Nobel winner: Hillary Clinton’s ‘silly’ Irish peace claims
Hillary Clinton had no direct role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland and is a “wee bit silly” for exaggerating the part she played, according to Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province.
“I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around,” he said. Her recent statements about being deeply involved were merely “the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets” during elections. “She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience. I don’t want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player.”
Clinton’s experience claim under scrutiny
The debate over readiness for the global arena is emerging as the flash point in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, crystallized by a dramatic Clinton campaign commercial asking who is best prepared to answer a 3 a.m. phone call to the White House during a crisis.
Clinton says she is the answer, arguing that Obama’s major achievement was his early opposition to the Iraq war in 2002. Indeed, Obama doesn’t have much in the way of experience managing foreign crises, nor does Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, for that matter. In fact, it is rare for any president to have that kind of experience before coming into office.
In Clinton’s case, she may well have exercised influence on foreign policy that is hard to document because she had a unique opportunity to offer private counsel to her husband, President Bill Clinton.
But while Hillary Clinton represented the U.S. on the world stage at important moments while she was first lady, there is scant evidence that she played a pivotal role in major foreign policy decisions or in managing global crises.
Breaking the final rule
It will come as a surprise to many people that there are rules in politics. Most of those rules are unwritten and are based on common understandings, acceptable practices, and the best interest of the political party a candidate seeks to lead. One of those rules is this: Do not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party’s nominee. This is a hyper-truth where the presidential contest is concerned.
By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party’s nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her.
As a veteran of red telephone ads and “where’s the beef” cleverness, I am keenly aware that sharp elbows get thrown by those trailing in the fourth quarter (and sometimes even earlier). “Politics ain’t beanbag,” is the old slogan. But that does not mean that it must also be rule-or-ruin, me-first-and-only-me, my way or the highway. That is not politics. That is raw, unrestrained ambition for power that cannot accept the will of the voters.
McCain’s consistent folly on Iraq
On the campaign trail, John McCain has retreated on immigration, changed his mind on tax cuts and admitted economics is not his strong suit. But all that’s unimportant, we are told, because he was Right On Iraq — back at the beginning, when he endorsed the invasion, and again over the past year, when he has stoutly supported the surge. So, whichever Democrat he faces, the November election could be a referendum on the Iraq war and his support for it.
If so, that may not be a plus for McCain. McCain has been consistent about Iraq, in the sense of being consistently wrong. If the American people get a long look at what he’s said and a clear picture of our fortunes in Iraq, he may yearn for the days when he was being pilloried for offering “amnesty” to illegal immigrants.
The Iran hawks’ latest surge
Recently, I asked former Mossad officer Michael Ross what he thought of the latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released in December, which downplayed the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. “That farce?” he replied, adding that many in Israeli intelligence were “furious about it — not just the conclusion of the estimate, but its timing as well.” Some Iran hawks believe that the United Nations Security Council was poised at the time, with the United States leading the charge, to tighten the vice on the Iranian regime with tough new sanctions. But in the wake of the NIE’s disclosure, there was a powerful shift in world opinion about Iran’s alleged nuclear program, and the momentum was apparently lost.
Quiet US support for Egypt’s Gaza effort
To defuse the threat from Gaza militants to Israel and President Bush’s Mideast peace program, the U.S. has decided that the ends justify the means.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is considered a terrorist group by Washington. U.S. law forbids official contacts. Nonetheless, the Bush administration is giving quiet support for Egypt’s attempt to broker a deal with Hamas for a truce in Gaza.
Under this approach, which U.S. officials and Mideast diplomats confirmed, Hamas would halt rocket attacks from Gaza. Israel would agree not to launch the kind of military incursions that nearly wrecked the U.S.-sponsored peace talks last weekend and would ease its blockade of Gaza.
Another milestone on the road to serfdom
This weekend, the darkness continues to descend in Washington, the powers of the state continue to grow and the mechanisms of accountability rot away unused. Americans are focused on the selection of a new president. Many of them share the naïve assumption that on January 20, 2009, when a new leader takes the oath of office from the south steps of the Capitol Building, the Founders’ constitutional order will once more be set aright and the extra-constitutional excesses of the Bush years will be but a bad memory. But whoever is installed as the new guardian of presidential power will not likely part with many of the rights that Bush claimed and was allowed to use, unchallenged.
And this weekend, we should regard the three remaining candidates from a more skeptical predicate. This weekend, the curtain of tyranny descends further in Washington. The Bush regime, bolstered by a surging 17% public acceptance in one poll, moves more closely towards a façade of legality for its national surveillance state. It acknowledges its abuse of other legislation and will suffer no consequences for that abuse, and in a symbolic coup de grâce, Bush will veto the latest Congressional prohibition on torture–for indeed, torture is the very talisman of his unchecked rule and his arrogant indifference to the rule of law. And in the midst of this, where, this weekend, are the three presidential finalists? They busy themselves with the accumulation of delegates for their march on the White House. They will mutter fine sounding words on the campaign trail—sentences will glimmer with “freedom” and “liberty”—but they will offer no action that shows those words have content.
Bush announces veto of waterboarding ban
President Bush vetoed Saturday legislation meant to ban the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, saying it “would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror.”
“This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe,” Bush said in his weekly radio address.
Why Iraq could blow up in John McCain’s face
In Baghdad the Iraqi government is eager to give the impression that peace is returning. “Not a single sectarian murder or displacement was reported in over a month,” claimed Brigadier Qasim Ata, the spokesman for the security plan for the capital. In the US, the Surge, the dispatch of 30,000 extra American troops in the first half of 2007, is portrayed as having turned the tide in Iraq. Democrats in Congress no longer call aggressively for a withdrawal of American troops. The supposed military success in Iraq has been brandished by Senator John McCain as vindication of his prowar stance.
Sadr takes break from politics, cites failures
Iraq’s elusive Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has decided to drop out of politics for the time being because his disillusionment with the political scene in Iraq has left him sick and anxious, he said in an unusually personal letter to his followers released Friday.
In a written response to a query from a group of followers asking why he hadn’t been seen in public for so long, Sadr said he had decided to devote himself to a period of study, reflection and prayer after failing in his core mission to rid Iraq of the U.S. occupation or to turn it into an Islamic society.
He also cited the betrayal of some followers, whom he accused of falling prey to “materialistic” politics.
“So far I did not succeed either to liberate Iraq or make it an Islamic society — whether because of my own inability or the inability of society, only God knows,” Sadr wrote.
Officials lean toward keeping next Iraq assessment secret
A new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month, according to U.S. intelligence officials. But leaders of the intelligence community have not decided whether to make its key judgments public, a step that caused an uproar when key judgments in an NIE about Iran were released in November.