Cross-posted from Blue News Tribune.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ratcheted up bellicose US rhetoric against Iran Wednesday, accusing the country of funding “terrorism” and interfering in the internal affairs of states throughout the Middle East. Her statements coincided with the release of a report by a Washington think tank with ties to the Obama administration suggesting that the US should establish a “nuclear umbrella” over the region.
Making it clear that the question of Iran had been central to her talks in Israel, the occupied West Bank and Egypt, Clinton declared, “It is clear that Iran intends to interfere with the internal affairs of all these people and try to continue their efforts to fund terrorism, whether it’s Hezbollah or Hamas or other proxies.”
What was that, Madam Secretary?
Washington has branded as “foreign terrorist organizations” both Hamas, which is the elected government of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and Hezbollah, which is one of the most powerful political organizations in Lebanon and part of the national unity government, because both have resisted Israeli occupations.
There’s more. A report issued by a think tank thinks this is a good idea. (I think “pro-Israeli” may be an overstatement, and Obama-linked seems to be a stretch.)
The report issued by the Washington Institute on Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israeli think tank, was billed as the work of a “Presidential Task Force” and was titled, “Preventing a cascade of instability: US engagement to check Iranian nuclear progress.”
The 15-member panel that prepared the document included former State Department and National Security Council officials, members of Congress and the former chief of the US Strategic Command.
Also listed as having endorsed an earlier draft of the report was Dennis Ross, who worked at WINEP for seven years before being recently appointed as the Obama administration’s special envoy for the Persian Gulf.
The report frames the US confrontation with Iran over the nuclear question as part of a broader struggle for American hegemony throughout the region, including the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By taking strong measures against Iran, it argues, Washington can strengthen its position throughout the Middle East. “Vigorous steps to shore up regional stability could check unfounded perceptions by some that the US star is waning,” the report states.
Clearly suggesting that the conflict has been deliberately sought as a means of furthering key strategic objectives, the authors write, “Confronting the Iran nuclear program also offers opportunities to advance US interests… to deepen US relationships with its Middle East friends.”
I can’t imagine the secretary is freelancing here; she was widely criticized for her “obliterate” comment.
During the course of the 2008 election campaign, then-Democratic Party presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton declared her support for just such an umbrella, vowing that as president she would “obliterate” Iran in the event it attacked Israel.
“An attack on Israel,” she said in a Democratic candidates’ debate last April, “would trigger massive retaliation. But so would an attack on those countries [she mentioned by name the monarchies of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait] that are willing to go under the security umbrella and forswear their own nuclear ambitions.”
The WINEP report notes, “The Cold War experience suggests that deployments of weapons and troops are often necessary to make pledges [of deterrence] credible.” It likewise indicates that such a nuclear umbrella should be formalized through a congressionally approved treaty.
Obviously, such proposals encompass far more than the US confrontation with Iran. They would have the effect of turning the other oil-rich countries of the Persian Gulf and much of the Middle East into a declared American military protectorate. Such an arrangement would have far-reaching strategic implications, above all in the conflict between American imperialism and its rivals in Europe and Asia for control of markets and resources under conditions of the deepening global slump.
That’s probably a bit over the top at the end there. But this is serious business. There is a word for the widespread application of military power to secure our interests.
That word is neoconservatism.
It was statements like these, and other hawkish statements by Mark Penn (he was fired for attending a trade hearing, but nothing was said when he appeared at a hearing on behalf of Blackwater) that made me decide, after months of keeping an open mind, that I could not vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. (Naturally, I would support her over any Republican.)
Now Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State, serving at the pleasure of the more diplomatically inclined President Barack Obama.
I look forward to our vigilant, issue-oriented press asking the president about Secretary Clinton’s statement.