On 14 August, you are invited to "an audience"
with Bill Clinton. You have a choice. You can attend the "breakfast and
speech" or the "brunch buffet and speech." These will take place
in the white elephantine Millennium Dome, where a place in the "Kings’
Row" will cost you £799. Last year, Clinton made more than £5m granting
"audiences." Not only the usual corporate types attend. A few years
ago, I watched a conga line of writers, journalists, publishers and others of
liberal reputation shuffling towards his grotesquely paid presence at the Guardian
The Clinton scam is symptomatic of the death of liberalism – not its narcissistic,
war-loving wing ("humanitarian intervention"), which is ascendant,
but the liberalism that speaks against crimes committed in its name, while extending
rungs of the economic ladder to those below. It was Clinton’s promotion of the
former and crushing of the latter that so inspired new Labour’s "project."
Clinton, not Bush, was Cool Britannia’s true Mafia godfather. Keen observers
of Tony Blair will recall that during one of his many farewell speeches, the
sociopath did a weird impersonation of Clinton’s head wiggle.
Clinton is able to make a shedload a money because he is contrasted with the
despised Bush as the flawed good guy who did his best for the world and brought
economic boom to the US – the fabled American dream no less. Both notions are
finely spun lies. What Clinton and Blair have most in common is that they are
the most violent leaders of their countries in the modern era; that includes
Bush. Consider Clinton’s true record:
In 1993, he pursued George H. W. Bush’s invasion of Somalia. He invaded Haiti
in 1994. He bombed Bosnia in 1995 and Serbia in 1999. In 1998, he bombed Afghanistan;
and, at the height of his Monica Lewinsky troubles, he momentarily diverted
the headline writers to a major "terrorist target" in Sudan that he
ordered destroyed with an onslaught of missiles. It turned out to be sub-Saharan
Africa’s largest pharmaceutical plant, the only source of chloroquine, the treatment
for malaria, and other drugs that were lifelines to hundreds of thousands. As
a result, wrote Jonathan Belke, then of the Near East Foundation, "tens
of thousands of people – many of them children – have suffered and died from
malaria, tuberculosis and other treatable diseases."
Long before Shock and Awe, Clinton was destroying and killing in Iraq. Under
the lawless pretense of a "no-fly zone," he oversaw the longest allied
aerial bombardment since the Second World War. This was hardly reported. At
the same time, he imposed and tightened a Washington-led economic siege estimated
to have killed a million civilians. "We think the price is worth it,"
said his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, in an exquisite moment of honesty.
These days, you see Good Ol’ Bill, or the Comeback Kid, as he is variously
known, wiggling his head on the TV news, campaigning for his wife, Hillary,
among Americans who, terminally naive, still believe the Democratic Party is
theirs and that "it’s time to vote a woman into the White House."
Together, the Clintons are known as "Billary" and rightly so. Like
Good Ol’ Bill, Hillary wants to continue Iraq’s torment for perhaps a decade.
And she has "not ruled out" attacking Iran.
Those settling down in the Kings’ Row at the Millennium Dome on 14 August for
breakfast or brunch with GOB, having transferred another swag to the Clinton
bank account, are unlikely to reflect on the blood spilt and the epic suffering
caused, or on the moral corruption of the liberal ideology that courted and
acclaimed Clinton, along with the criminal Blair.
But we should.