Hillary or Bernie? I’m With My Friends

by James M. Wallimages

Some of my friends support Hillary; some of my friends support Bernie. Me? I’m with my friends.

I first heard those fence-straddling words of wisdom from a wise old Chicago politician. It is a good way to approach the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders race this early in the year.

Why not wait until a few more states vote before we agree on the strongest candidate to run against whichever Republican emerges from the hard-right options currently wallowing in the muck of the GOP primary and caucus races.

Strong support from minority voters in Nevada and South Carolina (on February 20, 23, and 27) could deliver twin victories to Clinton over Sanders. On Tuesday, March 1, voters in 13 states, American Samoa and Democrats Abroad, will make their decisions between the two Democratic opponents.

If that leader is Clinton, a nagging question must be asked:

Is she too military-minded for the Democratic liberal base she needs to win a general election?

Clinton may look like the strongest candidate to defeat any Republican. But will she take the nation back to the bellicose military policies favored by Israel and corporate military interests? 

Is that a fair question? Maybe not, but Clinton’s critics are asking it, and her strongest supporters are worried about it. 

Sanders has the most enthusiastic supporters, but enthusiasm goes only so far. Regrettably, we know little about Sanders’ foreign policy views.  We do know a great deal about Hillary Clinton’s record. 

Stephen Zunes wrote an essay for the Cairo Review of Global Affairs which offers troubling reminders from her record. 

Zunes is professor of politics and international studies and program director of Middle Eastern studies at the University of San Francisco. His essay is entitled “Hillary the Hawk”.  

He argues that a President Clinton would push this nation back toward militarization of the problems she has faced as Secretary of State.  

“If Clinton wins the American presidency in 2016, she will be confronted with the same momentous regional issues she handled without distinction as Obama’s first secretary of state: among them, the civil war and regional proxy war in Syria; the Syrian conflict’s massive refugee crisis; civil conflict in Yemen and Libya; political fragility in Iraq and Afghanistan; Iran’s regional ambitions; the Israel-Palestine conflict; and deteriorating relations with longstanding allies Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

“There are disagreements as to whether Clinton truly embraces a neoconservative or other strong ideological commitment to hardline policies or whether it is part of a political calculation to protect herself from criticism from Republicans who hold positions even further to the right.

“But considering that the Democratic Party base is shifting more to the left, that she represented the relatively liberal state of New York in the Senate, and that her 2008 presidential hopes were derailed in large part by her support for the Iraq war, it would probably be a mistake to assume her positions have been based primarily on political expediency.

“Regardless of her motivations, however, a look at the positions she has taken on a number of the key Middle East policy issues suggest that her presidency would shift America to a still more militaristic and interventionist policy that further marginalizes concerns for human rights or international law.”

Clinton, then a senator from New York, was among a minority of Democrats who supported President George W. Bush’s request for congressional backing to attack Iraq.

In her 2002 senate speech she said she was persuaded that Saddam Hussein was moving toward a nuclear capability. In voting with Bush she said her vote was one “cast with conviction”.

She has since said the vote “was a mistake”. But, she did cast it, in her own words, “with conviction”. Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, spoke against the war.

In casting that vote “with conviction”, she was in harmony with Israel’s eagerness to attack Iraq. Bernie Sanders, a secular Jew, and also a member of Congress, voted against the Bush request.

C-SPAN has posted a ten-minute video clip (below) that contrasts the different positions taken in 2002, first by Sanders, and then by Clinton. 

That was 2002. The “shock and awe” attack on Iraq followed in early 2003.  Now, 14 years later, Clinton and Sanders meet on a 2016 political battlefield to determine which of them should be the Democratic nominee.

Bernie Sanders has said very little about what he would do to negotiate this nation through the minefield of conflicts with which Hillary Clinton dealt during her years as Secretary of State. His vote against the Iraq war is encouraging. His reluctance to speak in depth on contemporary issues is discouraging.

Sanders’ raison d’être, his passion for correcting the imbalance in the nation’s economy, is a worthy cause, badly needed. Thus far, however, as a candidate, he has failed to direct much of that passion toward ending Israel’s occupation, the root cause of the conflicts the next President will face in the Levant. 

Clinton’s insistence on taking a gun to the diplomatic bargaining table might help her with her neoconservative friends and her pro-Israel financial backers who are eager to embrace American military solutions to every Levant problem.

Pistol-packing diplomacy excites Israel’s loyalists, but it does nothing to restore any semblance of freedom to a captive and long-suffering Palestinian population.

Which of the two candidates is best prepared to negotiate a foreign policy in the best interest of a war-weary American public, and at the same time, is in the best interest of war-weary nations saddled with the empirical militaristic policies of successive U.S. administrations?

Which of the two candidates is best equipped to win a general election in November?

Some of my friends think it is Hillary; some of my friends think it is Bernie. Me? I will stick with my friends until I have had time to study this a bit longer. You got any better ideas?

The picture of Hillary Clinton at top is a screen grab.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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10 Responses to Hillary or Bernie? I’m With My Friends

  1. Kudos to the Democrats for focusing on two sane and capable leaders. They bring dignity and hope to the dialogue — which, I might add, the “other party” has yet to achieve.

  2. Fred says:

    Hillary is a warhawk plain and simple. It was only after she left the State Dept. that we got the deal with Iran. She was not an impressive Secretary of State, and way too hawkish for a better chapter to begin in our world.

    As for Israel/Palestine, she is a total servant of Israel. She will work for AIPAC and do their bidding. She has gotten tons of money from Israel Firster Haim Saban.

    No question in my mind who to choose. But the establishment wants Hillary. Even though she was trounced in New Hampshire by Sanders, she walked awwy with the same number of delates because of “super delegates who are party hacks or those with lots of $$$. The system is rigged for her. Clearly though, Sanders will have my vote.

  3. Mr. Jenks, I “liked” Jim’s typically stimulating post and intended this week to let it go at that. But your comment drives me to observe that Hillary Clinton, while SECSTATE, cackled “We came, we saw, he died!” anent the Libyan President Qaddafi who was murdered in grotesque fashion and whose country is now a grotesque caricature of a functioning landscape. Is that evidence of HC’s “dignity”?

  4. I can’t imagine ever being motivated to vote for Hillary. I’m sticking with Sanders, the closest thing to our only hope at this point.

  5. Patricia Blair says:

    I think that it is unfortunate for AMERICA that the focus is on a wearing two party system. What is lost is Green Party Candidate,, Dr. Jill Stein’s position on domestic and foreign policy, far superior, clear on the ISRAEL / Palestine issue. She is my choice for President.

  6. rzwarich says:

    I am VERY glad to see the comments here from Robert Stiver. He is an old friend of mine from whom I have not heard in quite some time. We were associated for a numbers of years, and in that time he was without a doubt among a rarefied group of the most passionate and energetic activists for peace and justice that I have ever encountered in my own 45 years as a politically conscious and active person. It’s GREAT to hear your voice again, Bob.

    I could not agree more that HRC’s actions and behavior as Secretary of State were beyond undignified. They were beyond even disgraceful. They were outright monstrous. She played and instrumental role in the destruction of the sovereign nation of Libya, which has brought immeasurable misery to its millions of citizens, and death to thousands.

    Before Libya was graced with her malevolent attentions, it was one of the most prosperous nations in Africa, with ambitious plans to spur prosperity across that troubled continent by establishing a new, gold-backed pan-African currency. After she was done with it, Libya was, and yet remains, a ‘mad max’ type dystopia in which people are in constant fear for their lives, and roaming bands of crazed Radical Islamists roam the countryside and accost anyone they come across, robbing and/or killing with complete impunity.

    The prospect of Libya’s plans to create that new currency was so threatening to the US Power Elite that they decided to overthrow Libya’s government, which they did under the direct supervision of Secretary of State Clinton, leaving behind a ruined nation with no standing institutions of government or authority. It was Clinton who engineered the empowerment of those forces from the apocalypse, the crazed and deadly ideological extremists that did the actual dirty work, (including the ‘wet work’), on the ground, supported by US and allied air power.

    Clinton contracted with these crazed Islamists for the overthrow of this nation, and the brutal murder of its head of state. And as Bob Stiver reports, she laughed like a schoolgirl, clapping her hands in glee, as she reported that “We came. We saw. He died”, (pridefully imitating Julius Caesar’s famously cryptic pronouncement after the Battle of Zela). Anybody can see her disgraceful and disgusting display, celebrating the brutal torture and murder of a sitting head of state, (he was reportedly killed by a large knife used to sodomize him), simply by going to the youtube site and entering “we came, we saw, he died” into the search box.

    Indeed, the fact that good citizen Jenks can find ‘dignity’ in this disgusting human being indicates that he must surely be unaware of her behavior.

    After the instrumental role she played in the destruction of this prosperous nation, she then was completely derelict in her duty to protect her own subordinate employees at the American Embassy in Benghazi. When the SAME forces from the apocalypse that she had released and empowered, the crazed forces of Radical Islamism, attacked the US Embassy, it lacked adequate security forces necessary to protect its personnel. Four employees of the US State Department, who served under Secretary of State Clinton’s command and authority, were brutally tortured and murdered.

    Secretary of State Clinton then “courageously” shirked all responsibility, and still does. She shrugs her shoulders with arrogant, and even angry insouciance, like a petulant teen-ager, and says (to the effect of), “It’s not my fault! How was I supposed to know those crazy Radical Islamists who tortured and murdered Qaddafi for me were going to turn on us?”

    How anybody could find a shred of dignity in this disgusting and incompetent person is beyond me. This is a person who licks her finger and holds it up to the political winds in order to discover her deepest convictions. She doesn’t really know what she thinks about anything until she runs ‘various options’ by a focus group.

    She is a complete creature of the US Power Elite. She is a war monger. She has already sworn complete and unqualified devotion and fealty to Israel, (making us wonder how good citizen Wall could regard her so kindly).

    She is totally devoid of any sense of personal honor or honesty. She will say or do whatever is most expedient, regardless of the truth or the facts.

  7. Robert says:

    Jim, I beg to differ: Sanders has been as clear as he needs to be on foreign policy. He declared that, unlike Hilary, “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.” Nuff said. In case it isn’t, read Ralph Nader’s scathing indictment this week of Hilary’s sinister overseas adventurism: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/15/HILLARY-CLINTON-SUGARCOATING-HER-DISASTROUS-RECORD/

    A view from the outside: We in ‘the free world’ who have no say in who to might pretend to it’s throne are quite happy to leave American domestic problems to Americans. But I’m guessing that most of couldn’t stomach the thought of one of the GOP guys, much less Hilary, being our leader precisely because of her neo-con war-mongering bent. Well said rzwarich, and others.

  8. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    My preference is Bernie, as mentioned in previous comments I made.
    My number one reason is Bernie’s commitment to eliminate the role of Big Money in electing our candidates. If he does nothing else, he will be a hero in the eyes of the vast majority of Americans because he will be a savior of our democracy.
    Hillary Clinton feeds on Big Money, like all other candidates running for President today.
    We witnessed how she suddenly switched from her original fair position on the Palestinian State, as First lady, to one of pandering to Israel, when she first ran for Office in New York.
    However, if the Democrats elect HC, and she runs against any Republican, I will vote for her, of course. It is not because she will be so good, as much as it is because the Republicans will be “Israeli Firsters”.
    All – Yes, ALL – the candidates are pro-Israel, and pro some degree of Israeli occupation. It is only the degree of allegiance to Israel that differentiates one candidate from another.
    Eliminating Big Money buying off candidates is the key for “America Firsters”.

  9. Basim Esmail says:

    I do not trust Hilary. She is totally untrustworthy and totally unreliable.
    She wants to show her husband she is his equal. Hilary has done nothing
    for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. She would not dare push,
    let alone, even nudge Netanyahu.

    She claims only the participants can negotiate a peace when she
    knows the powerful intransigent Israeli government has
    chosen the path of destruction, expansion and settlements.
    She knows exactly what the Israeils are doing and
    has not even mentioned Israelis aggression or apartheid even
    once in any speech. At least Obama lets the world know he dislikes Bibi.
    Hilary can’t even do that.Putting her in office is a guarantee of not more of the same but of a worse outcome.

    I think Bernie Sanders deserves a chance. He is not beholden
    to huge Israeli and Zionist donations. His donations come from
    young liberal people with open minds and average $27 per person.
    If Hilary wins, I will seriously consider Trump. Some even may be is crazy but
    someone with an ego as big as his, will not be afraid to
    stand up to Netanyahu. He stood up to the Pope today at the
    expense of potentially losing 80,000 million Cathooic votes.

    Surprisingly, he has a lot of support against the Pope. While
    the Pope condemned him for wanting to build a wall to
    protect Anerican citizens, Trump used a google map to show
    the entire papal complex surrounded by a huge giant wall.
    Of course, I saw this wall when I visited in 2005.

    I love this pope, but this time he went overboard with hypocracy.
    If the Vatican really cared about the poor as they allege,
    they would begin selling all the materialistic gold contained
    behind those walls. I heard they also have close to one billion
    dollars in cash. It is best not to attack people like Trump
    and question their faith unless you practice what Jesus really
    taught and preached. He never taught anything about the hoarding of gold
    and wealth that I know of. He taught the need to help ur neighbors,
    friends and the needy. Let us see what happens. But I want to be
    on record stating I would never vote for Hilary! NEVER!!!

  10. Robert says:

    Great piece! In one of my favorites movies ” O Brother Where Art Thou”, the character says, ” I’m with you guys!” He said that because he knew that being chained together, the three of them could only survive if they kept their heads and worked together. Just like the nation needs to do now. Who ever wins, one side or the other, needs to build a Team of Rivals as Abraham Lincoln did. That would pull everyone together, and get the country on the right track. Like you I am sticking with all my friends on this one.

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