Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hillary and the Arrow of Time

I’ve written about the arrow of time on several occasions. This rule of physics says that time never goes backward, and it has crucial implications for politics, as I show in my book A Taoist Politics.
The February 19, 2007 blog in which I foresaw Obama’s eventual victory, was titled Obama’s Breath of Fresh Air, Hillary’s Blast from the Past and Putin’s Credo. Astonishingly, the entire title still stands: American foreign policy is even more benighted than it was eight years ago, especially with respect to Russia.  On the domestic side, we did have Occupy, which according to Micah White, in part led to Black Lives Matter.  As White stresses in his new book The End of Protest, what makes the latest chapter in the black struggle qualitatively different is that it has forged links with liberation movements around the world. 
The downward spiral of the US accelerated after the 2008 economic crisis, causing the Russian president to draw ironic attention to our pretense of ’exceptionalism’. This year’s irony is Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’: When you are at the bottom, you can only go up.
As for Hillary, as part of her macho commander-in-chief image, she claims that America never ceased being great, seeing her time as First Lady as a prelude to sitting at the Oval Office desk in an effort to reverse the arrow of time.
  For the brash builder, the sky’s the limit. But outsmarting New York mayors and building codes is not the same thing as reversing climate change, or ending Islamic aggression. Trump implies that we can go back to a former greatness, when the only realistic thing we can hope for is to minimize disaster as we go irreversibly forward. 
When Donald brags about redoing Trump Towers on the Rio Grande, one is reminded of a stubborn four year-old. But the saddest thing is to see Hillary trying to outmacho him. As for her belief that today’s young women look up to those of us who instigated women’s lib, they rightly see us as grandmothers who don’t understand smart phones. Hillary plainly doesn’t realize that the current generation has taken our victories and run with them to a place we could not have imagined.
Many reluctant Hillary supporters believe she has more foreign policy credentials than even a US president needs.  But what about the way she is perceived by fellow leaders?
As reported by Adam Taylor in The Washington Post in June, 2014, opinions of world leaders expressed in her book Hard Choices, would not seem likely to elicit positive opinions of her in return.  Here are some of Adam’s quotes:

On Vladimir Putin: “While she stops shorting of comparing him to Adolf Hitler, she has some criticism. "He was disciplined and fit, a practitioner of judo, and he inspired hope and confidence among Russians still reeling from so much political change and economic adversity,"  Clinton says, before adding. "But he also proved over time to be thin-skinned and autocratic, resenting criticism and eventually cracking down on dissent and debate, including a free press and NGOs.” 

Had she been more attuned to Russian history, she could have pointed out that Putin succeeded a long series of leaders with one foot in the grave - and also perhaps that he was determined to put an end to the rape of the country’s mineral heritage.

“The few moments of detente between the two come when Clinton attempts to move outside of geopolitics, asking Putin about Siberian tigers and environmentalism. ‘He launched into an animated discourse in English on the fate of the tigers in the east, polar bears in the north, and other endangered species,’ she observes,” clearly missing a chance to note what should have been a convergence of views.  
“At one point Putin tells about his father saving his mother from certain death during the brutal Siege of Leningrad. … Clinton's tone suggests that perhaps she doesn't buy it.” 

Failure to show that you are aware of the price Russians paid in ‘The Great Patriotic War’, which we could  not have won without them, not to to mention lacking respect for the health of an opponents’ parents, would seem to rule out finding common ground with Russia.

Clinton is more positive when talking about Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and speaks at length about Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who she says was ‘perpetually tanned and well-tailored, spoke fluent English, had a taste for fine whiskey and the poetry of Pushkin.” 

Either she doesn’t know what foreign policies Lavrov has been advancing for the last dozen years, or she doesn’t think it’s worth commenting on them to future voters.

“David Cameron: Despite the ‘special relationship,’ the British prime minister, like his predecessor, Gordon Brown, is described in pleasant though unexciting and brief terms…..

Hugo Chavez: Clinton manages to both insult and dismiss the late Venezuelan leader with just a half-sentence: ‘A self-aggrandizing dictator who was more of an aggravation than a real threat, except to his own citizens.’”

After disposing of our ‘closest ally’ and one of the many thorns in our side in equally dismissive terms, Hillary turns to Recep Tayyip Erdogan: 

“Erdogan is an ‘ambitious, forceful, devout and effective politician,’ Clinton says, before going on to be more critical of the Turkish prime minister. ‘Despite positive developments under Erdogan, there was growing cause for concern, even alarm, about his government's treatment of political opponents and jour-nalists.’”  Referring to Erdogan's attempt to broker a new Iran deal, Hillary described him as a man who thought he was "actually able to bend history" to his will, but producing only ‘lackluster’ or even ‘counterproductive’ results.”  

How will she deal with a Turkish president whose belligerence toward the Kurds living under his rule embarrasses our NATO allies, not to mention his vicious crackdown on the press?

Anyone who truly believes that Hillary would have a leg up with foreign leaders when compared to Bernie is not living in the real world.  Our European allies have had alternating left and right regimes for decades, and they will remember the impeachment proceedings against her husband as well as our reckless destruction of Libya, Syria, and Iraq, whose leaders are part of the Arab left, and whose refugees are crowding their shores in a seemingly unstoppable flow.

As for the rest of the world, it’s difficult to think of any area where a US President who’s husband nearly killed welfare for single moms, or whose predecessor kills his own citizens by drone without trial, would be greeted with genuine respect and warmth.  

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, will be derided for his white hair and his Brooklyn accent, (Hispanics call him ‘el Viejito’), but his voting record as an independent and his uninterrupted commitment to socialist principles, will make him a breath of fresh air even for the social-democratic right across the world, a situation most have all but given up on.

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