Friday, June 20, 2014

More to ‘Hard Choices’ than Benghazi

by Lloyd Billingsley

HiIlary Rodham Clinton 

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new book has been in the spotlight over what she says about Benghazi. That chapter, which starts on page 382, is not the only fascinating passage in Hard Choices. Consider, for example, what Hillary says about Islamists.

“The term Islamist generally refers to people and parties who support a guiding role for Islam in politics and government. It covers a wide spectrum, from those who think Islamic values should inform public policy decisions to those who think that all laws should be judged or even formulated by Islamic authorities to conform to Islamic law. Not all Islamists are alike. In some cases, Islamist leaders and organizations have been hostile to democracy, including some who have supported radical, extremist, and terrorist ideology and actions. But around the world, there are political parties with religious affiliations – Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim – that respect the rules of democratic politics, and it is in America’s interest to encourage all religiously based political parties and leaders to embrace inclusive democracy and reject violence. Any suggestion that faithful Muslims or people of any faith cannot thrive in a democracy is insulting, dangerous and wrong.”

Here readers see the straw man at his finest. Nobody is contending that people of any faith “cannot thrive in a democracy.” The issue is whether Islam itself has a problem with democracy, multi-party elections, free speech, women’s rights, gay rights, diversity, co-education and so forth. The evidence suggests that it does.

Islamists want more than a “guiding role” for Islamic law. They want an exclusive, dominating role. In Islamist regimes non-Islamic groups are second- or third-class citizens. In more than 600 pages Hillary includes nothing on the Islamist group Boko Haram, fond of kidnapping hundreds of girls and burning boys alive.

Some readers will be familiar with Huma Abedin, Hillary’s deputy chief of staff and her ties to Islamic supremacism. Consider how Hard Choices handles the matter.

In one meeting in Cairo, an agitated participant brought up an “especially outrageous canard. He accused my trusted aide Huma Abedin, who is Muslim, of being a secret agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. This claim circulated by some unusually irresponsible and demagogic right-wing political and media personalities in the United States, including members of Congress. . .” Hillary includes no background information on Abedin and her main argument is that Sen. John McCain has publicly defended her.

So has president Obama, who calls Abedin “an American patriot and an example of what we need in this country.” The president issued that praise “at the White House’s annual Iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast.”

Readers of Hard Choices are told that in North Korea the political oppression is “nearly” total. Actually, the oppression is total. “Famine is frequent,” she writes, and many of the people “live in abject poverty” but she does not tie that poverty to oppressive Marxist rule and a command economy, or compare the forced famines in China and Ukraine.

Hillary writes that “for fifty years Cuba had been ruled as a Communist dictatorship by Fidel Castro.” Fidel and brother Raul “continue to rule Cuba with absolute power.” As Humberto Fontova notes in The Longest Romance, Castro’s rule is as bad as it gets, comparable to Stalin’s. But Hillary offers no detail about the regime’s political prisoners and persecution of homosexuals. Chile, on the other hand suffered the “brutal military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.” And the coup that brought Pinochet to power, says Hillary, is “a dark chapter in our involvement in the region.”

The author provides no details about the coup and fails to note that the brutal Pinochet, unlike the non-brutal Castro, stepped aside to allow free elections. But readers will observe the first response to blame the United States. Hillary Clinton describes none of the episodes on her watch as Secretary of State, including the Benghazi attack, as a dark chapter in American diplomacy.

It took a village of handlers to produce Hard Choices, dumbed down to the point of explaining that winter in the southern hemisphere occurs at a different time of year. The book is highly autohagiographical, bulked with gossipy filler such as half a page on Benazir Bhutto’s shalwar kameez, “a long flowing tunic over loose pants that was both practical and attractive. . . We wore it for a formal dinner. I wore red silk and Chelsea chose turquoise green.”

On page 595 Hillary says she has yet to make the decision to run for President of the United States. If Hard Choices unsettles readers about her suitability for that office, they might also read Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 1999 book by the late Barbara Olson, a victim of the Islamist terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

Readers might also consult Peter Collier’s Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick. Hillary Clinton nowhere mentions Ambassador Kirkpatrick but deciding which woman is the tougher, more intelligent and more successful diplomat should not be a hard choice.

Lloyd Billingsley


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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