Richard Holbrooke: A Hillary Clinton Neocon

Richard Holbrooke likes Hillary Clinton. In fact he may well be asked to serve as Secretary of State if she is to win the presidential campaign next year. Holbrooke, a Democratic adaptation of Henry Kissinger, loves her approach to foreign policy.

“She is probably more assertive and willing to use force than her husband,” says Holbrooke, a former adviser to Bill Clinton. “Hillary Clinton is a classic national-security Democrat. She is better at framing national-security issues for the current era than her husband was at a common point in his career.”

Holbrooke is an example of just how scary a Clinton administration would be.

In 1975, during Gerald Ford’s administration, Indonesia invaded East Timor and slaughtered 200,000 indigenous Timorese. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor set the stage for a long and bloody occupation that recently ended after an international peacekeeping force was introduced in 1999.

Transcripts of meetings among Indonesian dictator Mohamed Suharto, Gerald Ford, and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have shown conclusively that Kissinger and Ford authorized and encouraged Suhatro’s murderous actions. “We will understand and will not press you on the issue [of East Timor],” said President Ford in a meeting with Suharto and Kissinger in early December 1975, days before Suharto’s bloodbath. “We understand the problem and the intentions you have,” he added.

Henry Kissinger also stressed at the meeting that “the use of US-made arms could create problems,” but then added, “It depends on how we construe it; whether it is in self defense or is a foreign operation.” Thus, Kissinger’s concern was not about whether US arms would be used offensively, but whether the act could be interpreted as illegal. Kissinger went on: “It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly.”

After Gerald Ford’s loss and Jimmy Carter’s ascendance into the White House in 1976, Indonesia requested additional arms to continue its brutal occupation, even though there was a supposed ban on arms trades to Suharto’s government. It was Carter’s appointee to the Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Richard Holbrooke, now a likely candidate to be nominated for Clinton’s Secretary of State, who authorized additional arms shipments to Indonesia during this supposed blockade. Many scholars have noted that this was the period when the Indonesian suppression of the Timorese reached genocidal levels.

During his testimony before Congress in February 1978, Professor Benedict Anderson cited a report that proved there was never an US arms ban, and that during the period of the alleged ban the US initiated new offers of military weaponry to the Indonesians:

If we are curious as to why the Indonesians never felt the force of the U.S. government’s ‘anguish,’ the answer is quite simple. In flat contradiction to express statements by General Fish, Mr. Oakley and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Holbrooke, at least four separate offers of military equipment were made to the Indonesian government during the January-June 1976 ‘administrative suspension.’ This equipment consisted mainly of supplies and parts for OV-10 Broncos, Vietnam War era planes designed for counterinsurgency operations against adversaries without effective anti-aircraft weapons, and wholly useless for defending Indonesia from a foreign enemy. The policy of supplying the Indonesian regime with Broncos, as well as other counterinsurgency-related equipment has continued without substantial change from the Ford through the present Carter administrations.

If we track Holbrooke’s recent statements, the disturbing symbiosis between him and figures like uberhawk Paul Wolfowitz is startling.

“In an unguarded moment just before the 2000 election, Richard Holbrooke opened a foreign policy speech with a fawning tribute to his host, Paul Wolfowitz, who was then the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington,” reported First of the Month following the terrorist attacks in 2001.

The article continued: “Holbrooke, a senior adviser to Al Gore, was acutely aware that either he or Wolfowitz would be playing important roles in next administration. Looking perhaps to assure the world of the continuity of US foreign policy, he told his audience that Wolfowitz’s ‘recent activities illustrate something that’s very important about American foreign policy in an election year, and that is the degree to which there are still common themes between the parties.’ The example he chose to illustrate his point was East Timor, which was invaded and occupied in 1975 by Indonesia with US weapons – a security policy backed and partly shaped by Holbrooke and Wolfowitz. ‘Paul and I,’ he said, ‘have been in frequent touch to make sure that we keep [East Timor] out of the presidential campaign, where it would do no good to American or Indonesian interests.”

In sum, Holbrooke has worked vigorously to keep his bloody campaign silent. The results of which appear to have paid off. In chilling words, Holbrooke describes the motivations behind support of Indonesia’s genocidal actions:

The situation in East Timor is one of the number of very important concerns of the United States in Indonesia. Indonesia, with a population of 150 million people, is the fifth largest nation in the world, is a moderate member of the Non-Aligned Movement, is an important oil producer — which plays a moderate role within OPEC — and occupies a strategic position astride the sea lanes between the Pacific and Indian Oceans… We highly value our cooperative relationship with Indonesia.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press in June 2008. Check out the Red State Rebels site. Read other articles by Joshua.

12 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Max Shields said on July 25th, 2007 at 6:43am #

    Thanks Josh for this article and the research.

    It illustrates the underpinnings of US foreign policy, the pure arrogance of power. The continuity, as Hollbrooke puts it, is there regardless of what wing of the party (Repub/Dem) is overseeing the euphemistic “national security”.

    American empire could never be without that bare fisted arrogance that shadows each administration. That is why we are lost when we dwell on the prism of the Israel/Zionist/AIPAC influence. There is doubtless a confluence, but it is the raw hegemony that dictates US policy.

    In these terms, national security, or put another, and more appropriate way, THREAT, is not meant to be a threat to the life and limb of American homelanders (except for public consumption to drum up war). THREAT is the tool of a policy of DOMINATION. Whatever threatens, however it is threatened, it must be attacked. Iran is a THREAT because it poses a relatively minor obstacle to total US Middle East domination. H. Chavez is a threat because he respresents an alternative to the US puppet regime – and so far he has been successful.

    Hillary Clinton will fit just fine with this arrogance. She’ll stop listening to the man she loaths once she’s ensconced in the Oval Office, and Richard becomes her point man.

  2. Hatuxka said on July 25th, 2007 at 7:49am #

    Holbrooke extolling how ready H. Clinton is to use force (code words for many ugly possibilities) kinda sickens one for what the future might bring and is depressing for how little things are likely to change if and when this crowd takes over.

  3. Adnan said on July 25th, 2007 at 8:43am #

    Another higlight of Holbroke’s career was when he carwed half of Bosnia as award for Serbian genocide.

  4. cemmcs said on July 25th, 2007 at 3:06pm #

    He’s awful. I saw him on PBS the other night repeating the lie that Hussein wouldn’t let the weapons inspectors to verify that there were no WMDs in Iraq before The US invasion.

  5. Shabnam said on July 25th, 2007 at 8:34pm #

    Thanks for this article that exposes Holbrooke.
    On April 11, 2006 Richard Holbrooke was the host of Charlie Rose show with Joe Klein and Leslie Gelb from the council on foreign relations as his guests. They were talking about Iraq and they agreed that Israel wanted Iraq war and got it, and Israel is pushing for a war with Iran now. I am sure Holbrooke thinks highly of Hillary Clinton because both think the same way. Both are very secretive and arrogant, and they try to deceive people with big words such as DIPLOMACY. Holbrooke thinks the major beneficiary of US policy in the last five years is Iran, “the most dangerous country in the region”, he says, copied from Aipac manuscript. Both have said they will leave all the options open to deal with Iran. They use diplomacy to get what Israel want, if not successful then attack, like in Bosnia. Bush is doing the same thing. He Pretends using the diplomacy channel but he is not genuine and is trying to fool the “international community” that consist of former colonial/ imperial countries and weaker countries where have been either bribed or forced into the “community”.
    Hillary Clinton spoke about Iran at an AIPAC conference once and she called for talks with Iran. But she tried to make us to understand that the purpose of talks with the Iranians was to assess the situation and find out about their weakness to be prepared for the last resort, military action. In a speech at the council on foreign relations, Hilary expressed affection in words only, for the INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES and wants to create even more International organizations. One should ask Hillary, the AIPAC girl, why does she put pressure on Iran to abandon her rights, protected under the international agency program NPT, to fuel enrichment for peaceful nuclear energy but says nothing about Israel nuclear program that has been exposed more than 24 years ago by Vonuno who paid dearly for it, 18 years in prison. Vonuno has repeatedly said “Israel nuclear program is the problem for world peace not Iran peaceful nuclear energy.” One must have no Sense of responsibility to call Sharon “the man of peace” and asks the victims of the Zionists, the Palestinians, to abandon the election result, Hamas, where took place under the international agencies and instead to work with the puppet of Israel and the US, Abbas and the turned Millioner over night, Mohammed Dahlan, who are supported by Israel and US.
    Holbrooke believes that we need even more troops to maintain “peace” in Iraq and like Hillary who voted for the war, thinks Israel must win in Iraq. Israel plan is to partition Iraq to create a puppet state in name of Kurdistan to be an ally of Israel in the region. Kurdistan is a spy network for Israel and Us and the Kurdish leaders repeat the lies of the occupier when they say “if US leaves, a civil war will follow.” The Kurds want US to stay in Iraq indefinitely.
    http://www.senate.gov/~clinton/news/statements/details.cfm?id=265807
    http://agonist.org/xanthippas/20070721/the_kurds_and_the_future_of_iraq

  6. Deadbeat said on July 26th, 2007 at 2:04am #

    Thanks Shabnam for your excellent analysis and response. Regrettably there are voices on the left that would rather alter the emphasis and obscure the details.

  7. Max Shields said on July 26th, 2007 at 7:14am #

    Regretably there are those who are blinded to the historical record. Chalmers Johnson has written an excellent trilogy, you no doubt have heard (read?) about it.

    Johnson doesn’t shy away from controversy and his thesis is very strong (and cooberated) regarding US empire. Israel is mentioned merely as one of the 700 + US bases. In other words it has no role in US foreign policy over the great expanse of hist recent history.

    I find it strange that Joe Klein was blaming Israel for the US invasion/occupation of Iraq (or anything else). He pushes attacking Iran every chance he’s in front of a camera; a regular Joe Lieberman think alike. These are not guys that are going to spill the beans about Israel (so I question the authenticity of Klein being party to this discussion). Leslie Gelb has been pushing this arrogant notion of dividy Iraq into three states (with his buddy, Bidden). So, I question what this has to do with Israel, per se, unless Gelb is representing Israel’s interest. So, far this notion is going no where with the boys in power.

    If this were a thread on the invasions by Israel into Lebanon or the Palestinians; than there is no denying the war crimes committed by Israel; and the imperative for justice. But Holbrooke represents, not Israeli interests (except tangenentially). He represents US hegemony as it has been thoroughly documented. I won’t deny that there are probably Israeli officals who wanted us to invade Iraq; or that AIPAC was in agreement (and even pushing the invasion).

    But that is not why we’re in Iraq; and any more than the Christian right made the decision.

    Holbrooke does represent a hawkish (ala Kissinger) world-view. It is an arrogant view of US world dominance. And it has a long history that pre-dates, this administration, or the existence of the country we refer to as Israel. And yes, Hillary is very comfortable from all accounts with that world view.

  8. Max Shields said on July 26th, 2007 at 7:20am #

    For those who think the poor US is just a victim of Zionism, we live in the belly of the beast. We can either do something about it or delude ourselves into thinking some evil Zionist has been making us do it – in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, and in the Middle East.

  9. Binh said on July 26th, 2007 at 7:42am #

    One question I have for Mr. Frank is – why did you shut down your blog? I rather liked it.

    Nice piece on this SOB. A Dem in the White House = the second coming of the neocons.

  10. Hatuxka said on July 26th, 2007 at 12:26pm #

    Anyone who tries to make the middle east crises one so abstract that it can be unlinked with the Israeli/Palestinian issue is being dishonest. Give it up. Not gonna fly. As if the that quest for “world domination” or “hegemony” would not have multiple subsidiary elements or driving justifications.
    Here’s what this jerk— Holbrooke said in October 2001 in a french magazine interview:
    “Bush doit mettre les points sur les «i» auprès de Moubarak, car le pire scénario possible serait le maintien d’un lien entre la question du terrorisme international et celle de l’Intifada.”
    he’s basically saying the burden post-9/11 is on (for example) Mubarek to “get it right” because if he doesn’t the worst scenario (or outcome) will be a link between international terrorism and the Intifada. He’s drawing a specious AIPAC playbook-type link and putting the burden on Mubarek to stop one from developing, as if what Sharon and his successors and Bush would do were any less critical vis a vis the fate of the Palestinians and how they might go Al Qaeda on us (yeah right, as if they would ever not steer well clear of possibility of handing Israel a excuse for wiping the Palestinians off the map). And of course the U.S. and Israel have far from gotten it right, just the opposite. Where can I find Holbrooke ever saying that it’s what Bush and the Israeli leader do right or wrong that would affect the possible establishment of a link between the Intifada and Al Qaeda?

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