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Meanwhile, Steve Weisman, whom I haven’t seen for many decades, was one of the brightest leaders of the Free Speech Movement. It was he who asked me (21 years old and in my first year as a graduate student in philosophy at U.C. Berkeley), on December 2nd, 1964, to lead the Chanukah service at 1 a.m. in Sproul Hall during the FSM sit-in to shut down the university, and then around 6 a.m. he asked me to climb down a rope with him from the second story of the building so we could explain to the thousands of students standing outside what we were seeing as the police arrested and brutally hurt many of the nonviolent demonstrators who had taken the nonviolent resistance pose sitting on the floors of the hallways of this University of California administration building. This was the first time I ever spoke to thousands of people, and I was humbled and honored to be able to represent the many who were being arrested (as I was planning to be till Weissman asked me, who was a member of the executive committee, to come with him outside). –Rabbi Michael Lerner
Hillary’s No Neo-Con. She’s Far More Dangerous
By Steve Weissman, 18 January 2016
Though Hillary and Bill opposed the war at the time, Beinart correctly places her in the same political tradition as his “liberal” heroes, who forged “the dominant ideology in American public life” long before the neo-cons emerged. These “liberals” believed with FDR “that government should intervene in society to solve problems that individuals cannot solve alone.” And they zealously insisted that the U.S. should have, as I put it, “a muscular, hyper-activist foreign policy, one with all the multilateral trappings of UN resolutions and NATO-led coalitions, but stilldecidedly neo-colonial and inescapably in the service of Big Oil and the merchants of death.”
Hillary embodies this “liberal” imperialism and will do her best to groom the new political generation that sees itself as “liberal” to follow her into endless war, especially in the Middle East. That is why she is so dangerous. She can do what neo-conservatives and paleo-conservatives and theological conservatives never could. She can sell imperialism as a “liberal”, humanitarian imperative.
Domestically, before Obamacare, Hillary fought for something approaching universal health care, no matter how corporate and inadequate it was. By contrast, America’s number one neo-con, William Kristol, made his bones as a hard-ass Republican right-winger by leading the fight to destroy what she was trying to create. Which of them do you think will do better selling self-identified “liberals” on war?
No doubt, many neo-cons will support Hillary. Some will serve as her advisers, and one of their top leaders, Robert Kagan, has already started calling himself a “liberal” interventionist. He sees the future if Hillary becomes president, and he realizes she will build that future by drawing on what the Democrats did in the past, not on what the neo-cons said and did under George W. Bush.
Support for Israel? Woodrow Wilson, who preached “the self-determination of nations,” went along with Britain’s Balfour Declaration, offering Palestine as a homeland for the Jewish people. Harry Truman quickly recognized the new Jewish State, and whenever it counted, the Democratic Party has sided with Israel against the Palestinians.
Support for the Saudis? FDR forged Washington’s initial alliance with the Saudi monarchy to secure a supply of oil for the coming world war. Jimmy Carter funded the mujahideen, the holy warriors, months before Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, and pledged to defend the Saudis in case the Soviets extended their activism. His “Carter Doctrine” also committed the U.S. to use military force if needed to ensure the flow of oil and natural gas from the entire region.
The Cold War? Harry Truman certainly pumped it up in Greece in 1947, though historians have traced the conflict’s origins back through decisions made during FDR’s alliance with the Soviets in World War II and Woodrow Wilson’s decision to join allied troops to fight against the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918.
And Vietnam? The American “Friends of Vietnam”, the loudest cheerleader for interfering in the former French colony, was headed by a “New Deal” Democrat, Leo Cherne, who also ran the International Rescue Committee and served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Freedom House. Two of his strongest backers were Democratic senators John F. Kennedy and Mike Mansfield, who joined with New York’s right-wing Cardinal Spellman to help impose the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem to rule over the largely Buddhist South Vietnam.