Neocons Have Flocked to Hillary Clinton. Does This Signal a Cataclysm in American Politics?

hillary-neocons

Photo collage by Salon.com

Much has been made of the swing in political allegiances of neoconservatives in favor of Hillary Clinton.

As a group, Washington’s neocons are generally terrified of Trump’s unpredictability and his flirtation with the alt-right. They also support Clinton’s more assertive foreign policy (not to mention her closer relationship to Israel). Perhaps, too, after eight long years in the wilderness, they’re daydreaming of an appointment or two in a Clinton administration.

This group of previously staunch Republicans, who believe in using American military power to promote democracy, build nations, and secure U.S. interests abroad, have defected in surprising numbers. Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan, the Wall Sctreet Journal’s Bret Stephens, and the Foreign Policy Initiative’s James Kirchick have all endorsed Clinton. Other prominent neocons like The National Review’s William Kristol, the Wall Street Journal’s Max Boot, and SAIS’s Eliot Cohen have rejected Trump but not quite taken the leap to supporting Clinton.

A not particularly large or well-defined group, neoconservatives have attracted a disproportionate amount of attention in this election. For the Trump camp, these Republican defectors merely prove that the elite is out to get their candidate, thus reinforcing his outsider credentials (never mind that Trump initially wooed neocons like Kristol). For the left, the neocons are flocking to support a bird of their feather, at least when it comes to foreign policy, which reflects badly on Clinton. The mainstream media, meanwhile, are attracted to the man-bites-dog aspect of the story (news flash: members of the vast right-wing conspiracy support Clinton!).

As we come to the end of the election campaign, which has been more a clash of personalities than of ideologies, the neocon defections offer a much more interesting story line. As the Republican Party potentially coalesces around a more populist center, the neocons are the canary in the coalmine. Their squawking suggests that the American political scene is about to suffer a cataclysm. What will that mean for U.S. foreign policy?

A History of Defection

The neoconservative movement began within the Democratic Party. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a Democrat from Washington State, carved out a new position in the party with his liberal domestic policies and hardline Cold War stance. He was a strong booster of civil rights and environmental legislation. At the same time, he favored military build-up and a stronger relationship with Israel. He was also dismayed with the Nixon administration’s détente with the Soviet Union.

Prioritizing foreign over domestic policy, Jackson’s former aides Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and Elliott Abrams — along with some fellow travelers like Paul Wolfowitz — eventually shifted their allegiance to the right-wing Republican Ronald Reagan. They formed an important pro-Israel, “peace through strength” nucleus within the new president’s foreign policy team.

At the end of the Reagan era, their commitment to such policies as regime change in the Middle East, confrontation with Russia, and opposition to multilateral institutions like the United Nations brought them into conflict with realists in the George H.W. Bush administration. So, many of them defected once again to support Bill Clinton. Writes Jim Lobe:

A small but not insignificant number of them, repelled by George H.W. Bush’s realpolitik, and more specifically his Middle East policy and pressure on then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to join the Madrid peace conference after the first Gulf War, deserted the party in 1992 and publicly endorsed Bill Clinton. Richard Schifter, Morris Amitay of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Angier Biddle Duke, Rita Freedman of the Social Democrats USA, neocon union leaders John Joyce and Al Shanker, Penn Kemble of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, James Woolsey, Marty Peretz of The New Republic, and Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute all signed a much-noted ad in The New York Times in August 1992 endorsing Clinton’s candidacy. Their hopes of thus being rewarded with top positions in a Clinton administration were crushed.

The flirtation with Clinton’s Democratic Party was short-lived. Woolsey, Schifter, and Kemble received appointments in the Clinton administration, but the neocons in general were unhappy with their limited influence, Clinton’s (albeit inconsistent) multilateralism, and the administration’s reluctance to intervene militarily in Rwanda, Somalia, and Bosnia. Disenchantment turned to anger and then to organizing. In 1997, many of the same people who worked for Scoop Jackson and embraced Ronald Reagan put together the Project for the New American Century in an effort to preserve and expand America’s post-Cold War unilateral power.

A handful of votes in Florida in 2000 and the attacks on September 11 the following year combined to give the neocons a second chance at transforming U.S. foreign policy. Dick Cheney became perhaps the most powerful vice president in modern American history, with Scooter Libby as his national security adviser. Donald Rumsfeld became secretary of defense, with Paul Wolfowitz as his deputy and Feith as head of the policy office. Elliott Abrams joined the National Security Council, and so on. Under their guidance, George W. Bush abandoned all pretense of charting a more modest foreign policy and went on a militarist bender.

The foreign policy disasters of the Bush era should have killed the careers of everyone involved. Unfortunately, there are plenty of think tanks and universities that value access over intelligence (or ethics) — and even the most incompetent and craven administration officials after leaving office retain their contacts (and their arrogance).

Those who worry that the neocons will be rewarded for their third major defection — to Reagan, to Bill Clinton, and now to Hillary Clinton — should probably focus elsewhere. After all, the Democratic nominee this year doesn’t have to go all the way over to the far right for advice on how to construct a more muscular foreign policy. Plenty of mainstream think tanks — from the Center for a New American Security on the center-right to the leftish Center for American Progress — are offering their advice on how to “restore balance” in how the United States relates to the world. Many of these positions — how to push back against Russia, take a harder line against Iran, and ratchet up pressure on Assad in Syria — are not very different from neocon talking points.

But the defections do herald a possible sea change in party alignment. And that will influence the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy.

The Walking Dead

The Republican Party has been hemorrhaging for nearly a decade. The Tea Party dispatched many party centrists — Jim Leach, Richard Lugar — who once could achieve a measure of bipartisanship in Congress. The overwhelming whiteness of the party, even before the ascendance of Trump, made it very difficult to recruit African Americans and Latinos in large numbers. And now Trump has driven away many of the professionals who have served in past Republican administrations, including the small clique of neoconservatives.

What remains is enough to win state and local elections in certain areas of the country. But it’s not enough to win nationally. Going forward, with the further demographic shift away from white voters, this Republican base will get older and smaller. Moreover, on foreign policy, the Trumpistas are leading the party in a nationalist, apocalyptic direction that challenges the party leadership (in emphasis if not in content).

It’s enough to throw dedicated Republicans into despair. Avik Roy, who was an advisor to the presidential campaigns of Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, and Rick Perry, told This American Life:

I think the Republican Party is a lost cause. I don’t think the Republican Party is capable of fixing itself, because the people who are most passionate about voting Republican today are the Trump voters. And what politician is going to want to throw those voters away to attract some unknown coalition of the future?

One of his Republican compatriots, Rob Long, had this to say on the podcast about how anti-Trump survivors who stick with the party will navigate the post-election landscape:

It’ll be like The Walking Dead, right? We’re going to try to come up with bands of people and walk across the country. And let’s not get ourselves killed or eaten and hook up with people we think are not insane or horrible or in some way murderous. 

Coming out of next week’s elections, here’s my guess of what will happen. The Republican Party will continue to be torn apart by three factions: a dwindling number of moderates like Susan Collins (R-ME), right-wing fiscal conservatives like Paul Ryan (R-WI), and burn-the-house-down Trumpsters like Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Foreign policy won’t be much of an issue for the party because it will be shut out of the White House for 12 years running and will focus instead on primarily domestic questions. Perhaps the latter two categories will find a way to repair their breach; perhaps the party will split in two; perhaps Trump supporters will engineer a hostile takeover.

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, may suffer as a result of its success. After all, how can a single party play host to both Bernie Sanders and Robert Kagan? How can the party promote both guns and butter? How can Hillary Clinton preserve Obama’s diplomatic successes — the Iran deal, the Cuba détente, the efforts to contain climate change — and be more assertive militarily? Whatever unity the party managed during the elections will quickly fall apart when it comes to governing.

In one sense, Clinton may well resurrect the neocon legacy by embracing a more or less progressive domestic policy (which would satisfy the Sanderistas) and a more hawkish foreign policy (which would satisfy all the foreign policy mandarins from both parties who supported her candidacy).

At the same time, a new political axis is emerging: internationalists versus insularists, with the former gathering together in the Democratic Party and the latter seeking shelter in a leaky Republican Party. But this categorization conceals the tensions within each project. Internationalists include both fans of the UN and proponents of unilateral U.S. military engagement overseas. Insularists, who have not turned their back on the world quite as thoroughly as isolationists, include both xenophobic nationalists and those who want to spend war dollars at home.

The trick of it for progressives is to somehow steal back the Democratic Party from the aggressive globalists and recapture those Trump voters who are tired of supporting war and wealthy transnational corporations. Or, perhaps in the wake of the Republican Party’s collapse, progressives could create a new party that challenges Clinton and the neocons.

One thing is for certain, however. With a highly unpopular president about to take office and one of the major political parties on life support, the current political moment is highly unstable. Something truly remarkable could emerge. Or voters in 2020 might face something even more monstrous than what has haunted this election cycle.

The post Neocons Have Flocked to Hillary Clinton. Does This Signal a Cataclysm in American Politics? appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer directs Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/UVLg-ZvxgNA/

In Second Debate, Clinton Escalates Her Call for a Military Solution in Syria

In the second presidential debate, Phyllis Bennis told the Real News Network, Trump gave no insight into how he’d proceed in U.S. dealings with Syria beyond vaguely stating that he would “get” ISIS.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand actually escalated what’s been her already highly-militarized set of proposals for the region.

Clinton added to her plan for a so-called no-fly-zone: the assassination of the leader of ISIS and additional arms to the Kurds. Killing the leader of ISIS will only leave the role easily-filled by other ISIS leaders, Bennis said, and when talking of arming the Kurds, Clinton made no mention of how that would impact the U.S.’ relationship with NATO ally Turkey.

As for establishing a no-fly-zone, Bennis said that failing to explain how we’d do so without evoking war with Russia is “thoroughly irresponsible.”

Bennis also challenged the U.S. on insisting that Russia and Iran stop arming the Assad regime, when the U.S. is guilty of supplying weapons to the opposition.

“As long as the U.S. is arming everybody and their brother on the other side, they’ve got no credibility to ask the Russians to stop arming the Syrian regime,” Bennis said.

The same goes for Secretary of State John Kerry calling on nations to be accountable for war crimes. “There should be accountability for war crimes,” Bennis said. “But it’s not going to happen as a result of the one-off political posturing of U.S. diplomats” when the U.S. itself is bombing in Syria and enabling war crimes like the most recent Saudi-attack on a funeral home in Yemen.

Bennis later challenged the U.S. on insisting that Russia and Iran stop arming the Assad regime, when the U.S. is guilty of the same, in that they directly, and through allies, supply weapons to the opposition.

“As long as the U.S. is arming everybody and their brother on the other side, they’ve got no credibility to ask the Russians to stop arming the Syrian regime.”

Listen to the full interview on The Real News Network’s website.

The post In Second Debate, Clinton Escalates Her Call for a Military Solution in Syria appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis is the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/ze8yzWCVJy0/

Hillary Clinton Channels Her Inner Teddy Roosevelt

(Photo: Marc Nozell/Flickr)

(Photo: Marc Nozell/Flickr)

Hillary Clinton’s proposal to strengthen the federal estate tax is the best idea yet to reverse our national drift toward extreme wealth inequality.

Clinton proposes an expansion of the federal estate tax, our nation’s only levy on the transfer of accumulated wealth of multimillionaires and billionaires. The tax falls on fewer than two out of 1,000 estates, yet puts a brake on concentrated wealth, encourages charitable giving, and raises substantial revenue from those most able to pay.

Her plan would generate $ 260 billion over ten years, exclusively from multimillionaires and billionaires, that she plans to use for investments in expanding opportunity, such as reducing college debt, simplifying small business taxes and expanding the child tax credit.

The estate tax, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this month, was viewed at its inception as a way to address the excesses of the first Gilded Age. The impetus to pass a tax on inherited wealth came from rural populists and enlightened industrialists. In his 1889 essay, Wealth, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie observed about that estate tax “of all forms of taxation, this seems the wisest.”

President Theodore Roosevelt advocated for “a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes” that should be “properly safeguarded against evasion” and must increase “rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.” Estate taxes, Roosevelt argued, were required “to preserve a measurable equality of opportunity.”

Clinton’s proposal adopts the Roosevelt principle by including a progressive rate structure — the greater the wealth, the higher the rate.

 

The post Hillary Clinton Channels Her Inner Teddy Roosevelt appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Chuck Collins is the director of the Inequality and the Common Good Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/JB9d-Turod0/

No One is Asking Hillary Clinton What She’d Do In Syria and Iraq

Letting Syria become a free zone for ISIS and sending American ground troops is “off the table,” Hillary Clinton said in a speech criticizing Donald Trump’s foreign policy plans.

“I’d like to know if she’s opposed to the 5,000 troops that are officially, openly in Iraq,” Phyllis Bennis told Democracy Now! or “the hundreds that are officially, openly in Syria.”

The problem with Clinton, Bennis said, is that although her critique of Trump is accurate, she is unclear about her own positions.

Hillary Clinton has said she supports a no-fly zone in Syria. “The first act of a no-fly zone is an act of war to take out the anti-aircraft system” Bennis said. Syria has a very developed, Russian-supplied anti-aircraft system, Bennis explained.

“So is Hillary Clinton saying it’s okay to go to war with Russia? Would she support more ground troops? Would she support a no-fly zone that would immediately be extended to a regime change action as it was in Libya?”  Bennis asked.

No one is pressing her on those questions, she said.

The post No One is Asking Hillary Clinton What She’d Do In Syria and Iraq appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/y10RbTmqrV8/

Clinton Positions Herself to the Right of Trump in Major National Security Speech

On June 2, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a national security speech that was less a foreign policy speech, and more a partisan attack on Donald Trump, IPS’s Phyllis Bennis said in an interview with the Real News Network.

“She talked about all of the crazy stuff that Donald Trump has said. That’s easy to do,” Bennis said. “But her alternatives, her proposals are not working either.”

Clinton mentioned a set of broad ideas for dealing with ISIS, including intensifying air campaigns. Bennis said this is something Clinton has talked about for a long time, and something that President Obama has been doing for a long time, and it hasn’t defeated ISIS or ended the war.

For a campaign that’s running on the value of experience, Bennis said Clinton did not talk about her role in the intervention of Libya, where regime change left the country in absolute chaos and violence.

“She was the Secretary of State, not the Secretary of Defense. As diplomat-in-chief, whether it was about Iraq, or about Libya, her choice was always military,” Bennis said.

Even as she touted her involvement in the nuclear deal with Iran during her speech, Clinton focused on her job as being to get tougher sanctions, Bennis said, keeping her focus on her credibility as a warmonger.

“The problem that poses for people across this country is that the choice between the kind of chaos of Trump’s policy that’s so incredibly dangerous, versus a very clear, very committed militaristic commitment to regime change and U.S. domination in the Hillary Clinton foreign policy is not much of a choice,” Bennis said.

Clinton’s national security speech put her to the right of Trump on foreign policy, and that’s why, Bennis said, it’s important that this speech came out before the California primary.

Although Clinton was positioning herself as if she were already the nominee of the democratic party, “There is still a choice,” Bennis said.

Although Bennis has her own idea for what a Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy should look like, based on the idea of ‘no wars for the billionaire class’, she noted that his campaign has made its interest in engaging with social movements a much more critical part of what it means to run for president in this country.

“As progressives, our movements have not demanded collectively enough  focus on an alternative foreign policy that’s based on diplomacy instead of war, not diplomacy as one weapon of war,” Bennis said.

The post Clinton Positions Herself to the Right of Trump in Major National Security Speech appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/OJpKdaKFqng/

Sanders Vs. Clinton on Palestine-Israel: A Primer with Phyllis Bennis

On Monday morning, democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, also known as AIPAC. She affirmed the U.S.-Israeli strong military alliance and vowed to re-establish sanctions on Iran if provoked. Bernie Sanders, her democratic opponent was also invited to speak at AIPAC, but he declined and he attended various campaign meetings in Utah on Tuesday. But while there, he did deliver a speech on his Middle East policy.

Watch the interview on the Real News Network’s website.

The post Sanders Vs. Clinton on Palestine-Israel: A Primer with Phyllis Bennis appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/l_QAnZEWV9Y/

Can Sanders Distinguish Himself From Clinton on Foreign Policy?

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has distinguished himself from his party rival Hillary Clinton when it comes to domestic economic issues, but when it comes to foreign policy that distinction is a bit more vague. Referring to his “no” vote on the Iraq War, Sanders has tried to sound more moderate on foreign policy, but has he got a full command of the issues at stake, especially when it comes to Syria and ISIS? Sanders has repeatedly called for sending American military equipment, air support and personnel to assist nations like Jordan and Saudi Arabia in fighting ISIS. What are the implications of this kind of policy in the region? To discuss Sanders’ position on the Islamic State is Peter Certo, an editor and writer at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Watch the interview on the Real News Network’s website.

The post Can Sanders Distinguish Himself From Clinton on Foreign Policy? appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Peter Certo is the editor of Foreign Policy in Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/4fGmUXZaR6s/

Sanders, Clinton featured at DFL fundraiser – TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press


TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
Sanders, Clinton featured at DFL fundraiser
TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
“It's a black forum and he used a canned speech,” said Mica Grimm, a founder of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis. But Kamaal Mohamed said: “It was beautiful. He has hit a lot of points we wanted to hear. Equal rights to all. … “She has, I think, more

and more »

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=ca&usg=AFQjCNGYS3fuQPUPVhwf6zHaK6z1Aum2PQ&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52779046934856&ei=Bpy_VsjHCsPqwQHZxIHoDA&url=http://www.twincities.com/2016/02/12/sanders-clinton-featured-at-dfl-fundraiser/

Voters trust Clinton most on terrorism. Here’s why they shouldn’t.

Does Hillary Clinton really have the best strategy to defeat ISIS? Phyllis Bennis joins Howard Dean and EJ Dionne on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell to make the case against a no-fly zone in Syria. Watch below:

The post Voters trust Clinton most on terrorism. Here’s why they shouldn’t. appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. 

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/zYc6HbDwAcs/

Top Frames: Hillary Clinton campaigns in Nevada, 13 died in Karachi landslide – The Indian Express

Top Frames: Hillary Clinton campaigns in Nevada, 13 died in Karachi landslide
The Indian Express
A child looks out from a window of a bus upon arriving by a ferry from the Greek island of Lesbos at the Athens' port of Piraeus Wednesday, October 14. The international Organization for Migration said more than 593,000 people have crossed this year

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNGkXq81kCcGDg2YYA0Xvm_2ulNLcw&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=OwcsVvC5JuTlwAGT1r64BA&url=http://indianexpress.com/photos/picture-gallery-others/top-frames-hillary-clinton-campaigns-in-nevada-13-died-in-karachi-landslide/