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Republican Claims of Clintonian (Hillarian?) Malfeasance

2016-07-20

Here are some (most?) of the things that Republicans claim that Hillary Clinton has been guilty of, according to Chris Christie (based on a NYT account of his speech at the Republican Convention):

  1. Libya: supposedly Hillary is responsible for the collapse of governance in Libya because she advocated the NATO bombing of Moammar Gaddhafi’s troops when they threatened to overwhelm Libyan rebels in Benghazi in 2011.  In fact, Christie called Hillary the “chief engineer of the disastrous overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya.”  To blame Hillary as the “chief engineer” for the troubles of Libya seems overblown, to say the least.  She certainly counselled support for the Libyan rebels, but she wasn’t chiefly responsible for the bombing campaign; that was a decision made by President Obama and the heads of the NATO countries.  To blame anyone other than Gaddhafi for the situation in Libya is to be ignorant of history.  Gaddhafi was the dictator who ruled Libya with an iron hand for many years, and who made a deal with President Bush to slide out from under responsibility for terrorism and the Lockerbie bombing by paying reparations and turning over one of the suspects in the bombing to Scotland for prosecution (in addition to cooperating with “rendition” of terror suspects and secret torture).  If anyone, Bush was responsible for allowing Gaddhafi to remain in power after that pivot.  Gaddhafi was clever, and he saw the handwriting on the wall after the attacks of 9/11/2001; he decided to curry favor with Bush by making it appear that he was cooperating in the “war on terror.”
  2.  Terrorism in Nigeria and Boko Haram: Christie blamed Hillary for keeping Boko Haram off the State Department list of terrorist groups for two years.  He called it “amazing.”  In fact, she was advised to leave the organization off the list by “Islamic scholars and regional experts [who] had urged it to try other means of confronting the group’s tactics.”  Christie claimed that Hillary’s “actions had led directly”  to Boko Haram’s kidnappings of over two hundred teenaged girls.  To blame Hillary Clinton for the actions of a terrorist group in Africa is disingenuous, to say the least.  Boko Haram’s behavior would not have been inhibited by the State Department’s putting them on a terrorist list, nor anything else the State Department could reasonably have done short of assassinating their entire leadership.
  3.  Trade with China: Christie claimed that Hillary was “desperate for Chinese cash” and that she pushed Obama to oppose the “Buy American” provision of his economic stimulus legislation in turn for a promise to China.  He claimed that she supported  “big-government spending financed by the Chinese” in opposing the “Buy American” provision.  This provision was “protectionist” and could have provoked a trade war with the Chinese, not to mention the fact that it would have had little effect on our balance of trade with China.  To call the stimulus package “big government spending” is just name-calling.  There was no “promise to China” in any case; she opposed the protection provision for practical reasons.
  4. Syria: Christie claimed that Hillary had defended Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and called him “a reformer.”  He then laid partial responsibility for the 400,000 deaths in the Syrian civil war so far at her feet.  In fact, what she really said (in 2011, at the beginning of the protests against Assad) was “some members of Congress in both parties ‘believe he’s a reformer.’ ”  She never defended Assad, nor said anything remotely positive about him after 2011.  To blame her for anything Assad has done is simply false.
  5.  Iran: Christie blames Hillary for the Iran nuclear treaty and claims that it is indefensible, allowing Iran to continue its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.  This is false, and a complete mischaracterization of the treaty.  It is true that Hillary had a hand in the treaty but not that it is a bad treaty.  Iran made significant concessions in the treaty and, as the NYT says, has disposed of 98 percent of its nuclear materials and dismantled most of its centrifuges.  There is no evidence that the treaty makes us “less safe”; in fact, there is more safety with the treaty than without it.  Iran gave up most of its nuclear ambitions in order to end a crippling economic blockade; if the blockade had continued, it is likely that Iran would have become more radical than before.
  6. Russia: Christie blames Hillary for “that stupid reset button.”  This is disingenuous when Donald has made admiring statements about Putin.  It merely plays to the crowd’s (warranted) suspicion of Russia.
  7. As the NYT states,

Finally, Mr. Christie accused Mrs. Clinton of choosing to set up a private email server in her home in order to protect her personal secrets. “Let’s face the facts: Hillary Clinton cared more about protecting her own secrets than she cared about protecting America’s secrets,” he said.

It is unclear what “secrets” Mr. Christie thinks Hillary is protecting, but it is unlikely that she would be able to keep any of her secrets from the prying eyes of the Republican attack apparatus.  Armed with subpoenas and lawsuits, as well as House Committee hearings, there is little that would escape the scrutiny of the right-wing investigators.  It is also unclear how government servers could have protected American secrets any better than Hillary’s private servers; there is no magic about government computer equipment that makes it immune from Chinese military hackers.  Fortunately, there are no allegations that any of our government’s secrets have been disclosed due to insecure emails sent or received by Hillary.

The bottom line is that Christie, and the Republican attack apparatus in general, is (successfully) trying to smear Hillary with every perceived foreign policy failure of the United States in her lifetime.  The result is that the general public has unfairly come to view Hillary as untrustworthy and untruthful.  The “untruthful” attitude is particularly ironic when we compare Donald’s acknowledged tendency to gross exaggeration and documented history of downright falsehoods, which he refuses to correct when confronted with the truth.

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