20 February 2016

Did Hillary talk ‘democracy’ to Ray McGovern or did she not?

February 20, 2011.  Exactly five years ago.  That's when I wrote about Hillary Clinton's democratic credentials.  Today, Hillary is once again trying to get the Democratic Party's nomination for the US Presidential Election.  Once again, she is 'front-runner'.  Once again she's tripping.  Why this happens to her can perhaps be found in the incurable deceit that plagues her.   This article refers to some of the issues.  Read on. 

A few weeks ago an organization with a dubious track record, especially with respect to Sri Lanka, Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) along with an equally shady outfit called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDF, made up of LTTE-backers, money-launderers and petty thieves) called for a boycott of the Galle Literary Festival, citing issues pertaining to freedom of expression.  Well known personalities like Noam Chomsky and Arundathi Roy signed the relevant petition. Of all the authors appealed to, just one heeded the call, discovered something called a conscience while partying in Sri Lanka, and left. We are yet to hear if this man has reimbursed costs incurred by the organizers. 

That little ‘nothing’ was duly overshadowed by events in Tunisia and Egypt.  When Egyptians took to the streets and the end of 30 years of tyrannical rule by Hosni Bubarak seemed imminent, the United States of America, realizing that their darling dictator’s use-by date was approaching expiry, adopted the language of democracy, transition, freedoms etc.  Washington called for similar demonstrations in other Middle Eastern countries, being careful to exclude tyrannies friendly to US interests in the region.  Just as things being settling down in Egypt with no outward sign of US interests suffering any damage, protests erupted in Libya and Bahrain. We are yet to hear wild applause from Washington regarding Bahrain; the tone is still cautionary.  The Washington-friendly media is however all over Muammar al-Gaddafi.  

Mark LeVine in a piece titled ‘Here we go again: from Egypt to Bahrain,’ points out that ‘if the US is Egypt's primary patron, in Bahrain it is among the ruling family's biggest tenants, as the country is home to the Fifth Fleet, one of the US military's most important naval armadas, crucial to protecting Persian Gulf shipping and projecting US power against Iran’.  Bahrain is considered, LeVine argues, relatively moderate compared with Saudi Arabia, the ouster of whose ruler by a popular uprising Washington will not hear of.  To put things in context, Bahrain is repressive and far from free and even the State Department acknowledges that civil liberties, press freedom, speech, assembly, association and some religious practices are restricted.  What Washington’s Plan B for Bahrain is we do not know yet; these are after all and it is left to be seen whether things will be played according to the Washington Script for the Region. 

What is pertinent, however, is the consistency shown by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with respect to democracy-speak.  Freedoms are spoken of.  The sanctity of life is stressed.  The right to protest is championed.  When things seem slanted towards script-flip, there is appeal for calm, reason and better judgment.  The importance of freedom of expression is mentioned.  And there’s the quiet, behind-the-scenes grooming of successor or blueprinting of succession-roadmap.  

The sanctimony of it all is galling and this is not on account of the Wikileaks regurgitation of what most people who peruse media sources different from the Washington-guided already knew.  If anyone has any doubts about how two-tongued the United States is about democracy, justice, freedom, humanitarian concern and so on, the US vetoing a UN resolution on February 18, 2011 that would have condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank as ‘illegal’ and called for an immediate halt to all settlement building, these can low be laid to rest. 

All 14 other Security Council members voted in favour of the resolution. The US position was that while opposing settlement in principle, the Security Council was not the appropriate venue to resolve the Israel-Palestinian ‘Conflict’ (they don’t call it the occupation of Palestine).  So it’s ‘yes-on-principle’ but ‘no-in-practice’.  Susan Rice, busybody personified, says the Council should not attempt to resolve the core issues.  It was not about resolving core-issues Susan knows very well; it was statement of position, nothing more and nothing less.  Then again, that’s typical Washington language-skill or lack thereof!

So expect in the coming weeks and months a lot more of ‘more of the same’.  In other words, hypocrisy, feigned language-ignorance, selective umbrage at tyranny, clearing dictator shelves and replacing expired items with fresh ones, the celebration of some protests and cautioning of others, the switch from Plan A to Plan B or Plan C or D if necessary and so on. 

The world will hear countless lectures on freedom and democracy, decency and justice, civilization and humanity.  Some will listen, some will not. Some may applaud and others will smirk.  They’ll all be lectured to, nevertheless.  But there is one person that Hillary Clinton will not dare to lecture to.  His name is Ray McGovern.

On February 15, 2011, even as this lady was acting as though she was some Special Rapporteur on Goodness, she saw an infringement of all things she claims to hold sacred. Right before her eyes.  She was speaking at George Washington University condemning governments that arrest protestors and do not allow free expression. A 71-year-old man, Ray McGovern was grabbed from the audience in plain view of her by police and an unidentified official in plain clothes, brutalized and left bleeding in jail. She never paused speaking. When Clinton began her speech, McGovern remained standing silently in the audience and turned his back. Mr. McGovern, a veteran Army officer who also worked as a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years, was wearing a ‘Veterans for Peace’ t-shirt.

Blind-sided by security officers who pounced upon him, Mr. McGovern remarked, as he was hauled out the door, "So this is America?" Mr. McGovern is covered with bruises, lacerations and contusions inflicted in the assault.

Listen to the lady folks.  She’s entertaining. As is her boss, Barack Obama. 

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer who can be reached at malindasenevi@gmail.co