Moral Low Ground


Hillary Clinton Called For Syria Airfield Strike Hours Before Trump Ordered Attack

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump advocated an escalation of the US war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq during the 2016 presidential race. (Photo: Moral Low Ground composite from Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons)

Former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday called for a US military strike against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s air force just hours before President Donald Trump ordered such an attack in response to what the US says was a regime chemical attack against civilians near Idlib.

Speaking at the Women in the World summit in New York City, Clinton — who was criticized during the campaign by voices on the right and on the left for being too pro-war — attributed the bulk of civilian deaths in Syria’s raging six-year civil war to Assad’s air power. “Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days,” said Clinton. “And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”

Hours later, two US Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired around 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at al-Shairat airfield in Homs province after warning Russian officials of the imminent strike. Syrian state media reported 15 people were killed in the bombing, including nine civilians — four of them children. US forces have come under fire for causing a dramatic increase in civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq since Trump became commander-in-chief.

Clinton’s pro-war record and views proved a liability during both the Democratic primary contest against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the 2016 general election. As First Lady, she boasted of her role in convincing President Bill Clinton to wage war on dubious grounds against Yugoslavia in 1999. As a former US senator, she voted to authorize both the US war in Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the invasion and occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003. As secretary of state, Clinton was a leading proponent of regime change in Libya and was instrumental in convincing a reluctant President Barack Obama to wage war there — without congressional authorization as required by law —  in support of the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. She also repeatedly threatened to attack Iran, even though US and Israeli intelligence agencies and officials concluded the Islamic Republic did not have and was not trying to develop nuclear weapons.

During the 2016 campaign, both Trump and Clinton called for an escalation of the US-led aerial bombardment of Syria and Iraq in the wake of the June 12, 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida. Clinton also came under fire during the campaign for accepting endorsements of some of the hawkish Republican figures in modern history. She called Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national security advisor who helped President Richard Nixon plan and implement the war in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in which millions of people were killed, and who green-lighted the dictator Suharto’s genocidal invasion of East Timor during the Ford administration, a “friend.” She also touted the endorsement of John Negroponte, who oversaw the creation of a notorious Honduran death squad and was instrumental in securing and maintaining US support for the Contra terrorist insurgency in Nicaragua during the Reagan administration.

Clinton’s hawkishness has not been diminished in defeat. During Thursday’s speech, she reiterated her support for a no-fly zone to protect Syrian civilians, a controversial policy she advocated throughout the 2016 campaign. “I still believe we should have done a no-fly zone,” she said. “We should have been more willing to confront Assad.” Clinton also insisted that had she been elected, she would have taken a tougher line with Russia over the ongoing Syrian slaughter. She said she would have told Russian President Vladimir Putin he is “either with us or against us on this no-fly zone.” During the 2016 campaign, many expert observers asserted such a no-fly zone would risk provoking a war with Russia.

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