Monday, October 23 , 2017, 1:15 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 

Tam Hunt: An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

As Bernie Sanders said in endorsing you: you’re far and away the better of the two remaining candidates. But don’t take that as an unqualified endorsement. Progressives still have major concerns about your record and how you will govern.

I’m writing this letter to you now to ask you to consider serious changes in your support for moneyed interests and a militaristic foreign policy if you become our next president.

Progressives will vote for you, but many will be holding their noses as they do. Don’t take this personally and please don’t dismiss this language as hyperbole or based on right-wing propaganda (of which there is an abundance).

You have some major question marks in your record in terms of your sincerity to progressive leadership.

Yes, much criticism directed your way has been unwarranted. The Benghazi issue should be put to bed, and the latest Republican-led two-year inquiry, which found no evidence of wrongdoing, supports this conclusion.

Your email scandal, while reflecting bad judgment and carelessness on your part, is excusable given that your predecessor Colin Powell used private email, too.

You just seem to have been more careless with your use of a private email server and your treatment of a small number of emails that you should have known contained classified information.

There is as yet no evidence of actual harm from this carelessness, so most progressives won’t hold this against you.

You are a progressive on many key issues. In many areas you’re not that different than Bernie Sanders and your record shows this.

The insidegov.com comparison shows that on most domestic issues you aren’t that different than Bernie. And it shows that you were in fact one of the more liberal members of the Senate during your time serving the people of New York.

The key things that progressives do worry about with respect to your possible presidency are the role of money in politics and your foreign policy, and both amount to the same worry: you have shown a pronounced loyalty to moneyed interests and power more generally.

Progressivism is first and foremost about fairness, opportunity and respect for all people. You can’t be a Wall Street or military-industrial complex lackey and a consistent progressive at the same time.

You must follow through with your campaign promises to overturn Citizens United and do what you can to dramatically reduce the role of big money in politics.

You must also release the contents of the talks you gave to Goldman Sachs in 2013, after you left the State Department, for which you were paid the princely sum of $675,000.

More importantly, turning to foreign policy, you must restrain your impulse to attack “the bad guys” in other countries just because you will have a very big stick at your disposal and, perhaps, because you feel that as the first female president you need to show that you’re as tough or even tougher than the men around you.

Your record on decisions to wage war is abysmal. You’re far too hawkish for most progressives.

You have generally shown a predilection for military responses to the world’s problems alongside a disturbing bloodthirstiness at times.

What were you thinking with your statement about the death of Qaddafi — “we came, we saw, he died” — after the U.S.-led invasion? You couldn’t even attempt a defense of this comment when asked about it later in a Fox News interview.

Your biggest blunder, however, was your support for the Iraq war while you were in the Senate in 2003, against the better judgment of many of your colleagues and much of the country at that time.

That war will surely go down in history as the biggest U.S. foreign policy tragedy after or perhaps even ahead of the Vietnam War. At least you have now acknowledged that that vote was a mistake.  

It wasn’t difficult to see in the run up to the war that the Bush team’s case for war was largely trumped up and not based on good evidence.

Time has shown that these concerns were justified, in a big way, particularly as we’ve seen the debacle that Iraq has become and the great many negative side effects of that illegal invasion have become apparent.

The rise of ISIS is a direct result of our invasion of Iraq, as well as other bad foreign policy decisions in the preceding decades.

You also supported the Libyan invasion, and by many accounts you were the main official in the Obama administration pushing for war.

We have also seen that military action lead to tragedy and catastrophe for yet another nation now left in shambles and turned into a breeding ground for yet more terror.

Despite these amazing failures, these indelible stains on American history and the world, you now support more aggressive action in Syria and have advocated for imposing a no fly zone over that country, which amounts to an air invasion of a sovereign country.

While your intention to save civilians from Assad’s forces is admirable, it should be clear to you and all policy leaders that a military solution is not going to work in Syria.

We are already waging yet another illegal war in Syria — there’s been no U.N. sanction for U.S. military actions in Syria, and Assad has not invited us into his country — and yet you have advocated even more aggressive actions in Syria than President Obama is already pursuing.

At what point do you and your fellow hawks on foreign policy recognize that more violence is not the solution? We instead need to ensure that our borders and our defenses at home are strong, to work diligently in hot spots around the world to fund and guide progressive elements, and “drain the swamp” in areas where violent extremist ideologies have taken hold.

Military solutions are exactly the opposite of this approach because military solutions inevitably lead to the creation of more violent extremists.

In sum, I and many progressives will probably vote for you this November because the stakes are just too high to risk a Trump win.

Yes, Trump is that bad, and he’s highly antithetical to almost everything progressives stand for.

But you have made that vote very difficult with your record in supporting Wall Street and the military-industrial complex time and time again.

— Tam Hunt is a lawyer and writer based in Santa Barbara and Hilo, Hawaii. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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