Muslim Press has conducted an interview with Richard Behan, to discuss the upcoming U.S. presidential election and the democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Here's the full text of the interview:
Muslim Press: Mr. Behan, What's your take on Hillary Clinton's relationship with African-Americans, Muslims, and Latinos?
Richard Behan: The Clintons have long curried the political support of minority communities, and seem genuinely congenial with each of them. But their congeniality is contrived intentionally to burnish the Clintons’ public personae; it is simply a veneer for what I believe to be the Clinton's indifference to anyone's welfare but their own. Hillary may hug the parishioners in a black church, and Bill may play his saxophone for Arsenio Hall, but minorities are NOT the Clintons’ primary clients. That distinction goes to American corporations, and the Wall Street banks in particular. I have documented much of this in an essay, The Clintons’ $93 Million Romance with Wall Street: a Catastrophe for Working Families, African-Americans, and Latinos. See it here.
MP: How have Bill and Hillary's policies affected these groups?
Richard Behan: The Clintons’ policies have devastated the minority communities of color, particularly the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act which led to a doubling of the American population living in poverty. The effect was felt most acutely by minority groups. Next came the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which produced the horror of mass incarceration—which fell again most heavily on the communities of color. The North American Free Trade Agreement exported the jobs of 30 million American working families, and two laws of “financial modernization” led directly to the subprime mortgage crisis. These Clinton policies crashed the living standards of the entire middle class, accelerating the inequalities of incomes and wealth; it is arguable the communities of color suffered most heavily here, as well.
The greatest impact of the Clintons' actions, however, is not exclusively in the realm of public policy, but in their deliberate transformation of the Democratic Party. Working with the Democratic Leadership Council in the late 1980's, they moved it sharply to the right, embracing the ideology of neoliberalism. Still maintaining a facade of progressivism, the policies of the “New Democratic Party” advance the interests not of the American people, but those of corporate America—the traditional role of the Republican Party. Indeed, Maureen Dowd calls Hillary Clinton, with biting accuracy, “The Perfect GOP Nominee.”
MP: Polls show she's likely to become the next president of the United States. If that happens, what do you think will change in US foreign policy?
Richard Behan: Nothing will change in US foreign policy. We will continue on the course of militaristic imperialism, seeking the hegemonic economic and political domination of the globe. But the greed of American transnational corporations, encouraged by Clinton policies, will be its undoing. The American economy has been hollowed out by NAFTA (and TPP, as Obama's swan song?), and empire cannot be sustained without a vigorous and growing domestic economy.
The US spends more on defense than the next seven largest military budgets in the world combined. Mostly with hot checks. Ms. Clinton's urge to continue is doomed to ultimate failure.
MP: How would that affect Middle East countries?
Richard Behan: Ask Iran. Ask Iraq. Ask Afghanistan. Ask Syria. Ask Libya. Ask Yemen. Before the ultimate financial incapacity to sustain it arrives, American foreign policy in the Mideast will continue wreaking havoc in the region.
The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were sold as a “war on terrorism.” They were in fact illegal invasions and occupations of sovereign nations to gain control of hydrocarbon resources and pipeline routes. This “Fraudulent War” is described here in detail, but it was a catastrophic failure: Iraq wallows in tragic chaos, but has not surrendered its oil, and there is no sign of an American pipeline from the Caspian Basin across Afghanistan. So American foreign policy in the region today wallows in its own tragic chaos, confronting the terrorism propagated by its misbegotten adventurism.
MP: What's your opinion about the rise of Islamophobia in the US? How did presidential campaigns affect this phenomenon?
Richard Behan: I suspect there is always a background of low-level suspicion of one culture by another, anywhere separate cultures are in proximity. Such suspicions might even be healthy, if they lead to a mutual effort of reconciliation, but they fall far short of “phobia.” They can be fanned into flames, however, by a competent demagogue, and we certainly have such a man in Donald Trump.
Richard W. Behan is professor emeritus of natural resource policy and dean emeritus of the School of Forestry at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.