Muslim Press has conducted an interview with political writer Diana Johnstone to discuss the upcoming US election and Hillary Clinton.
Here's the full text of the interview:
Muslim Press: Ms. Johnstone, in your opinion, how has the "American exceptionalism" affected the Middle East?
Diana Johnstone: Basically, the United States operates as the exceptional nation which has the unique right to decide which government leaders “must go”, in a long-range neocon project to create a “new Middle East”, involving changes in the state boundaries of Iraq and Syria. It has seemed that these changes would benefit Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, although Turkish leaders are increasingly worried that Kurdish military successes in the region could have dangerous repercussions in Turkey. One aspect of U.S. exceptionalism is the conviction in Washington that unlike the United States, which intervenes wherever it chooses, Russia is an illegitimate intruder even when it intervenes at the invitation of the country’s government much closer to home.
MP: What's your take on Hillary Clinton's "diplomacy" over Iran's nuclear deal?
Diana Johnstone: Briefly, her role was to strew the path with conditions, obstacles and objections. She now claims credit for the deal finally reached by others but continues to stress her willingness to punish Iran for any possible violation. Her attitude toward Iran as an essential enemy is in keeping with her particularly close relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
MP: What role did she play in Libya and Iraq wars? Was it a positive one?
Diana Johnstone: As a Senator from New York, she supported the 2003 conquest of Iraq. As Secretary of State, her role in the destruction of the Libyan state was much more crucial. First of all, her pressure was important in getting Obama to wage this war. Second, she brags in her memoir Hard Choices of her diplomatic skill in building the NATO-Arab alliance that used the deceptive “no fly zone” U.N. resolution to overthrow and kill Gaddafi. More surreptitiously, she sabotaged efforts by African and South American leaders and even by U.S. military officers to negotiate a peaceful compromise. Finally, her revealed emails show that her closest advisors planned to use her role in the overthrow of Gaddafi to present her as the champion of a successful regime change strategy, to help her win the 2016 presidential election.
MP: According to the Washington Post, Hillary Clinton hasn’t held a press conference in 257 days. What do you think about this? Is she afraid of answering critical questions?
Diana Johnstone: Her campaign strategy seems to be to lie low and allow mainstream media and the dominant political class to ridicule Trump day after day as unfit to be President, and thus to exalt Hillary Clinton as the reasonable, responsible candidate. In this game, the less she says the better.
MP: In your book, Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton, you suggested that the Republicans will nominate a candidate bad enough to make Hillary look good. Does that explain the rise of Donald Trump?
Diana Johnstone: Donald Trump obviously fits the description perfectly. When I wrote that, however, I was thinking of all the mediocre Republicans that Trump was able to defeat by his showmanship. The surprise is that Trump is not as bad as Clinton on foreign policy, but his eccentricity and the all-out campaign by the media and the power establishment to denigrate him seem likely to convince voters that Hillary Clinton is “the lesser evil”.
MP: What made you describe her as "The Queen of Chaos"? Is she that bad?
Diana Johnstone: “Queen of Chaos” is a rather elegant way of describing her, compared to many others. It refers precisely to the chaos in Iraq, Libya and Syria to which she has contributed, and of which she even feels proud – although she would call it “regime change”.
MP: How about those women who are inspired by her and want to see her as the first female president of the US? What would you say to them?
Diana Johnstone: Those women are thinking too much in terms of symbols and images. They are ignoring the major issue facing the United States: whether to make peace or war. The feminist idea is that by becoming President, Hillary will be “shattering the glass ceilings” – the invisible obstacles – that prevent women from rising to the top. But what about Christine Lagarde, the French woman who currently heads the International Monetary Fund? Hasn’t the “glass ceiling” preventing women from pursuing successful careers already been shattered, precisely by the current neoliberal world order which favors promoting women and token members of various ethnic groups? However, the successful careers of these ceiling breakers do nothing for the mass of women who are nowhere near any ceiling that needs to be broken. It isn’t Hillary who is changing the system. Rather, it is the change in the system that promotes Hillary.
Diana Johnstone is an American political writer based in Paris, France. She focuses primarily on European politics and Western foreign policy. She is the author of "Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions". Her new book is "Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton".