Dennis J BERNSTEIN
Because of the failure of the corporate press to report fully on Hillary Clinton’s policy failures throughout her career, it was difficult for voters to perceive how dangerous her presidency might have been, although many Democratic voters bolted to Bernie Sanders and enough Americans voted against her last November to give Donald Trump his narrow Electoral College victory.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on March 30, 2012. [State Department photo]
In the following conversation with the legendary filmmaker and muckraking journalist John Pilger, we leap off from his recent article regarding Clinton’s new book and her recent appearance on Australian Broadcasting (ABC).
In the interview, I delve with Pilger into the career of Clinton as a hawkish U.S. senator who continued her interventionism as Secretary of State, not only voting for the Iraq War in 2002 but protecting the 2009 coup in Honduras and pressing for the “regime change” war in Libya that turned the once-prosperous country into a failed state. She also chuckled at the news of the rape-murder of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Dennis Bernstein: Hillary Clinton has been featured on Australian Media to talk about her new book and apparently to blame anyone and everyone for the fact that she lost the election to Donald Trump.
John Pilger: Actually, the interview I wrote about was conducted in New York but it was broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on their flagship current affairs program called “Four Corners.” The interviewer was someone with a reputation for hard-hitting interviews named Sarah Ferguson. I thought it was an extraordinary display of Clinton’s attempting to justify herself after all these months.
When I was in New York recently I read quite a few interviews conducted by female reporters with Hillary Clinton in which she was portrayed as a feminist and therefore all else should be set aside if not forgiven. This was what came across in the Sarah Ferguson interview. It opens with “your pain seemed almost visceral, describe your pain to us.” It was as if she were being invited to lie on a therapist’s couch instead of being interviewed. This has run right through interviews with Clinton by women journalists. The whole question of identity politics has such potency now that a corrupt politician who deceived and abused the electorate can be held up as a martyr.
There is nothing in the interview, for example, about why she described ordinary Americans who might have voted for Trump as “irredeemable and deplorable.” Nothing about how she earned from Goldman Sachs speeches a total of about $670,000, displaying the sort of greed that upset ordinary people in the US.
And of course there is the central issue of the emails leaked by WikiLeaks, which showed how involved Clinton has been with the whole violent, corrupt world of the Gulf and jihadism. The very people backing jihadism, especially Saudi Arabia, were donating large sums to the Clinton Foundation. All this is missing from this and other interviews. It shows how the power of identity politics can eclipse the facts. There was even a photograph I saw in New York of a reporter with her arm around Clinton, consoling her.
Dennis Bernstein: The feeling you get in watching this whole thing unfold is that this is a full-court press to distract from the content of the released emails.
John Pilger: It is very easy to distract attention from something if you simply don’t mention it. I have always felt that the most virulent form of censorship is censorship by omission. The whole nefarious state of the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation is simply left out of these interviews. Hillary Clinton is able to plead a kind of special case for herself because she is a woman and a feminist.
Dennis Bernstein: After this interview with the Australian Broadcasting Company, the producer referred to Julian Assange as “Putin’s bitch.”
John Pilger: The producer re-tweeted a troll message to advertise the interview with Clinton, and especially the component in which she defames Julian Assange. You have to remember, this is the state broadcaster in Australia, which is Julian Assange’s country. Assange pointed out that the ABC’s code was meant to prevent this kind of bias. It was a particularly bad interview but in a sense it was also a very typical one. It allowed a figure of great power and contention to say anything she wanted to say without challenge.
There was no mention of Libya in all of this. Libya was Hillary Clinton’s invasion. It was Hillary Clinton who famously rejoiced on camera the gruesome murder of Colonel Gaddafi. 40,000 people died in this criminal US and NATO invasion. None of this was mentioned, no solidarity with the women who died. There is no solidarity with the women who will suffer as a result of the coup in Honduras, which Clinton signed off on as secretary of state. Simply to make an exception of women like Hillary Clinton because she is a woman and would have been the first female president of the United States seems to me to be a very powerful form of censorship what we should be aware of.
Dennis Bernstein: Hillary Clinton laughed at Qaddafi’s on-camera assassination. She thought that was funny. She bragged about sustaining the coup in Honduras over the opposition of all the presidents in Central America, which has now led to Honduras being the murder capital of the world.
John Pilger: Her notoriety should be clear in the public consciousness. There she is on video saying, “[We] came, [we] saw, he died.” Gaddafi was murdered publicly with a knife. His convoy, which was trying to escape from Libya, was only intercepted because NATO aircraft identified where it was. She gloated at the murder of this man. We should be enlightening people as to the corrupt and very violent nature of individuals such as Hillary Clinton. We are letting the public down if we buy into these identity politics stereotypes. I am sure there are many feminists who find Hillary Clinton and what she has done appalling. But the media still present this woman as something very different from Trump. The grotesqueness of Trump has allowed many liberals in the United States to put aside the fact that Hillary Clinton really is the embodiment of a corrupt system.
A companion piece to censorship is double standards. With Hillary Clinton, it is an incandescent double standard. Many feminists foolishly went along with her call to support the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 on the premise that it would free the women of Afghanistan from the Taliban. Actually, it changed the position of women very little but it caused a great deal of suffering in that country.
What we are seeing is an important issue–that of identity politics–being used as a cover for violent invasions of other countries. In the Australian interview the interviewer fed her the question, “How much damage did Julian Assange do to you personally?” Her answer was that she had a lot of history with him because she was secretary of state when WikiLeaks published a lot of very important information from our State Department and Defense Department. What Clinton failed to say, and what the interviewer failed to ask her, was that in 2010 WikiLeaks revealed that Clinton had ordered a secret intelligence campaign targeted at the United Nations leadership. This intelligence operation, signed by Clinton, went after things like credit card passwords and forensic details about the communication systems used by UN officials. It was by any measure totally lawless spying.
Dennis Bernstein: There is every indication that these key emails were leaked by someone at Democratic party headquarters who was upset that Hillary and the Democratic leadership undermined Bernie Sanders’ bid for the nomination.
John Pilger: I had a long, filmed interview with Julian Assange one year ago and I asked him outright where the Podesta emails had come from, if they had come from Russia, and he said no. It seems to me that there is every likelihood that these emails were the result of what you just described. Clinton really cut the ground from beneath Sanders. We know that the emails are completely authentic. They expose the Clinton Foundation and its greed and how important Saudi Arabia was to Hillary Clinton. After Saudi Arabia and Qatar had donated generously to the Clinton Foundation, Clinton as secretary of state approved the biggest arms sales in history, something like a total of $80 billion. As a result, total US arms sales to the world doubled. That is big business, that is big war-making, and I would say that is big corruption.
Dennis Bernstein: It is not an exaggeration to say that she was a warmonger, that she was someone who embraced war.
John Pilger: Yes, she was. All the polls during the election campaign last year indicated that Clinton and Trump were two of the most despised candidates to ever run for president. I suppose the people’s memory of that has been clouded over by the awful presence of Trump.
Dennis Bernstein: Anyone concerned about the plight of Palestinians has to recall Operation Cast Lead–which killed around 2,200 people, including about 500 children, with the bombing of schools and hospitals. When Clinton was asked about that, she said, “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
John Pilger: Compared to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Trump is a bit of a wimp. After Obama was elected and before he was inaugurated, he was on vacation in Hawaii where he met with members of his National Security and Defense Department team and he approved support for Israel’s attack on Gaza. So Obama’s first foreign policy act was to approve Israel’s onslaught on the people of Gaza. I think that wondering whether a politician like Clinton will ever do something requiring strong principles and a sense of social justice is really very naive. We have to see these people for what they are. Both Clinton and Trump are a symptom of the system and people must start concentrating on the system and how to change it.