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Hillary, Wikileaks and the Crisis of American Democracy

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While overshadowed by Donald Trump's appalling behavior, Wikileaks documents provide a damning portrait of Hillary Clinton, the likely next president of the United States, which should leave us all concerned.

Mrs. Clinton in these documents is exposed to say one thing to the public and another to her private donors with regard to Wall Street regulation, and to have pined for an extreme Republican adversary like Trump who would coarsen the rhetoric and allow her to take a moral high ground.

Equally disturbing are her views on foreign policy.

Speaking before a Goldman Sachs event in 2013 for which she was paid the princely sum of $225,000, Mrs. Clinton said that as Secretary of State she had advocated for secretly arming the Syrian opposition and moving forcefully to counter the Russians before they had even intervened in the conflict.

"My view is that you intervene as covertly as possible for Americans to intervene," she said in response to a question from CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Clinton added that we "used to be much better at this than we are now," suggesting that CIA officials too often leaked the details of their operations to friendly journalists so they could get credit.

These comments reveal Clinton's support for executive secrecy and deception that has resulted in an erosion of democratic standards and government accountability in the age of the War on Terror.

They also expose a disturbing ignorance of history.

Tim Weiner has written an important book on the history of American covert operations called Legacy of Ashes and William Blum an even better one entitled Killing Hope.

Both show that most covert U.S. military interventions since World War II have sowed violence, dictatorship and chaos, were often poorly executed, and resulted in political backlash.

Highlights include the 1953 coup that destroyed Iranian democracy, the Bay of Pigs fiasco and contracting of the mafia to kill Fidel Castro, sponsorship of a military coup in Indonesia that paved the way for one of the 20th century's worst genocides, and the financing of a secret army in Laos partly through the narcotics trade.

There was also the arming of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan who turned that country into a failed state and later applied their terrorist training against the United States.

Is this the golden age Mrs. Clinton was referring to when we "were much better" at practicing the clandestine arts, or was it rather her husband's presidency when private military contractors took over and set up illegal arms smuggling pipelines while training Islamists in Bosnia?

Hillary's speech surely went over well at Goldman Sachs, which has profited immensely from the opening of financial markets and promotion of investment opportunities covert interventions have often helped engender.

But can the rest of us tolerate four or eight more years of ceaseless wars that are making our world more unstable and draining our resources?

On Monday, the New York Times had a front page article that questioned the "blurring of the line between the public and private" for Clinton's inner circle.

The piece quoted from Wikileaks documents which exposed how Clinton's Chief of Staff at the State Department, Cheryl Mills, who also served as a consultant to the Clinton Foundation, worked ceaselessly to help a Korean garment maker, Woong ki-Kim, who had a spotty labor track record, open a factory in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Mr. Kim then donated money to the Clinton Foundation and helped finance Mills' startup company, Black Ivy Group, after she left the State Department. Black Ivy Group pursued infrastructure projects in African countries Mr. Kim was looking to expand his operations to and again take advantage of lax labor laws.

Another Clinton aide, Sidney Blumenthal, mentioned by Donald Trump in the last debate, used his direct access to the then Secretary of State to promote his business interests in Libya.

Prior to and during the war, Blumenthal would frequently email Clinton with intelligence information derived from the off-the-books intelligence spy networks that may have encouraged Clinton's strong backing for an expanded U.S. military role in Libya.

None of this should be of great surprise to those who have followed the political career of a woman journalist Diana Johnstone aptly called "the queen of chaos."

That she is the "liberal" candidate in this two pony-race however is deeply disheartening and speaks to the serious crisis facing American democracy in an era of corporate rule.

Jeremy Kuzmarov is author of Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Massachusetts, 2012).

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