Hard-Core Antiwar Left Not Ready to Forgive Hillary Clinton

For some activists who cut their teeth opposing the Iraq War, Clinton will always be a “warmonger.”

Anti-war groups hold a demonstration against a US intervention in Iraq in front of the White House in Washington on June 16, 2014. 
National Journal
Alex Seitz Wald
Add to Briefcase
Alex Seitz-Wald
June 17, 2014, 11:57 a.m.

Hil­lary Clin­ton may have fi­nally re­can­ted on her 2002 Sen­ate vote to au­thor­ize the in­va­sion of Ir­aq, but in the eyes of the die-hard an­ti­war act­iv­ists who gathered Monday even­ing in front of the White House to protest an­oth­er po­ten­tial mil­it­ary con­flict with the coun­try, the former sec­ret­ary of State can nev­er apo­lo­gize enough.

“We’re not go­ing to for­give her, des­pite her best ef­fort to white­wash her his­tory,” said Bri­an Beck­er, the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the an­ti­war AN­SWER Co­ali­tion, which formed in the run-up to the Ir­aq War. “We con­sider Hil­lary Clin­ton to be al­most a part of the neo­con­ser­vat­ive es­tab­lish­ment.”

About 40 act­iv­ists un­furled ban­ners and beat drums in front of the White House as Pres­id­ent Obama pre­pared to send 275 troops in­to Ir­aq to de­fend Amer­ic­an in­terests against a po­ten­tial as­sault on Bagh­dad from Is­lam­ist mil­it­ants who have taken con­trol of much of the coun­try.

The pro­test­ers uni­ver­sally viewed Clin­ton’s dis­own­er­ship of her Ir­aq vote as mo­tiv­ated by po­ten­tial pres­id­en­tial am­bi­tions, rather than a genu­ine change of heart. That vote helped stop her last pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, and is already caus­ing heart­burn for a likely 2016 bid, now that Ir­aq is back in the news.

“Bot­tom line: You can al­ways count on Hil­lary to say the most polit­ic­ally res­on­ant thing of the mo­ment,” said Ray McGov­ern, a former seni­or CIA of­ficer turned an­ti­war pro­test­er who was ar­res­ted in 2011 (and he claims beaten) for protest­ing dur­ing a Clin­ton speech. “It’s bad enough to have that kind of per­son as sec­ret­ary of State; do we really want her to be the pres­id­ent of the United States? I don’t think so. She’s a men­ace.”

As sec­ret­ary of State, Clin­ton was of­ten in the hawk­ish wing of Pres­id­ent Obama’s Cab­in­et, sup­port­ing air strikes in Libya and arms de­liv­er­ies to rebels in Syr­ia. Robert Kagan, the vet­er­an sage of in­ter­ven­tion­ist for­eign policy, re­cently gave a thumbs up to Clin­ton’s for­eign policy, telling The New York Times that it’s “something that might have been called neo­con.”

Eu­gene Puryear, a far-left act­iv­ist who is run­ning for an at-large seat on the Dis­trict of Columbia Coun­cil, said there’s “ab­so­lutely no chance” he could sup­port Clin­ton. Her lat­ter-day ad­mis­sion that the vote was a mis­take is “highly op­por­tun­ist­ic … ab­surd and really of­fens­ive,” ad­ded Puryear, whose in­terest in polit­ics star­ted when he at­ten­ded an anti-Ir­aq War march dur­ing high school.

Gerry Con­don, the vice pres­id­ent of Vet­er­ans for Peace, was some­what more sym­path­et­ic, say­ing he thought Clin­ton had “learned her les­son,” but said he could still nev­er sup­port her. “We would wel­come her be­com­ing a politi­cian who ac­tu­ally sup­ports dip­lomacy, but I’m not go­ing to hold my breath,” he said.

The prob­lem, these act­iv­ists read­ily ac­know­ledged, is that there’s no clear al­tern­at­ive for them. Some said they were in­ter­ested in a po­ten­tial bid from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., while oth­ers said they were resigned to vote for a third-party can­did­ate.

Phyl­lis Ben­nis, of the pro­gress­ive In­sti­tute for Policy Stud­ies think tank, said that to cap­ture the an­ti­war vote, any can­did­ate would need to not only re­nounce the Ir­aq War, but op­pose it’s leg­al found­a­tion, the Au­thor­iz­a­tion for the Mil­it­ary Use of Force, which Con­gress passed shortly after the Septem­ber 11th ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“Without that, I don’t think any can­did­ate could ex­pect to get any sup­port from the an­ti­war move­ment that helped get Obama in­to of­fice,” she said after a brief speech at the rally.

Carlo Chav­ar­ría, a 21-year-old rising seni­or at Amer­ic­an Uni­versity, said there’s no way he’d vote for Clin­ton in 2016. “She seems so pro­gress­ive on oth­er is­sues,” he said, but when it comes to for­eign policy, “she’s a war­mon­ger.”

Two oth­er young at­tendees — Colleen Moore, a 20-year-old ju­ni­or at Hobart Wil­li­am Smith Col­lege, and Ben Norton, a 22-year-old freel­ance writer who lives in Wash­ing­ton — agreed. “I will not sup­port her,” Norton said.

The co­ali­tion of groups rep­res­en­ted here, com­fort­able be­ing at the fringes of polit­ics, clearly feel em­boldened after the U.S. scrapped po­ten­tial air strikes against the As­sad re­gime in Syr­ia last fall. “It’s very sad that we have to be out again, and I think a lot of us are in shock that we are out here again, but let’s re­mem­ber that we did stop an in­va­sion of Syr­ia!” Code­Pink cofounder Medea Ben­jamin said over a loud­speak­er to cheers from the crowd.

“Is she the same Hil­lary?” Ben­jamin said with a laugh, as if the an­swer was ob­vi­ous, when asked about the po­ten­tial pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate after the rally. “This is polit­ics.”

What We're Following See More »
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
3 days ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
3 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login