Thursday, October 12, 2006


The Whisper in Her Ear

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton put forth her positions on Iraq today in the New York Daily News.

No obvious moon-battery here, and reasonable sounding. She’s made some good points, she’s someone to at least hear out, doesn’t it sound?

Forgive me for a certain skepticism about how genuine are Sen. Clinton’s convictions about the threats to National Security, how she would lead as Commander in Chief, how she would direct Iraq policy differently than the Bush Administration.

More importantly, how would she make judgments between the eternally opposed perspectives of the CIA, the State Department, and the Pentagon? Does she even recognize that these three spheres are in covert (and often overt) battle with each other? Is she already a party to the internecine warfare?

One clue is here prescription, described as “Step 2: Diplomacy:”

The second thing that needs to happen is an international public gathering of the parties in the region. Right now, we have sort of private conversations with all these different groups, with the exception of Iran and Syria. So we talk to the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Jordanians, the Turks — but we're not bringing them to any kind of resolution about what they will publicly do and get them on record in a way that we can then bank on.

So, there is no understanding. The Turks are massing troops because they're scared to death about the Kurds and the infiltration. We know what the Iranians are doing. The other Sunni countries are playing their double game. And we're basically sort of watching it.

Our failure to have even backdoor talks with Iran and Syria with respect to Iraq and everything else in the region is, I think, another in a long line of mistakes on the part of the Bush administration.

Here we go again. All we need is an “international public gathering of the parties in the region.” Kind of sounds like a UN solution, doesn’t it? Sen. Clinton maintains that the reason all of our various private and public conversations with all these interested parties (excepting our sworn enemies of course), is one of a failure in “bringing them to any kind of resolution.”

Has the Junior Senator not had a chance to get briefed up on the UN and other natter-ma-bob organizations? Can she really be that naïve?

The problem is with her premise, which fails on multiple counts. Nations conduct international diplomacy as a helpful but largely irrelevant backdrop for whatever practical steps they take behind the scenes. Nations lie, cheat, misrepresent, and try to manipulate foreign and domestic public opinion. Communist Dictatorships and other autocratic and fascists regimes, do it at orders of magnitude more.

The Senator Clinton, in just the next breath suggests that, despite our neglect in opening private conversation with them, “We know what the Iranians are doing.” Senator, might you go ahead and state what that is? I know I know, but I sure would like to believe you do. I don’t, because I know by not saying, you don’t really believe whatever you’d say, and whatever you’d have to say publicly, you wouldn’t agree with at all.

Backdoor talks with Iran and Syria? Unless that backdoor talk runs along the lines of, “this shotgun is loaded and the next time you step out of your yard into mine, you get both barrels,” dear Lord, I’m not interested. This sounds an awful lot like John Kerry’s “I’ve talked to a lot of foreign leaders” type of foolishness.

As to her first or third steps, they’re unserious and distort the realities on the ground in Iraq. Further, they contradict Sen. Clinton’s other arguments. In this, she echoes the common errors of previous Democratic Presidential Candidate Kerry, proving herself just as inconsistent. Not surprising, given her military experience and background closely mirrors his.

She states that the US must show they did not invade Iraq for oil by dictating to a sovereign Iraqi Government how they must apportion oil wealth to satisfy the good Senator. Kind of flies in the face of portraying the lawfully elected government of Iraq as independent and sovereign, wouldn’t it?

She also slanders the many very brave and resolute Iraqi Army officers and soldiers, 350,000 by her own assessment, as avoiding the difficult work of building an Army and protecting their new freedoms:

Because they are basically able to just allow us to take the brunt of the impact.

There are certain groups of the Iraqis that will fight, but the vast majority of the 350,000 are not prepared to stand up and fight for Iraq.

That must be news to the many thousands of Iraqis (but not 650,000) who have died thus far for their country and the preservation of their new democracy. It contradicts, of course, what US military leaders and advisors, with a few opportunistic exceptions, are saying about the new Iraqi Security Forces.

All that said: If these arguments came from any lesser figure politically than the ambitious Junior Senator from New York (and former First Lady to another dominant political figure), I’d say she was doing fine.

But this particular one is not some common, ordinary Joe or Jill Senator. She’s an intelligent, smart, ambitious woman. She has a very specific ambition, one that mandates she establish a kind of permanent standing, as a reluctantly pro-War, middle of the road, Security minded Democrat.

Unbelievably, I find myself recalling Old Man Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life:

Now, if this young man of twenty-eight was a common, ordinary yokel, I'd say he was doing fine. But George Bailey is not a common, ordinary yokel. He's an intelligent, smart, ambitious young man — who hates his job – who hates the Building and Loan almost as much as I do. A young man who's been dying to get out on his own ever since he was born. A young man... the smartest one of the crowd, mind you, a young man who has to sit by and watch his friends go places, because he's trapped.

Sen. Clinton’s public stances on Iraq, Iran, and North Korea reflect the necessity of her political position. It’s the only way she wins what she wants. She has to hate all this military and geopolitical stuff, taking up the forefront of her campaign, when what she really wants to talk about are all those other “It Takes a Village” priorities.

I suppose it’s a crowning irony to suggest that It’s a Wonderful Life, one of Frank Capra’s greatest films, could shed any light to that complicated personality that is Sen. Hillary Clinton. The comparison is awkward, the details incomplete, and we haven’t yet seen the end of the story.

But let me suggest, Sen. Clinton has been cooped up playing a role necessitated by what she’s inherited. She does hate this old Savings and Loan, almost as much as our enemies, for the compromises and sacrifices she’s had to accept to survive, and persevere.

The rest of the crowd, all the little and anonymous loan recipients, sold out to Potter, taking 50 cents on the dollar. But still, she has to hold out against the whisper in her ear, that says, “Sell now! While you can still get something out of it!”

Because to frame herself as tough on defense, and strong on National Security, she needs that image more than she needs the more immediate gain she’d get from joining her political friends.

She’s a kind of George Bailey, I’ suggest, but one I think who listened to the whispering voice of Mr. Potter. Only, she can’t let the other investors know, she gave up her stake to Potter a long time ago.

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