Sixty years ago today - on October 26, 1947 - Hillary Clinton was born in Chicago. Her fame began when she delivered a controversial address as the first student to speak at commencement exercises for Wesley College. Following a career in law, she ran for the United States Senate in 2000 and won one of the two seats from New York, and she won again in 2006. She is now the leading candidate for the President of the United States.
On the same day thirty-five years later - October 26, 1982 - this blogger was born in Tehran. Following seventeen years of life in Iran, I moved to the United States on my own to pursue my American dream of freedom and democracy. Deeply troubled by the wrong direction in which the Bush administration began taking this country at home and abroad, I entered college politics as a democrat because I intuitively understood how Bush's policies were being used by hardliners in Iran and Islamic radicals elsewhere to promote anti-Americanism. After graduation, I volunteered for NOW in Chicago and moved to Washington DC where I worked at a nonpartisan lobbying group before recently joining Nonviolence International as the Iran Director, promoting democracy in Iran. Today, I want to let you know that based on my seventeen years of life in Iran, eight years of life in America as an active citizen, and as someone who is intimately involved in promoting democracy in Iran, I cannot in good conscious lend Hillary Clinton my support because I believe she is the wrong for this country.
First of all, I want to make sure you know that I truly tried to support Hillary. I have listened to her, closely monitored her policies and votes throughout the years and she is the only presidential candidate to whom I have donated money in the past. And I believe that most of her domestic policies, such her ideas of supporting universal healthcare and rolling back the tax-cuts for the top one percent are sound and fair policy. But when it comes to foreign affairs, she has been showing every indication that she will pursue policies that are, for the most part, very similar to the failing policies of the Bush administration.
Let's start with Iraq. In 2003, she cast a vote that gave the president the authority to use force in case diplomacy with Saddam Hussein "failed." However, she knew very well that the legislation did not contain clear language as to who would make the decision as to whether and when diplomacy can be considered "failed" and military action justified. Furthermore, while she now claims that she voted for diplomacy and not war, she did not support the Levin Amendment introduced by Michigan's Senator Levin that would have forced the administration to follow diplomacy with Iraq without giving Bush the latitude to unilaterally use military force without explicit congressional approval. Senator Clinton knew well what she was voting for, and she consciously voted for military action against Iraq.
This claim becomes even clearer when one reviews her position on the war after she declared her candidacy for president. In an attempt to appeal to the left and capture the Democratic nomination, she has taken a stance against the disastrous war she authorized. But when asked by Tim Russert in the recent Democratic debate whether she would guarantee that she would bring all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of her first term - i.e. 2013 - she said that she could make no such promise. This indicates that her new-found opposition to the war is phony at best and deceptive at worst. The reason is that one's position on Iraq goes deeper than semantics, the number of troops we sent, how well they were equipped or how long they're staying; it is rather rooted in what we believe the role of the United States should be in the world, and whether such military intervention to topple foreign regimes is justified unless the security of this country is in serious and imminent danger.
Therefore, when it comes to making a decision about our troops in Iraq, there are two possible series of beliefs that can shape one's decision; One either believes that terrorists attacked us for our freedoms, Iraq had something to do with 9/11, United States was right to interrupt UN efforts and attack Iraq, mission has been accomplished, we were greeted as liberators, Al Qaeda is causing the violence in Iraq now (because they hate freedom) and American presence there has positive impact on the security situation; or otherwise, one believes terrorists attacked us for our policies, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, we went to war for fictitious reasons, overthrow of a regime by military force angered millions in the region, U.S. forces were not considered liberators but invaders, violence in Iraq is mostly caused by Iraqis who are resisting the occupation of a foreign military against their will, American presence in Iraq has become a propaganda tool for Al Qaeda to recruit more terrorists and that our troops have become the target for violence - and because of these factors - cannot possibly have any positive impact on the security situation and must be withdrawn as soon as possible instead of sacrificing more and more so this president can save face. When one looks at these two basic sets of beliefs, it becomes clear that one cannot possibly believe that war was a mistake but our presence in Iraq against the will of their people now is at all productive or morally acceptable.
Among other things, Senator Clinton has also showed a deep lack of understanding of why terrorists attacked us on 9/11 or continue to target American interests around the world. As the Bush Administration beats the drums for another war - this time with Iran - Senator Clinton is once again there to cheerlead as she recently voted for the hawkish Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, which declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization. No one with any level of commitment to freedom and democracy would have any support or sympathy for the brutal theocracy in Iran. But when it comes to international law, one should not follow a double-standard. While Senator Clinton has repeatedly conformed to the hawks in the U.S. Senate who believe the soundest policy toward hostile regimes is to name-call, she has repeatedly refused to condemn any action by the Israelis (Iran's main open enemy), including their possession of nuclear weapons without joining the NPT or allowing IAEA to visit their nuclear site(s), killing four UN observers in Southern Lebanon in 2006, occupation of West Bank and Gaza Strip in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, constant and unprovoked military attacks on their neighbors, active espionage activities within U.S. soil, military aid to Iran during the hostage crisis in early eighties and its continuous military support to military dictatorships around the world such as that in Burma, which recently used Israeli ammunitions to kill pro-democracy protestors. Senator Clinton has repeatedly failed to understand - or acknowledge - that the unconditional nature of support for Israel regardless of what it does has been identified by the intelligence community, 9/11 Commission and countries around the world as the main reason why terrorists attack us. As long as she continues to support giving one-third of U.S.'s entire foreign aid to Israel as Bush has done without attaching any conditions to those aids, terrorism against American interests will continue and our legitimacy to claim the moral high-ground will be jeopardized regardless of how many times she sends Bill around the world as a good-will ambassador.
Following President Bush's two exhausting terms, the country is ready for a radical departure from his failed policies so that we can begin to repair the damage that has been done to our image on the world stage. But because Senator Clinton has failed to fully acknowledge the extent of her mistake in authorizing the Iraq War, continued to support aggressive neoconservative foreign policies, regularly accepts donations from lobbying and special interest groups and is unwilling to support evenhanded foreign policies, she is the wrong choice for the Democratic nomination, and for this country.