions, troop deployments (Africa, Haiti),

• continued Israel military aid, Palestinian dispossession/ occupation, attempted-aborted peace process.

Further, in the perpetual "War on Terror" and lethal drone warfare in seven countries, and in Central America (as documented by recent Pacifica investigative reports noted above), the Obama administration with Secretary Clinton has been a literally death warmed over version of the same old US foreign policy and the George Bush II horror show.

So it's fair to ask, would any of that change under a Hillary Clinton administration? After all she has a record serving as First Lady, NY Senator and Secretary of State, again with the assumption of superior international, foreign policy experience and capability. Let's take a look beyond the campaign rhetoric, progressive pretensions and claims to competence, experience, toughness and pragmatism, and toward other abilities and qualities we expect or hope to find in a woman presidency, such as diplomacy, foresight, sensibility, creativity, responsiveness, transparency, honesty and humanitarian compassion.

We won't get fooled again!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Hillary the Neo-Con

Well, we already know, Hillary has always catered to the Israel-Zionist lobby/AIPAC and that her close policy advisors, associates and allies include Secretary Madeline Albright (who justified mass Iraqi children deaths) and serial war criminals Henry Kissinger and Benjamin Netanyahu.

We also know she supported so-called "free trade" treaties, along with colleagues in both parties and successive presidents (Bill Clinton, Bush II, Obama), including the 2011 Panama Free Trade Agreement (PFTA). Last week in a stunning, continued revival of investigative reporting, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists began a massive document-data release known as the Panama Papers, detailing PFTA legalized management of offshore tax shelters and money laundering/theft for the rich and powerful of many countries, including hundreds of government leaders/families. As reported by Democracy Now! (April 5 show, interviews with the story co-author and publisher), Bernie Sanders predicted such abuses and corruption while denouncing the treaty on the Senate floor.

While we know Bernie has a way to go in forming an enlightened foreign policy, the following articles and Pacifica-KPFA radio reports clarify substantial differences between him and Hillary and provide a realist view of Clinton's complicity and deep involvement with the worst traditions and actions of US global capitalism, militarism and intervention.

In a hard-hitting, incisive truthdig article "Want Endless War? Love the US Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton’s Your Choice," Professor Marjorie Cohn (Thomas Jefferson School of Law) dissects Secretary Clinton's foreign policy record and positions, including her consistent support and justification of Middle East wars, regime change and destabilization (Libya, Syria, Iraq), "Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian lands," periodic Gaza invasions and massacres, for which she blames the Palestinian victims. Hillary is quoted talking tough on Iran and Islamic State, threatening massive military actions and escalation of wars in Iraq and Syria, not suggesting peaceful diplomacy or arms controls. In sum, she's more hawkish than Obama, whose policies she pledges to continue, and an equal proponent of "American exceptionalism" and world leadership, i.e. supremacy/domination.

"It is this view that animates US invasions, interventions, bombings and occupations of other countries. Under the pretense of protecting our national interest, the United States maintains some 800 military bases in other countries, costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually. Often referred to as 'enduring bases,' they enable us to mount attacks whenever and wherever our leaders see fit, whether with drones or manned aircraft."

Flashpoints' Dennis Bernstein, interviewing Dr. Cohn and Professor Stephen Zunes (SF State University), pursues an in-depth analysis of Clinton's interventionist, pro-war foreign policy orientation, characterized by Zunes as fundamentally neo-conservative. Remember the lovely Neo-Cons - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, the boys who with Bush II extended the Monroe Doctrine around the planet and never saw an invasion plan they didn't like ("Real men want to go to Iran")? Contrasting Senators Clinton and Sanders' late 2002 Iraq War votes, Zunes notes (also in a recent article) that Hillary rejected moderate Democratic resolutions for restoring UN inspections (which Iraq had agreed to) in favor of the disastrous Bush/Republican military option (Bernie voted against) that ignited massive, worldwide peace demonstrations:

“That war not only resulted in 4,500 American soldiers being killed and thousands more permanently disabled, but also hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, the destabilization of the region with the rise of the Islamic State and other extremists, and a dramatic increase in the federal deficit, resulting in major cutbacks to important social programs. Moreover, the primary reasons Clinton gave for supporting President George W. Bush’s request for authorizing that illegal and unnecessary war have long been proven false.

As a result, many Democratic voters are questioning — despite her years of foreign policy experience—whether Clinton has the judgment and integrity to lead the United States on the world stage.”

Notably from a similar perspective, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard resigned from the Democrat National Committee to endorse Bernie Sanders, pointing to the wisdom of his restrained position on military intervention:

"As a veteran, as a soldier, I've seen firsthand the true cost of war. … As we look at our choices as to who our next Commander-in-chief will be is to recognize the necessity to have a Commander-in-chief who has foresight. Who exercises good judgment. Who looks at the consequences of the actions that they are willing to take before they take those actions. So that we don't continue to find ourselves in these failures that have resulted in chaos in the Middle East and so much loss of life."

So in considering the Dem candidates, Hillary vs. Bernie, what do we put first: gender, ethnicity/religion, or their real politics? For a woman presidency, is it any woman (remember Margaret Thatcher)? Hillary now or a real progressive choice next time, notably Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (scholar, consumer advocate, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau founder, presidential assistant/advisor)? Again, what public service, leader/ representative record, qualities and direction are we looking for?

Is it naïve, asking too much, beyond our means or power to build and support political/community movements and populist leaders/candidates committed and accountable to grassroots democracy, peace, social-economic justice and equality? If so, still sadly too much to expect or realize, that would be a measure of our national collective pathology and demise; while understanding and affirming these movements and choices have arrived, developing and essential, means a lasting, brighter “better world is possible.”

Linda Hewitt and Bob English
April 12, 2016

* On a personal verifying note, from experience as a young student intern with USAID in Dhaka, East Bengal (East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) in 1967, Bob learned first hand about US "economic development assistance,” not as humanitarian aid but primarily an arm of US foreign policy, strategic and economic interests. There’s the concept of “externality” to benefit US exports. Country aid is allocated in programs and field specialists by sector, such as education, "manpower" and agriculture, where for instance chemical fertilizers are introduced to "increase production," in a monsoon, river water world that has grown rice and crops organically for centuries. More to the point, a substantial portion of aid goes to security programs and officers (e.g. retired police chiefs) to train and equip police and tactical squads to suppress student demonstrations and activist movements.