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John McCain: “Hillary Clinton is an international star” *updated*

April 6, 2011

It’s not often (ie. never) that I agree with John McCain, particularly now that he’s been pandering to the far, far, far right of the political spectrum (ie. Tea Party and evangelicals).

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, calls Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton an “international star” but sharply criticizes the Obama administration’s policy on Libya.

At a [Christian Science] Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Wednesday, Senator McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate for president, was asked to rate President Obama’s national security team. “I think the international star is Secretary Clinton,” McCain said. “She has done a really tremendous job.”

Good for him.

Here’s a video of his criticism of Obama’s foreign policy. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have the quote about Secretary Clinton, which is strange because it was on the Christian Science Monitor website accompanying the story about his remarks about Clinton:

I don’t agree with how he frames our overall foreign policy, particularly with respect to Iran. In fact, he totally misrepresents the administration’s take on Iran. Is McCain actually expressing the belief that we use military force in every single place where there are humanitarian abuses? Because if that’s the case, here are just a few countries that Senator McCain might want to invade or bomb:

1. Saudi Arabia
2. Ivory Coast
3. Democratic Republic of Congo
4. Yemen
5. China
6. Iran
7. Institute a no-fly zone over Gaza
8. Bahrain

I could go on but you get the picture. Would McCain be willing to put his money where his mouth is and advocate for a draft? While the GOP is trying to slash every social program in the budget they don’t like (while giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires) and refusing to not only cut one penny from the defense budget, but actually demanding it be increased, I find all this war talk to be disingenuous.

In other news, Defense Secretary Gates is doing some hand-holding with the House of Saud because being the oppressive, authoritarian regime that they are (see list above), they see U.S. support for democracy in the region as a threat. This demonstrates yet another reason to decrease our dependence on oil from the Middle East. We are far too dependent on these tin-pot dictatorships. Of course, the same could be said of our economic dependence on China. *sigh* Yet none of these problems are being addressed by our Congress, who as we speak are striking yet another blow to the middle class via their slash and burn budget proposals.

One thing the above article mentions is that the United States is very willing to blame much of the unrest in Saudi Arabia (and Bahrain) on Iran. This seems a bit too politically convenient. It may very well be that Iran is taking advantage of some of the unrest in the region but lets not forget that every single Arab autocracy has blame “outside influences” and “foreign interference” as the cause of the upheaval. Because you know, it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with their citizens being sick and tired of having no jobs, no voice in the government, paying outrageous prices for food and housing and having few legal rights, all the while the leaders live in gold-plated palaces, place their friends and family members in cushy, high-paying jobs all the while raiding the public coffers. No, it couldn’t be that. It seems that the U.S. is using Iran as an excuse to exempt Bahrain and Saudi Arabia from our belief that governments shouldn’t kill their own people in an effort to suppress pro-democracy movements.

~One more news item of note: While Israeli President Shimon Peres was visiting with President Obama and Secretary Clinton, guess what announcement the Israeli government made? They will expand the settlements and build upwards of 1,000 [Jewish-only] homes beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem. The timing of that announcement is interesting, isn’t it? Whenever an Israeli President of Prime Minister is meeting with Obama, these announcements have a funny way of coming out- it’s sort of like rubbing our face in the fact that we are apparently helpless to stop this gross violation of international law and outright provocation of the Palestinians. Well, actually, we are not powerless to stop the settlements, we just refuse to use all the diplomatic and economic tools in our toolbox to get them to stop.

UPDATE:If you are interested in the issue of the federal budget and international affairs, development funding, please consider dropping a line to your member of Congress and tell them that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget is a disaster for many reasons but increasing defense spending while slashing the State Dept. budget is idiotic and short-sighted. From Josh Rogin over at The Cable:

The long-term budget announced on Tuesday by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would cut the budget for international affairs and foreign assistance by 29 percent in 2012 and 44 percent by 2016 — while increasing the defense budget by 14 percent over the same timeframe.

[snip]

Ryan’s proposal would increase the budget for national defense (the 050 account) $22 billion to a total of $583 billion in fiscal 2012 and would provide defense increases each year, leading to a $642 billion defense budget in 2016.

The House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee is responsible for filling in those details over the next couple of weeks as they write their fiscal 2012 appropriations proposal, the first draft of next year’s spending legislation. That document will be the basis of what are sure to be protracted and grueling fights over the State Department and USAID budgets throughout the summer and fall.

The House also passed a spending bill that would cut the State Department’s fiscal 2011 budget by 16 percent compared to the president’s request, a step that USAID administrator Rajiv Shah said would kill 70,000 children. The negotiations over that bill are going on right now, in an attempt to head off an April 8 government shutdown.

[emphasis added]

Talk about screwed up priorities. If the GOP were to get its way on everything, they’d succeed in running this nation right into the ground. It says a lot about the United States that our leaders (and some voters) are willing to write blank checks for defense spending while slashing funding for environmental, health, education and diplomacy, development and foreign aid (except Israel of course, which will see it’s financial aid increase). Think of all the stories you’ve heard about private contractor abuse, spending on weapons systems that a) don’t work or b) aren’t even needed. Nobody is saying the defense budget should be reduced to a level that puts us at risk but to not only not trim anything from defense spending, but to increase it, is truly stupefying (and short-sighted). Bernie Sanders seems to be one of the few members of Congress who is diligently fighting this. What’s incredible is that in many cases after the government finds massive fraud, those same companies often get REHIRED for more government contracting work. It’s called failing upwards but the U.S. taxpayer pays the bill.

Read this unbelievable article about how defense contractors seem to get preferential treatment, even after they have been found to be bilking U.S. taxpayers for hundreds of billions of dollars.

Of course, the Democrats are so afraid of being labeled “weak” on national security that they aren’t putting up enough of a fight over this defense spending issue.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. HillaryFan permalink
    April 6, 2011 4:57 pm

    woo hoo, stacy is back!

    Thanks for the update. It’s incredible how much bipartisan support Hillary has. If Obama were smart (big IF), he would have her out front and center more doing interviews and explaining our foreign policy to the American people because he’s terrible at it. I know she does this already but for a long time it seemed like Obama was under-utilizing her. I know she’s been on Sunday talk shows of late but she should do more interviews on morning shows and as stacy has said many times, even more interviews to Arab media including Al Jazeera. AJ reaches so many people in the Arab world- she can speak directly to them that way instead of through an international filter like our MSM

    That news about Israeli settlements is unbelievable. Has the state dept. come out and condemned it and if not, why?

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      April 7, 2011 1:29 am

      If he put her out front and center, there would be a lot more discussion of her being presidential and strong and so on. Her very presence would make him look weaker. That’s not saying much for him, but just look at all the comments her taking the lead on Libya generated, even from hardcore Obama fans like Chris Matthews.

  2. Thain permalink
    April 6, 2011 6:01 pm

    Nice. A well-deserved shout-out from Mr. Grumpy Old Man🙂

    HF asked this in her comment above but I’m wondering too. Any official statement from Hillary/the State Dept. about Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements? As far as I’m concerned, they are a crappy ally. If they would halt settlement construction DURING negotiations then we might get somewhere. The only reason they are building them in E. Jerusalem and in the West Bank is to change the facts on the ground in the hopes any final status agreement will tilt in their favor. Guess what? They have all the power and the US as their protector so the whole thing is already tilted in their favor. What part of that doesn’t the State Dept. and WH understand?

  3. Steve permalink
    April 6, 2011 7:51 pm

    I’m glad McCain gave Hillary credit- that’s about the only positive thing he’s done in the last three years.

    Can I just say that this administration is a disgrace when it comes to Israel bias? The way they have pandered to the Lobby regarding the Goldstone report is pathetic. Imagine if every time Israel claimed it’s rights were being violated by the Palestinians the U.S. responded “oh, just make the report disappear” or “the Palestinians can investigate themselves.” The US didn’t give a damn what the report said because anything that criticizes Israel is immediately undermined/killed by the U.S.

    The UN human rights council does evidence bias against Israel in that some members are critical of Israeli human rights abuses while ignoring their own. But do two wrongs make a right? The UN Security Council is so ridiculously biased in FAVOR of Israel, but the U.S. doesn’t see a problem with THAT.

    In this article I love how Amb. Rice just totally blows off the notion of UN recognition of a Palestinian state:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-committed-to-ending-anti-israel-bias-on-un-council-envoy-says-1.354455

    Because the US has done such a wonderful f*cking job of being a good faith broker in all of this.

    Honestly, Obama AND Clinton have been a big disappointed on Mideast peace. This idea that the Obama admin. is the slightest bit interested in a fair solution is ridiculous.

    • Thain permalink
      April 6, 2011 8:05 pm

      The US has no problem saying by implication that the Palestinians have no right to have another UN member-state bring a grievance to the general assembly or security council because the Palestinians don’t have a STATE and thus aren’t members. Obviously the only states that will bring up an action on behalf of the Palestinians is an Arab state- the US won’t and we’ll bully other Western countries not to either. But when Israel has an issue it wants brought up the US trips over itself to help them.

      That link stacy provided about the new settlements Israel is building- the US can’t even bring itself to call them “illegal” even though it is. So what recourse do the Palestinians have according to the US? NONE. ZERO. All we tell them is “come to the negotiating table and let Israel continue to violate your rights while we are negotiating a deal.” Do you think Israel would put up with those conditions? Of course not.

      So while Hillary-Obama-Rice-Biden etc. bang on about the double standard and bias against Israel which sometimes pervades the UN Human Rights Council, they gleefully deny Palestinians any recourse under international law and they totally are biased against the Palestinians on the UN Security Council. Of course it never occurred to the blockheads in the MSM to question this double standard or raise BASIC questions about why it’s ok for the Palestinians to have their rights violated every second of every day while the US denies them any hearing in the UN while anytime Israel gets a hang nail it’s the end of the world and the US demands action IMMEDIATELY!

      Everything Rice and the State Dept. have said about Goldstone is BS. But they get away with it because they know 1. the media will buy their BS and 2. the American people don’t know a damn thing about the report – you know, other than what the Lobby told them through their peeps in Congress and the media. Goldstone did NOT retract his report despite what the State Dept. says and no, the State dept. is not “vindicated” in their opposition to the report from day one. Also, Goldstone was only one investigator of several and all the other members have come out in recent days saying they don’t know what the hell Goldstone was talking about in the WaPo editorial.

      To hear Rice and Clinton tell it the only reason we’re even on the Human Rights Council is to protect Israel. Because apparently the US vetoing every single resolution condemning their illegal settlements or alleged abuses isn’t enough protection.

      Ask yourself this- can you name one thing that Israel could do that would cause the US to allow a claim or complaint to go forward in the UN- whether at the Human Rights Council, the Security Council or the General Assembly? Can you name just one thing? I can’t.

      I don’t know how some of these people sleep at night.

      If I could join up with that Flotilla heading from the West Coast to Gaza in May I would go in a second. But there are no openings😦

  4. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    April 6, 2011 8:31 pm

    This is a multi-comment post:

    1) Damn right Hillary is an international superstar. Too bad it had to be someone from the other party who pointed that out.

    2) Is it just me, or did anyone else find it weird that when Obama announced he was running again, there was no mention of Biden? It gave me a little ray of hope that he might make Hillary his running mate, but at this point, I don’t think she’d be interested. I’m still holding out for Terry’s idea — serve as SOS until early 2013, take a few years out to clean out the closets, then run for President in 2016.

    3) If it can’t be Hillary, I wish stacy were President.

    4) Stacy wrote, “Because you know, it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with their citizens being sick and tired of having no jobs, no voice in the government, paying outrageous prices for food and housing and having few legal rights, all the while the leaders live in gold-plated palaces, place their friends and family members in cushy, high-paying jobs all the while raiding the public coffers…”

    I was skimming this and thought you were talking about the USA, silly me.

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      April 7, 2011 1:30 am

      Yes! Stacy for President!

    • Terry permalink
      April 7, 2011 3:30 am

      Interesting piece in the NYTimes on the national security team.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/world/07team.html?_r=1&hp

      Will Hillary get more power? My response is “yes” if the Libya democracy effort comes to fruition. Maybe not if it drags on and on. From all reports, however, although the air strikes have leveled off, the diplomatic pressure is working very well behind the scenes. I am sorry to see Gates go. He served well and is a reasonable man. Hopefully they will find someone who will work well with the SOS.

      • April 7, 2011 1:38 pm

        I think Hillary has a lot of power in the admin. but the media are just obsessed with this idea that she may be marginalized- she clearly has not been. But they keep hoping.

        I’m not a huge Gates fan- I think he’s sneakier than people give him credit for. I read the Woodward book and a few others and it sounds like he is quiet but politically cunning. During deliberations it is said he waits to see which side of an argument will win and then he jumps in on that side- of course that wasn’t the case with Libya.

        I really believe one of the jobs of the Defense Secretary is to provide the POTUS with a layer of protection from being bullied by the military and I’m not sure Gates did that. He and Petraeus told Obama that if he increased troops in Afghanistan then they would stick to the pull-out date and not keep moving the goal posts and saying they needed more time and troops and as soon as the surge was announced guess what they both did- started moving the goal posts saying they would need more time and possibly more troops. Gates also apparently told a group govt officials that the US would never leave Afghanistan- we would always have a large troop presence and footprint there.

        I heard rumors that Gen. Patreaus wants to be the next Defense Secretary. I think that’s a bad idea. I think it’s good to keep civilians in that Cabinet post and I think Obama needs to pick a democratic Defense Secretary. Patreaus is apparently a Republican. The dems need to get over their fear of being called “weak on national security and defense” and they need to stop picking republicans for that post b/c it just reinforces the belief that the GOP are better at national defense. They’re not. In fact, I would argue that all their warmongering and ineptitude makes us LESS safe. No matter what the dems do they will always be accused of being weak on security.

        I also heard Leon Panetta also may be in the running for the job.

  5. Lulu permalink
    April 6, 2011 10:23 pm

    I’ve noticed that human rights blogs are ripping the State Dept for their politically expedient misrepresentation if the Gildstone Op-Ed. I wonder if it matters to Obama-Clinton-Rice etc. that there were 3 other judges besides Goldstone, all of whom stand by the original report.

    If the Goldstone Report had dealt w/ any other country than Israel the US would be cosmogony to support it.

    I am not voting for Obambi in 2012.

  6. April 6, 2011 10:28 pm

    Great post, Stacy! We claim to be in favor of more secular ME governments and to be anti-fundamentalism. Yet the Saudis focus attention and dollars on fomenting sectarian divisions. They have propagated the fundamentalist Wahabi Sunni sect throughout the ME, and they seem to believe that their position is strengthened if Sunnis and Shi’ites are fighting each other rather than banding together against their nondemocratic rulers…

    And I really wonder what we are doing in arming, funding, and training the rebels in Libya. I read on AJ that we are equipping them with sophisticated rockets and training them to use the technology. Talk about deja vu! Even if Gaddafi exits soon, I’m not so sure that the country will unite. We could be in the middle of a long-term civil war. I hope not, but it is very unpredictable.

  7. Lulu permalink
    April 6, 2011 10:33 pm

    Sorry for the typos in my comment- my last sentence should have said “clamoring to support it”- my Blackberry does autocomplete and sometimes i dont notice when it’s wrong.

  8. March 24, 2013 4:11 pm

    She is getting quite popular.

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