"The Three Harpies are Back"
Counterpunch (June 20, 2016)
Those were the days when Libya (“We came, we saw, he died”) offered to the world a full-blooded humanitarian imperialist spectacle starring Three American Harpies: Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, actually four if Hillary’s mentorette and soul mate, Madeleine Albright, was included.
Pop cynics felt tempted at the time to coin those Amazons-in-waiting Brunhilde and the Valkyries. Or at least to qualify perma-smirker Hillary as Attila The Hen.
So let’s kill the suspense. There will be, predictably, a sequel. And it even comes with a somewhat highbrow preview, titled Expanding American Power, published by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank .CNAS happens to be co-founded – and led – by former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, who served in the Obama Administration under Leon Panetta.
Also predictably, CNAS and its combative paper read as a sort of grand PNAC remixed – including some of those same old neocon/neoliberalcon faces; Elliot Abrams, Robert Zoellick, Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross, and of course Flournoy herself, who a Beltway consensus already identifies as the next Pentagon head under a President Clinton.
In this context, Exceptionalistan rules in all its forms – from the juicy defense contractor donor list to the emphasis on NATO on trade via the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). After Brexit though, implementing TTIP will be a tall order – and that’s a mighty understatement.
Pentagon-in-waiting Flournoy was recently quoted as willing to send “more American troops into combat against ISIS and the Assad regime than the Obama administration has been willing to commit.”
Well, not really. She actually responded to the piece, arguing she’s in favor of “increasing U.S. military support to moderate Syrian opposition groups fighting ISIS and the Assad regime, like the Southern Front, not asking U.S. troops to do the fighting in their stead.”
She also argued that the U.S. should “under some circumstances consider using limited military coercion – primarily strikes using standoff weapons – to retaliate against Syrian military targets.” Thus, she adds, “I do NOT advocate putting U.S. combat troops on the ground to take territory from Assad’s forces or remove Assad from power.”
OK. No regime change then. Just “limited military coercion”. And don’t forget the creation of a “no-bomb zone”; as in “if you bomb the folks we support, we will retaliate using standoff means to destroy [Russian] proxy forces, or, in this case, Syrian assets.’” As if the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – and the Russian Air Force – would just sit there playing poker and waiting for the American bombs.
You will all remember that this is strikingly similar to Hillary Clinton’s own “policy” in Syria – which, semantically, amounted to a “no-fly zone”. In the context of the Syrian theatre of war, “no-fly zone” actually means regime change. No doubt Hillary Clinton has been a keen reader of George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language.
Give’em all hell
So if Flournoy is our Harpy Number Two in the new war series Syria Remixed, she’s obviously in synch with Harpy Number One Hillary. Hillary’s harpy eagle record, even partly summarized, is well known to all; in favor of the bombing and destruction of Iraq; major cheerleader of all things GWOT (Global War on Terror); cheerleader of the Afghan surge; the “no-fly” zone in Syria and more as a means towards regime change; rabid “containment” of Iran even after the nuclear deal struck in Vienna last year; Putin as the new “Hitler”; and the show goes on.
All this, of course, safely ensconced by all those dodgy nations – mostly the petrodollar gang – and companies that donated fortunes to the Clinton Foundation as a prelude to a healthy increase in weapons deals while she was Madam Secretary of State.
So we have Harpies One and Two seeing most of the world as a “threat” (the Pentagon identifies five; Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and “terrorism”, in that order; the Harpies may have add-ons). They identify a slew of core American interests challenged non-stop by these threats. They are enthusiastic cheerleaders of humanitarian imperialism and/or downright regime change. And they want to give hell to strategic rivals China and Russia.
No wonder uber neocon Robert Kagan loves this show with a vengeance, along with a vast neocon/neoliberalcon galaxy spread all over the Beltway. From Libya to Syria to “aid” to the House of Saud in its destruction of Yemen, what’s not to like?
And that brings us to Harpy Number Three; someone who actually worked for Number One in the State Department – and thus to the most terrifying words in the English language in case Number One lands 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Secretary of State Victoria Nuland – the neocon stalwart who immortalized “F**k the EU” even before Brexit. She should sue for royalties, but collect in US dollars, not depressed sterling.
The honorary Kaganate of Nulandistan dominatrix, as is well known, has enjoyed a pretty stellar revolving door; foreign policy advisor for Vice-President Dick Cheney; corralled into Obamaland by her protector and boss at Brookings, Strobe Talbott; Number One’s spokesperson at State; and currently Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, in charge of demonizing all things Russian. Let’s face it; get The Three Harpies in the ring, and they body slam those glowing WWF divas to Kingdom Come.
And those 51 warmongers love it
On Orlando, Hillary Clinton was keen to note, “this is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and it reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.” Of course there’s no problem if those “weapons of war”, manned or “advised” by US personnel, kill innocent civilians across what the Pentagon calls MENA (Middle East, Northern Africa).
There is hardly any question that the Three Harpies Remixed – Hillary, Flournoy and Nuland – will get “their” war on Syria, whatever the Orwellian semantics employed. After all 51 warmongering “diplomats” have already endorsed it. And a long time ago, as WikiLeaks revealed, Harpy Number One had already disclosed that “the best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.” Realpolitik may have proved that Iran actually had a negative nuclear capability, but what the hell, regime change remains alive and kicking.
Others, such as the Stanley Kubrickian Dr. Strangelove, sorry, General Philip Breedlove, former NATO supreme commander, are also shopping for a Defense job in a putative Clinton administration. But he’s no match to the Three Harpies dream team. It makes it so much cozier, and family fun, for the Deep State to deploy Full Spectrum Dominance – that Enduring Freedom Forever doctrine – when played by an all-star female cast. They came, they saw, they’ll bomb.