At the March 9 Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton had this to say about competitor Bernie Sanders’s favorable comments on Castro’s Cuba and the Sandinista regime in the ’80s: “if the values are that you oppress people, you disappear people, imprison people or even kill people for expressing their opinions…, that is not the kind of revolution of values that I ever want to see anywhere.” This, coming from a former Secretary of State who backed a right-wing coup in Honduras and proudly name-drops Henry Kissinger – Henry Kissinger! – as a close friend and mentor, is the kind of thing the Onion can’t compete with.
If Kissinger was known for anything in his years as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, it was installing dictators who oppressed, disappeared and imprisoned people. He oversaw a wave of coups that swept South America in the late ’60s and ’70s, installing right-wing military regimes that tortured, murdered or disappeared dissidents by the thousands, and where a common fate for labor and peasant activists was to be found in a ditch with their faces hacked off. Under Kissinger the U.S. actively supported Operation Condor – the program by which these South American dictators used torture and murder to suppress opposition – with military aid and technical assistance. He gave the green light to Indonesia’s genocidal invasion of East Timor.
Clinton has a long history of close personal friendship with this monster, and indeed touts herself as something of a protégé. According to both Hillary and Bill, Kissinger praised her for running the State Department better than anybody in decades. And well might he praise her, because she’s followed in his footsteps in many ways. As Secretary of State, she oversaw the sale of millions of dollars worth of arms to despotic regimes that oppressed, disappeared and imprisoned people for expressing their opinions – many of which regimes were also large donors to the Clinton Foundation. And while we’re on the subject of people being murdered and disappeared, how about Berta Caceres – an activist murdered by the right-wing Honduran regime whose seizure of power Clinton backed in 2009?
As senator, Clinton voted to authorize George Bush’s criminal war of aggression on Iraq, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths since 2003. She says now it was “a mistake.” It was a mistake all right. She mistakenly believed the vote would make her more viable as a future presidential candidate. She mistakenly predicted the way the political winds would be blowing when she decided to run for president.
And don’t forget Clinton’s support for the Obama administration’s indiscriminate use of drones for extrajudicial killing. Many of the victims were civilians, and hundreds of them were actually children.
If you add it all up, Hillary Clinton still isn’t quite the war criminal her old friend and mentor Henry Kissinger is. Those are some big, bloody shoes to fill. But if she’s elected she’ll grow into them.