October 20, 2000


If the Kosovo war, the bombing of the USS Cole, and the growing hatred of the US around the world is not enough to give American conservatives second thoughts about our policy of global intervention, then surely Hillary Rodham Clinton's recent attack on "isolationism" ought to clinch the case for the America Firsters. The US, said Hillary in a speech given at the Manhattan headquarters of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, must "avoid isolationism" and follow a doctrine of "international engagement." What does this mean? The Hill, as the New York Post likes to call her, did not get very specific: instead, she sternly addressed the (presumably) Republican opponents of global meddling:

"To those who believe we should become involved only if it is easy to do, I think we have to say that America has never and should not ever shy away from the hard path if it is the right one. I believe America needs a renewed internationalism, not an old isolationism."


Old is bad, of course, and new is good. Having abandoned (indeed, reversed) their onetime antiwar stance, today's liberals have at least retained their loyalty to the newfangled. But, hey, wait a minute: what's so "new" about internationalism, anyway? The American people have been handed this line since 1914, for god'ssakes, ever since Woodrow Wilson dragged us into a European war that soon led to another. Heck, the Roosevelts, both Teddy and Franklin, derided non-interventionists as cowards, sissies, traitors, and worse – and the same line of guff was handed out during the cold war, this time by conservatives. In the post-cold war era we are hearing it from the left again, straight from the pursed lips of the First Lady Herself. In her most extensive treatment of foreign policy issues to date, Hillary Rodham greeted her fellow warmongers at the CFR by thanking the Council "for what you have done and stood for over the last century. To challenge the forces of isolationism and champion internationalism, reflecting both in our enduring values and our strategic interest." In short, there's nobody here but us interventionists, so let's get down to brass tacks.


God, how ungrammatical and deadly dull a speech it was! Filled with malapropisms – "But these are albeit a necessary, but not sufficient understanding of the world in which we live and lead" – the speech was the verbal equivalent of a startled squid secreting a protective cloud of murk. The murk, however, was lit up with strings of bright code words and catch-phrases: "This new internationalism must be shaped, of course, to meet new challenges," and "Second, new challenges require new thinking about national interest and security." But of course. Our "core values" determine that we must "stand by Israel" during the current Middle East crisis. Ad infinitum, ad nauseum. The effect was to give Hillary's talk a hectoring and sloganeering style, as if it had been written in some Orwellian Newspeak of her own invention, an abbreviated staccato language known only to internationalists.


Why is it that us isolationists always have the best orators? One thinks of Senator William C. Borah ("the Lion of Idaho"), William Jennings Bryan, and Patrick J. Buchanan. The other side hasn't had a star performer since Franklin Delano Roosevelt went on to his just reward: one thinks of the pipsqueakish Harry Truman (a terrible speaker), the tin-mannish Al Gore, and, worst of all, the grim harridan Hillary Rodham Clinton. But the interventionists rarely address the people directly, and so they don't have to worry so much about the niceties of style: just as long as politicians like Hillary get their message across to the people who really matter – don't worry, guys, I'm with you all the way.


The Council on Foreign Relations is, of course, the organizational incarnation of the foreign policy establishment, a bipartisan alliance of big business, big government, and bigtime academia that traces its roots back those well-born Anglophiles and New York banking circles so eager to get us into World War I. Sizing up her audience, like any New York City ward-healer, Hillary told them what she thought they wanted to hear: she attacked the "refrain" that "that we should intervene with force only" in the cases of "wars that we surely can win, preferably by overwhelming force in a relatively short period of time." Clearly presenting herself as the Joan of Arc of a newly militant internationalism, she pronounced anathema on those evil "isolationists" and scolded them for their lack of her own terrible righteousness:

"To those who believe we should become involved only if it is easy to do, I think we have to say: America has never and should not ever shy away from the hard task if it is the right one. Just because we are living in a new and uncertain world, it does not mean we cannot continue to exercise our leadership."


While this received hearty applause from the mandarins in attendance, the New York Post reports that

"Not everyone in the audience was thrilled with her speech. One man said her doctrine amounted to a 'new imperialism' and asked her if she believed in President Kennedy's vow at his 1961 inaugural to "pay any price, bear any burden" in helping other countries. Clinton replied: 'I do not believe we should pay any price or bear any burden. That is an extreme statement that I certainly could not ascribe to. I think we should pay appropriate price for appropriate return in advancing our interests.'"

It may come as a surprise to her fellow Democrats to learn that John F. Kennedy was an extremist, but then this startling revelation didn't seem to bother members of the Kennedy clan who later joined her on the campaign trail.


"An appropriate price for appropriate return" – a curiously empty and soul-less formulation, a cold phrase that may one day come back to haunt her, especially if she fulfills her long-rumored presidential ambitions. How many American lives is, say, Israel worth? What about Kosovo? How is this amoral calculus to be calculated? By what standard are we to judge when a "return" on our investment in lives and treasure is "appropriate"? Just who is getting this "return," anyhow – and what form does it take? So many questions, and so few answers. Does she mean campaign contributions – or just the intangible psychic reward of watching our "core values" – as she puts it – "spread all around the world" like marmalade oozing over a marble?


Like the ancient Sibyl who presided over the Delphic Oracle, Hillary often speaks in riddles and her language is meant to obscure rather than illuminate her ultimate goals. But of one thing we can be sure: this Amazon has a warlike agenda, and she has to be stopped – yes, even at the price of voting for the prepubescent Rick Lazio.


She may be evil, but Hillary is no fool. She knows that the constituency for our foreign policy of global intervention is narrow. The First Lady bemoans the lack of support for overseas "engagement" – she never uses the word "war," of course, although her husband started more than any President in modern history – and she scolds the business elite for not being internationalist enough:

"If we are serious about combating any of our long term global challenges then would have to create a broader, deeper, stronger constituency for engagement. I think one of our greatest threats to an international leadership is not just opposition to those who probably don't have passports, but apathy of those who do. And this is from polling data and research information from the 1960s. And it was striking to me how business leaders understood clearly the need for a bipartisan foreign policy and a very strong presence in support of American leadership. That has certainly changed over the last decade. That's where people's eyes often glaze over when we are talking about foreign policy issues we clearly need to bring home the stakes in these issues put human faces on them but we need leadership in the private sector and the public sector to do that."


Hillary is right to be worried about the popularity of her husband's foreign adventures: support for the Clintonian "humanitarian" version of global interventionism is narrow, shallow, and weakening among the very classes it is meant to benefit: the elites in business and academia, who, in the past, have provided a key base of support for our bipartisan policy of global meddling. Business wants to know why we have to export our wealth to Eastern Europe and the third world, and redistribute US tax dollars in the name of a new Marshall Plan. This is what Hillary is touting, along with Al Gore, but the Marshall Plan was specific to the time and place in which it occurred. Postwar Europe was in ruins, and, while critics maintained that the only path to European recovery was in freeing up markets, and that the plan amounted to a windfall subsidy for US exporters, at least a superficially plausible case was made for massive US aid in the wake of a devastating world war. But what is the justification this time? There has been no devastating war in Europe, except the one started by her husband against the people of a sovereign state who had never attacked us – and who were subjected to devastating economic sanctions, up until very recently. If she is talking about paying reparations to the people of Yugoslavia for the effects of the barbaric bombing and the brutal sanctions, then yes, I'm all for it – but what do we need a "Marshall Plan" for a post-cold war Europe in which the Soviet bloc imploded without a shot being fired?


That is why peoples' eyes glaze over when the old-fashioned rhetoric of interventionism is rolled out once more, and Uncle Sam assumes his aspect as the Bulwark of the West, the Defender of Global Peace, the Great Humanitarian Interventionist. They listen politely, but aren't fooled. They know we cannot save the "problem" peoples of the world, not from their own Byzantine history, and surely not from themselves. Those Arab boys will be heaving rocks at Israeli occupiers unto eternity, or however long the occupiers decide to stay, whichever comes first. The Kosovars will always hate the Serbs, and vice-versa, inter-tribal warfare will wrack Africa far into the foreseeable future, and all plans to suburbanize Colombia will come to naught. Furthermore, there is nothing Hillary Rodham Clinton – and all the gathered might of the United States armed forces – can do about it. But oh, the misery they will cause in the process of proving themselves wrong: the trouble and the bloodshed, the body-bags – and the mourners, who will ask: What did they die for?


It is no secret that Hillary Rodham wants to be President: in playing with her Ouija board, communing (as she often does, according to her own account) with Eleanor Roosevelt, one can only imagine the conversation:

" Eleanor, why didn't you run for President?"

"I didn't have to, my dear. . . ."


But Hillary is not one to stay at home baking cookies, nor is she content to play the power behind the throne. Remember, it was she who really bullied her hapless husband into ordering the bombing of Yugoslavia: she called him up and argued that the Serbs were engaged in "genocide" on the scale of the Holocaust – and reportedly threatened him with some pretty dire but unspecified consequences if the air raid sirens weren't wailing over Belgrade and soon. What she clearly wants, most of all, is not to have to get on the horn with anybody but the Joint Chiefs of Staff – and then only long enough to give the order to attack. . . .


As a member of the US Senate, representing the key state of New York, she will be within striking range of reaching her goal. If and when she reaches it, God help us all. The rigid righteousness of this woman, combined with the armed might of the US, would constitute a lethal and immediate threat to all the world's peoples. For no one would be safe from her "humanitarian" ministrations, from bombing to outright invasion, from Inner Ruthenia to Outer Mongolia. It is scary, this Halloween season, to ponder the ominous prospect of President Hillary Rodham Clinton, but it is a possibility that cannot be discounted. If Gore fails, who will face Bush in 2004? Isn't it time for a woman President: and not just any woman, but Hillary the amazonian War Goddess, Pallas Athena in full armor and wielding a sword?


She must be stopped. In pursuit of that end we must be willing to pay any price, bear any burden – yes, we must even be willing to vote for Lazio, whose foreign policy positions are for the most part either incoherent or indefensible – to make sure this amazon never leaves her tent and ventures forth on the field of battle. The peace of the whole world depends on it.

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“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.


Past Columns

Hilary, the War Goddess

Vidal's Valediction: The Golden Age

Norman's Narcissim: Podhoretz in Love

The Middle East: War Without End

Classic Raimondo: Isolationism for Beginners

Notes on the Serbian Revolution and Other Matters

Revolt of the Little Guys

The Clinton-
Gore-Milosevic Connection

Szamuely's Folly: Sympathy for the Devil

Slobo's Gambit: Will It Work?

Adventures in Cyber-Politics, Revisted

Curtains for Milosevic

Dubya's Kosovo Deception

The Return of Pat Buchanan


The Vindication of Wen Ho Lee

Against the EU: Danes Resist Assimilation

UN Millennium Summit: Globalist Dream is Your Worst Nightmare

Iraq and the US – Our Fantasy Island Foreign Policy

Classic Raimondo: Allied Vultures Pick at Iraq's Bones

Colombia – The Deja Vu War

Passage to Cargagena: An Inauspicious Visit

Invasion of the Party-Snatchers

Blowback: Read This Book!

Bush on Kosovo – Turning on a Dime

The Kosovo Fraud: Will They Ever Admit It?

The Outing of Ralph Nader, and Other Atrocities

Why Kosovo? Follow the Money!

Additional Justin Raimondo Archives

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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