Thursday, August 04, 2016


Political Mayhem Thursday: My Fears

I agree with many readers here that Hillary Clinton is likely to be less dangerous as president than Donald Trump. Still, though, I have fears either way.

First, I need to be up front about what matters to me. I can't say that I know and understand all of the important issues before us: global warming, terrorism, economic adjustments, income inequality, etc. They are all important. I don't want to diminish that.

There are two issues that are particularly important to me: I want the new president to develop a reformed process for  evaluating clemency petitions and avoid war. Those two are not equally important, obviously-- the second is more important, but I know more about the first.

Here are my fears:


If Hillary Clinton is elected, I fear that she will be too political and not principled enough to reform clemency. She is fundamentally cautious, and caution will lead to no change; we will continue on with a broken process that produces poor results. I also fear that she will pursue war, particularly in the first term. She will do so in close consultation with military leaders, at least, and I suspect that they might be able to talk her down.


I have little hope that Trump would reform clemency, unless somehow we could prevail on him as a businessman to improve a bad system. He just does not seem to even perceive issues at that level. Worse, I do fear that his ego would lead to war-- and that if it did, he would not listen to cautionary words from military leaders.

What do you fear? [Next week, I'll write about my hopes]

I fear that Trump will be elected, and that he will act in our foreign affairs with all the bravado and impulsiveness he has demonstrated in the campaign. I fear he will be goaded into a fight, and his ego and brash ways will escalate a bad situation to war. Perhaps Iran, North Korea, or Syria?

But my biggest fear is that he will issue illegal orders to the military. We are obligated to disobey unlawful orders, just as we are to obey the lawful ones. Will our generals have the guts to say to the president "No Sir, I will not follow that order?" If not, will the troops under them follow their conscience and disobey? And what haunts me the most, if they do not obey the unlawful order, will I have the strength of character to fight my superiors and not prosecute them for their disobedience?
My understanding is that Trummp has repeatedly questioned why we do not use tactical nukes in fighting ISIS. That means he does not understand the whole concept of deterrence and the internationally accepted (except perhaps Iran and N. Korea) "no first use" policy.
The risk of war under a Trump presidency is first and foremost in my mind, particularly since I have three "draft-age" children. Hillary's a hawk, but I agree that she would probably listen to the experts. Second fear is climate change. I have no worries about Clinton. I worry that Trump will reverse the progress that President Obama FINALLY made during his second term and cause irreparable harm worldwide.
Obama announced a large number of commutations yesterday. Your thoughts? He also said there were many more to come.

Ditto to what everyone else said . . . . More than the fear of who Trump would appoint to the Supreme Court (I don't think he cares enough about being conservative to necessarily appoint someone far-right), I fear he will bumble and bully his way around and get us into war pretty quickly, and war like we've never seen before.

I'm not sure what I fear about Hillary . . . that she will continue to be too cautious in many areas, including criminal-justice reform. I guess I fear she won't get anything positive accomplished, domestically.
One area where Clinton is not especially cautious is foreign affairs. It's her camp that wants to shove NATO and its missiles up Vladimir Putin's fundament. Some of you are old enough to remember when we invaded Cuba (because we did) in 1961, Russian tried to install missiles in Cuba in 1962 -- partly in response and partly to defend Cuba, in my opinion -- and we went crazy.

We Americans have defective empathy genes, I often think. But putting yourself in the shoes of your adversary is a very important skill that Hillary seems to lack. I blame Victoria Nuland, the cookie monster, I suppose, but she is a confidant of Hillary Clinton's.

Add this to Clinton's unbridled enthusiasm for what turned out to be the Libyan civil war, her uncritical support of Israel in the face of genocide on the installment plan in Gaza and on the West Bank, and the fact she seems to advocate a much deeper involvement in the Syrian civil war, I don't think that I agree that Donald Trump is the more dangerous candidate internationally.

He doesn't have a record, that's true, but Hillary has one, and I don't think it's a good one.
And we haven't even talked about HRC's Iraq vote or silence as Secy of State on the Honduran coup that has brought so many unaccompanied minors to the US; refugees she wants to return to Honduras, by the way.

And readers might want to have a look at this, too.
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