The highlight of last night’s Democratic debate in Milwaukee was Bernie Sanders’s attack on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy mentor Henry Kissinger for paving the way to the Cambodian genocide in the ’70s and for fighting China by way of Vietnam at enormous cost to young Americans then wanting to ship American jobs to that country in recent decades. Sanders:
“I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. Count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.”
Sanders pointed out that Clinton had described Kissinger’s mentorship in her 2014 memoir, Hard Choices. Kissinger comes up half a dozen times in Clinton’s book as a trusted advice-giver when she was secretary of state.
Henry Kissinger checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels.
She calls him Henry:
I have joked with Henry that he was lucky there were no smartphones or social media when he made his first trip to Beijing. Imagine if a Secretary tried to do that today.
Someone else who comes up on a first-name basis is Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. A couple of dozen times, Clinton refers to him as “Bibi”. Including the time she describes her efforts as secretary of state to get Netanyahu to apologize to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 that killed nine aid workers.
My efforts to convince Bibi to apologize to Turkey seesawed back and forth for the remainder of my tenure. On several occasions he told me he would finally do it, only to be stopped by other members of his center-right coalition. I even enlisted Henry Kissinger to make the strategic case to him in August 2011.
President Obama effected the apology in March 2013 on his visit to Jerusalem– after Clinton had left the Secretary of State job.
Clinton has of course promised to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu in her first month as president. And her devotion to Israel arose explicitly twice in last night’s Democratic debate: attacking Iran for its backing of Hezbollah and Hamas and for sending rockets to Gaza, criticizing Sanders for wanting to have Iranian troops in Syria right alongside our ally, Israel.
On neither occasion did Sanders take the bait.
But if her friendship with Henry Kissinger is an issue for the Democratic base –and it is– Clinton’s Israel friendships ought to be just as worrisome.
President Obama hired Clinton as Secretary of State in the first place by way of the Israel lobby, and because of her street cred with the Israel lobby. Jason Horowitz reported in the New York Times in 2014:
Once elected, Obama seemed to understand that he needed someone to lend him credibility with the Israeli government and its American defenders, a tough friend of Israel who could muscle the country away from settlements and toward a peace agreement. An aide to Obama called Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, and asked him to call Hillary Clinton to see if she would be “agreeable” to being named secretary of state.
Here’s more evidence of that connection. Max Blumenthal and Sarah Lazare report today at Alternet’s Gray Zone on the extensive fees the Clintons have gotten from pro-Israel organizations, including the Jewish National Fund, which has played a leading part in dispossessing Palestinians of their land.
An evaluation of Hillary Clinton’s public disclosures from 2001 to 2015 shows that she and Bill, and their daughter, Chelsea, have earned roughly $4 million in speaking fees from pro-Israel organizations, including JNF and organizations allied with the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The vast majority of these documented payments—$3,599,999—have gone toward the Clintons’ personal income, and up to $450,000 has been funneled into the Clinton Foundation…
More than $400,000 in speaking fees have come from a group that supports Netanyahu:
Bill Clinton received $425,000 for two speeches to Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a right-wing group that generally supports the Likud-run government of Benjamin Netanyahu and is hostile to Democrats
You’d think this would be low-hanging fruit for Bernie Sanders. Think again.
P.S. As I said, Clinton’s book refers to Netanyahu as “Bibi” about two dozen times by my rough count. Sometimes those references are glaring because Arab leaders are not on a first-name basis:
Bibi and Abbas sat next to each other…
The President said he would call both Morsi and Bibi from Air Force One…