By Vijay Prashad. This article was first published on al-Araby

Comment: Clinton could become US’s first woman as president… but her politics suggest it would be business as usual for the war-mongering elite, says Vijay Prashad.

The US, the self-proclaimed beacon of social progress, has had 44 presidents but none has been a women.

Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, only the UK has had a woman as its top politician – Margaret Thatcher. The top political position in China, Russia, France and the US has never been held by a woman.

Many women in the Global South have occupied the top elected position in their country, starting with Sirimavo Bandarnaike in Ceylon in 1960, to Saara Kuugongelwa’s election in Namibia last month.

According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union the countries with the highest percentage of women in parliament are Rwanda, Bolivia and Andorra. The US is number 72, ranked between Kenya and Panama.

Clinton’s candidacy should be viewed in this context. There are many who would like to see a woman break the final glass ceiling and take the White House. But it is hardly history in a global sense, unless one believes it is only the US that can make history.

Clinton’s last run against Barack Obama allowed her to make “18 million cracks” in the glass ceiling, as she said, but it was not enough. 

Last time Obama broke the race barrier, maybe this time Clinton will break the gender barrier.

However her politics do not suggest she will break any moulds in US policy.

The video announcing her candidacy did not include any proposals to deal with the crises paralysing the US. Instead it showed people from different backgrounds living their lives. It was simply the politics of emotion.

But Clinton will not challenge the banking sector’s stranglehold on policy, nor change the US’s enthusiasm for war. And there is no serious candidate inside the Democratic party to challenge her.

Clinton’s Middle East

There is no left-wing in the party to challenge Clinton for voting for the illegal war in Iraq.

No one will question her for supporting Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon in 2006, or its pummelling of Palestinians. There will be no debate about her expanding the assassination by drone policy, a strategy that has caused chaos in Yemen.


Finally, there will be no discussion about her enthusiasm for the Nato war on Libya that caused chaos. Her callous statement after former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi died is stunning. “We came, we saw, he died,” she said laughing.

None of these debates will take place.

The Republicans who are more enthusiastic for war than the Democrats will not ask these questions. For them, Libya is reduced to the 2012 attack on Benghazi that killed the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens. They do not see the desolation caused by the Nato bombardment.

Neither will the Republicans – the US branch of the Likud Party – question Clinton’s animosity to the Palestinian cause.

When Israel bombed Lebanon in 2006, Clinton told a rally outside the UN headquarters in New York: “We are here to show solidarity and support for Israel. We will stand with Israel, because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones.”

There is some truth in her last sentence. Israel’s illegal war and war crimes have mimicked the US actions in Iraq. For Clinton these are shared US and Israeli values.

More importantly, no one is going to question Clinton’s role in spying on UN staff and the Palestinian leadership, detailed in a state department cable released by Wikileaks.

Clinton is often further to the right than the Republicans on issues of war. But this will not emerge as a serious issue during her campaign. She will cruise through to the presidency on the mood of her campaign and the illusion of a glass ceiling, aided by the Republicans’ tendency to nominate people who struggle with rationality. This is the great tragedy of US politics.

Vijay Prashad

Vijay Prashad is the Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Chief Editor of LeftWord Booksand Chief Correspondent at Globetrotter.