Bashing Obama To Make Way for Hillary

Three years ago, during the height of the Occupy movement, I was ejected from a Congressional hearing for allegedly “assaulting” Leon Panetta, then Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA. He was testifying to the House Armed Services Committee about “lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade.” I jumped out of my audience seat to tell him that young people were paying the price of those “lessons,” and we were sick of the government funding war instead of education. The baseless assault charges against me were ultimately dropped.

A few years and trillions of dollars later, I found myself sitting in front of Leon Panetta once again, this time for his book talk at George Washington University, where he was gunning for more war. Just when we thought the US was finally leaving Iraq alone, the world was hit with a paranoid media frenzy: showcasing ISIS beheadings ad infinitum, hysterical Congresspeople claiming that they were “coming for us all,” paving the way to more war, war, war – no questions from the public, no Congressional debate. Bombs started falling on Iraq and Syria, innocents are dying, ISIL is gaining traction, yet the White House is declaring the whole operation so far “successful.”

Don’t be fooled: this operation has indeed been a success for some. The weapons-making company Raytheon just signed a $251 million Pentagon contract to produce the Tomahawk missiles the US is dropping on Iraq and Syria. Some media pundits speculate US involvement for a few months, some a few years, but Panetta said we better count on closer to 30 years.

Despite Panetta’s reputation for being a relatively “liberal” Democrat, his legacy is now associated with the expansion of President Obama’s killer drone program – covertly bombing countries that the US wasn’t, and still isn’t, at war with, killing countless civilians with total impunity.

Without acknowledging America’s role in creating ISIL, or how counterproductive and economically draining over a decade of war has been, Panetta has generated national attention recently for bashing President Obama for not going hard enough on ISIL. In his new book Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, and during an interview with Susan Page of USA Today timed to coincide with the release of his book, Panetta revealed his true feelings: that President Obama is deficient of leadership skills, indecisive, and weak when it comes to national defense and militarism.

Apparently this revelation, which Dana Milbank of the Washington Post called a “stunning disloyalty,” comes as no surprise since Panetta has been jumping the gun to criticize President Obama since his time as Secretary of Defense. While in office, Panetta wanted to leave some residual troops in Iraq after the withdrawal in 2011, a deal he says could have been negotiated with more effort. He also wanted to arm the Syrian rebels as early as 2012, and frowned upon Obama’s “failure to act” after seeking congressional authorization to bomb Assad in Syria in 2013.

So what does Panetta have to gain from attacking President Obama, a fellow Democrat, with so much time left until the next Presidential election? Some media outlets think it’s no coincidence that he’s on a book tour at the same time as Hillary Clinton, touting the same hawkish foreign policies that will appeal to independent-leaning Republicans in 2016. As one right-wing outlet put it, “he’s flying the same exact anti-Obama flag that the hawkish Clinton wing of the party has been flying all year trying to position themselves for the next stage in their own political careers by stepping on President Obama’s neck.”

Like Panetta, Clinton has made claims that the blame for ISIS’ sudden power grab lands squarely on Obama’s failure to intervene in the Syrian civil war. In an interview with the Atlantic, Clinton said America must develop an “overarching” strategy to confront the growing threat of ISIS, and she went so far as to equate this struggle to the one the US waged against Soviet-led communism. It seems like these now-former Washington insiders are ganging up on the President to pave the way for a dangerous future foreign policy framework.

On October 14, Panetta spoke at an event at George Washington University about his new book. CODEPINK teamed up with the George Washington Progressive Student Alliance to host a protest outside of the event. We passed out hundreds of fliers about the killer drone program under Panetta, and hollered over the megaphone about war criminals not being welcome on campus.

I made my way into the event and took a seat in the front row. The university president fawned over Panetta, who entered the room to a standing ovation.

Panetta bemoaned minuscule cuts to the massively bloated defense budget, saying that it is harmful to our national security. When he mentioned the sequester in that context, I couldn’t stay in my seat any longer. “We need more cuts to the Pentagon’s budget!” I said loudly, trying to move toward the stage so he would be able to hear me. “We don’t want money for war spending, we need that money here at home,” I continued. “Stop pushing the President to go deeper into war. Young people are sick of it, and the opinions of war criminals like yourself are not welcome here!” As I was talking, a large security guard plucked me up by my jacket and quickly yanked me out of the room.

Three years after my first disruption of Panetta, more than ever I stand by my words. I would do it again, and honestly, I probably will do it again. Whether it’s Leon Panetta, or Hillary Clinton. I’m horrified at the prospect of Clinton being the more “liberal” Presidential choice in 2016. If President Obama campaigned for hope and change, but ultimately enshrined some of Bush’s most egregious foreign policies, what are we in store for next from explicitly pro-war candidates?

Many young people are sick of these warmongers running the United States (and I know plenty of older folks who are too!). Over the summer of 2014, the youth wing of CODEPINK launched a Youth Manifesto to declare that there is No Future in War. Using that as a resource, we’ve launched a youth outreach campaign to help support student groups organize and mobilize. In a very short amount of time we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from students who are sick of being robbed of their futures. It’s time for the old, worn out politicians, who have dragged us into more war just to get elected and fatten their wallets, to step aside. We deserve better than the broken two-party system that routinely forces us to choose the “lesser of two evils.”

I, for one, am certainly not “ready for Hillary.”

Alli McCracken is the National Coordinator for the peace group CODEPINK, based in Washington DC. She is passionate about intersectional politics and she is fed up with neoliberal bullshit. Get involved with CODEPINK and follow her on twitter: @AlliMcCrack.

20 thoughts on “Bashing Obama To Make Way for Hillary”

  1. Alli, count me in as one of the older folks who is "sick of these warmongers running the US." Even at the height of the Vietnam War (my generation's war) things were more hopeful. 1968 is known as one of the watershed years in US history, (those unfamiliar should look up all that happened), but even then things seemed more hopeful. We had a radicalized youth who were "taking it to the streets" and a much freer press than today. Now everything is much more corporate controlled and any domestic protests against US war policy are seldom reported by the MSM.

    In 1968 at least we had Eugene McCarthy to challenge the war party. Now we have super hawks like Panetta promising us a 30 years war. Why not go for 100? We need a strong anti-war democrat to rise up and challenge Hillary, not some phony like Obama. Where is that person? I'm not "ready for Hillary" either. I wish you and your movement all the best.

  2. The warmongers can only be stopped if we see a protest movement as robust as that of the 60's.

    1. There was a draft in the 60's. People sadly seem to only respond when it is their ass on the line.

  3. The Amerikan government is a government of the criminals, by the criminals and for the criminals and is the greatest criminal enterprise the world has ever known.

    And the Amerikan sheeple would have it no other way.

  4. Good for Code Pink and good for those of us both young and old who are waking up again little by little to reality. It just hit me today finally why WAR and IMPERIALISM is bad for almost Everyone involved: Because the societies of the Oppressed and Oppressors alike are destroyed as a result. Witness Israel since 1967, certainly, and the US vs USAR so-called “Cold War” for instance when M.A.D. mutual assured destruction) was the “norm”. It’s just plain madness. I believe today if we as a movement can both educate and persuade the masses of Independents out there, we can defeat the Hillary Clinton of the world.

  5. We been warning people for Hillary Clinton for a long time, it is not the question of Hillary Clinton or Obama, it is question of the system ruling the U.S. political and economic system. Otherwise, people as Obama or Hillary Clinton or Geirge W. Bush and others can be produced by either side in just matter of time in what politics suits to fool people more, who is the best lier and who can deliver what vulture capitalism wants. Libya, Ukraine,Syria, ISIS are all connected, the austerity in Libya start by Hillary Clinton/Obama, the syrian and ISIS was yet another creation by those who governs the government, like cia, the other government within the U.S. government and governments within that governments and etc. So, it is the rotten system and not one person, but rather the entire system needs to be corrected. Hence, those whom are charge, or governs the other government are in business to militarizing the system, to start with take a good look at police force, how, by who and why they are militarizing a force that it's primary social function is to save and protect.

  6. We need an antiwar president. It can be a Democrat, Republican or third party candidate or an independent candidate. We need someone who says what they mean. Ehud Barack Obama didn't say what he meant. He said what Hillbilly Rodham Clinton and George Warmonger Bush meant. There was no hope & change, only nope & no change. There was no change you can believe in, only more of the sam you can believe in after Ehud Barack Obama was elected and re-elected.

  7. Fact is, Hillary is the least warmongering that the huge majority of the American people would accept. Evidence: They support Israel and it's apartheid regime against the Palestinian people because they have bought into the truly lame argument that Israel has a right to defend itself, blah, blah, blah. Change, for that reason, is not even close.

    The whole 'might makes right' narrative needs to change but that won't happen until the next terrorist revenge attack which could have a nuclear element and could leave the US with no identifiable victim to use the 'might' against. Then maybe the American people will take a different approach to the warmongering and look for a pres candidate that is different. Or? It would just steel their commitment to the fight against terrorism and nothing much will change. More likely the latter.

    So keep up the good work, you may have already built your support to well over a tenth of 1% of the American hearts and minds!!

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  9. She did not show up at work on time, she was at the dean's workplace, crying and studying a paper of one student, who in contrast life in his family with the life of his good friend's. They organize funds, create associations, and get their pressure into the governmental branches and into international organizations.

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