Back at the end of June this year, when the Democratic primary was underway in New York, I had cause to travel into midtown Manhattan, something I rarely do these days, to visit one of the many Irish bars that still flourish despite the preponderance of one percenters in that part of the city, many of whose taste in watering holes, I assume, are a good deal more upscale.
Anyhow, when I arrived who did I bump into but a couple of Sinn Feiners, including one character who way back in the early summer of 1994 had reacted with scorn bordering on derision when I opined that the impending IRA ceasefire would last a good deal longer than the three months he and the rest of the faithful had been told to expect.
Perhaps it was because there was no leadership spy in the vicinity to report their doings or just that they didn’t care if there was – one is now a prosperous businessman who would be foolish to alienate – but a friendly enough conversation followed.
One of the two had spent much of that day at Fitzpatrick’s Hotel, off 57th Street, where it seems the Clinton’s, Bill and Hill, had set up base camp for the primary contest. From the direction taken by our exchange it was evident that Sinn Fein was throwing its weight behind Hillary, notwithstanding the fact that not so long ago Bernie Sanders’ politics would have been their preference.
At that point in the Democratic primary contest, Sanders was giving Hillary a real scare and this was not going down well in the Sinn Fein camp. “Why is he doing it?”, complained one.
You don’t have to be a genius to work out why the Shinners are backing Hill. It’s the peace process, stupid! With Hillary in the White House, Gerry Adams & Co expect to have a friend in the highest place on the globe or at least someone who will ensure that Mr Adams is not again left outside the White House waiting in the cold while lesser mortals enjoy the St Patrick’s Day revelries inside.
Since then the threat from Sanders has dissolved and that from Donald Trump has greatly diminished. And as Hillary Clinton’s confidence has swelled two things have happened: her need to indulge Sander’s supporters has all but evaporated and this has allowed her to move to the right, to cosy up especially to anti-Trump Republicans.
It has also allowed her to welcome support from neoconservative Republicans, including not a few who worked in George W Bush’s White House. Hillary has a well-deserved reputation as a foreign policy hawk, and is expected to take a more robust line than Obama with Russia’s Putin and against Israel’s perceived foes, primarily Iran. Look at how she revelled in the Libyan misadventure! So entertaining neocons’ hopes makes a certain sense.
It remains to be seen how much influence these neocons have over her various policies and/or whether she gives any of them jobs on her foreign policy staff. If she does then Sinn Fein may have cause to start worrying, because the peace process in Northern Ireland is not something they admire or would like to foster.
Take for example the most prominent of the Bush neocons to have thrown his hat into Hillary’s ring. He’s called Elliot Abrams and there’s an article from Counter Punch below which gives you a flavour of his career and an idea of what the man is like.
Abrams was working in the Bush White House during the second phase of the peace process and the mark he left on it should give SF cause to shiver.
The peace process as far as US involvement is concerned went through two distinct stages. The first, during Bill Clinton’s years, was aimed at getting Sinn Fein and the IRA to the Good Friday Agreement; the second, during George W Bush’s time, was directed at mollifying the Unionists and persuading them, in the eventual shape of Ian Paisley’s DUP, to go into government with the Shinners.
That meant kicking Provo ass, specifically finishing off the IRA decommissioning process and getting the republicans to accept the new policing arrangements. Once that was accomplished, and the IRA’s war could be seen to be over, the way was opened for the power-sharing Executive that has functioned more or less successfully since 2006, a full decade.
The American diplomat charged with overseeing this phase of US policy towards the North, was Mitchell Reiss, a former academic turned senior State Department official who Bush made ambassador to the peace process.
Now Reiss was not at all liked by the Provos; he demanded they decommission fully, believed that Tony Blair (along with Bertie Ahern) was coddling the IRA and when the Northern Bank was robbed and Robert McCartney stabbed to death, he withdrew Gerry Adams’ permission to raise money for Sinn Fein in the United States.
Now, you would think that a toughness like this would have gone down well with the White House’s necons. But not a bit of it.
Dealing with terrorists, even when they are prepared to do your bidding, is forbidden in the neocon playbook and so Elliot Abrams conspired to get Mitchell Reiss sacked from his peace process job. Thereafter a virtual empty hole replaced him in the White House bureaucracy, as the peace process was downgraded and it stayed that way when Obama replaced George W Bush.
So, if the Provos have any sense they will still their celebrations this November if Hillary beats Donald Trump and wait to see the shape and colour of her foreign policy staff before they pop the corks. They may not be to their liking.
July 5, 2016
You cannot stress the point too much. When (not if) Hillary Clinton becomes President of the United States of America, U.S. foreign relations will take a step back thirty years to the dark ages of Ronald Reagan.
By comparison, the age of Obama’s drone wars will appear delicate.
The danger of a Hillary Clinton presidency will rear its ugly head from day one, when she officially huddles with the Council on Foreign Relations and its Middle East policy “educator,” Elliott Abrams.
Because neocons like Hillary Clinton more than they do the unpredictable villain Donald Trump, this setup is not a secret and Abrams is but one of Clinton’s many neoconservative champions.
Elliott Abrams is a dangerous man, and everything he scribbles proves it. Read at your leisure.
One of the most infuriating and shameful acts of U.S. foreign policy in my time, excluding the Vietnam War, which amounted to a genocide beyond the pale, was the Reagan Administration’s support of the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s. The Sandinista rebel, Daniel Ortega, had come to power on the promise of economic reform in the Central American nation after the overthrow of the U.S. backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza.
Somoza, a U.S.-educated elite from a family of dictators, initially fled, his suitcases stuffed with cash, to Miami in 1979. President Jimmy Carter threw him out and he alit in Paraguay, where Sandinista hitmen finished him off in 1980.
Along came the Reagan Revolution after Carter’s perfunctory humanism—recall he was as anti-Soviet Union as the next American politician.
Ortega’s promise to attack poverty and illiteracy in Nicaragua had swept him into power via free elections and threatened U.S. influence in the region. Reagan and his underlings fought back with all the poison the CIA could muster, including the illegal arms-for-hostages deal with Iran and the arming of anti-Ortega rebels—the so-called Contras, mainly the malingerers of Somoza’s security forces.
Reagan used the long-dead horse of falling dominoes to justify his policy, while later claiming ignorance of the deal. A mostly complacent America went along with the ruse, one of the last incongruities of Cold War containment philosophy.
Into the Nicaraguan conflagration walked a Portland, Oregon kid named Ben Linder, an idealistic and committed activist with a recently-earned engineering degree from the University of Washington. Ben was working on a small hydroelectric project in a rural area north of Managua, April, 1987, when the Contras found him and two local co-workers, tossed grenades at them, and finished the trio off with bullets to the head. Ben and his friends were assassinated by a U.S. sponsored death squad. Our nation was, in the very least, morally culpable.
But you couldn’t tell that to Rep. Connie Mack III, grandson of the baseball legend, and State Department functionary Elliott Abrams after the brutal act. They blamed Ben Linder.
Going before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Ben’s parents sought answers about why their son had to die, and blamed U.S. policy-makers for his death. What transpired at those hearings is one of the most despicable and disgraceful abuses of power in the U.S.’s long history of despicable and disgraceful abuses.
Abrams and Mack seemed to relish their roles as protectors of the CIA-sponsored right-wing death squads controlling the Nicaraguan countryside.
Ben’s mother, Elizabeth, pleaded that the U.S. government should go after the killers. Abrams and Mack angrily told her to mind her own business.
They were heartless, and the entire fiasco was on television for all to see.
That Elliott Abrams could resurface on George W. Bush’s team, after being convicted in 1991 of obstruction charges related to his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, is all you need to know about the deep corruption of the power-elite lineage in America.
Now Abrams, who has grown up to become the senior fellow for Middle East studies at the CFR is counting Hillary Clinton among his friends. The courting and first kiss is about happen.
Wait for it.