Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash (2015) and the documentary (2016) of the same name do more than damn the Clintons. To accept its general premises means acknowledging that Hillary and Bill Clinton are probably the greatest political felons in American history, the Watergate scandal is child’s play in comparison. The only commensurate situation I can think of is the Lance Armstrong fraud as revealed in Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story (2014), a deception racket built on the high-sounding rhetoric of saving the world from cancer combined with a form of ambition and venality that knows no bounds.
The Clintons’ treachery, according to Clinton Cash, is of another magnitude again to Stop at Nothing, though a similar dynamic is at work. The Clinton Foundation, in its original configuration, was founded in 1997 to “strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence”. The Clintons portray their non-profit charitable organisation as a humanitarian instrument for ameliorating world hunger, ending Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW), alleviating HIV Aids, empowering women globally, addressing modern-day obesity, and so on. The Foundation, as it characterises itself, brings together “innovative partners” – foreign governments, international business and non-government organisations – to help resolve the world’s problems.
How, we might dare to ask, could a non-profit philanthropic organisation be anything other than a good thing? In the case of Haiti, which experienced a terrible earthquake in 2010 that resulted in the deaths of somewhere between 85,000 and 316,000 people, the Clinton Foundation has been a conduit of international reconstruction aid. The Foundation’s website explains their accomplishments in Haiti this way:
In our effort to support local artisan businesses, the Foundation’s Haiti program developed a unique full-cycle investment that looks at the entirety of target value chains for Haitian business, bringing together producers, investors, and markets in a way that is socially, environmentally, and economically impactful. These closed-loop investments provide support to Haitian businesses, connect producers and buyers, and promote economic diversification and scale at all stages of product and business development.
How could things go wrong with “unique full-cycle investment” and “closed-loop investments”? Indeed, Jake Sullivan, who worked in the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state and now advises her in a private capacity, made this statement to the press earlier in the year when Bernie Sanders’ left-wing populist insurrection began to bite: “Hillary Clinton is extremely proud of the work she and her team have done since the earthquake.”
Schweizer’s documentary takes a very different line. It asserts that the Clintons’ involvement has been not so much about the reconstruction of a society already on its knees before the calamitous earthquake, but the emergence of a new model of Third World exploitation that would give some of the old world colonial powers a run for their money. Clinton Cash makes much of the fact that the Clinton Foundation, during the Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, was involved in projects on the other side of the island from the earthquake. While 390,000 Haitians in the vicinity of Port-au-Prince languished in tents one year after the earthquake, 366 farmers – in a region not affected by the earthquake – were forced off their properties to make way for the Caracol Industrial Park. Schweizer’s argument is that, under the guise of government-business-NGO philanthropy, all the wrong people have made a killing. If this makes him sound like no more than a Breibart-associated partisan – he does, of course, write for that organisation – then read this 2012 piece by Deborah Sontag in the New York Times on the genesis of the Haiti’s industrial park.
Clinton Cash makes mention of Tony Rodham, consultant and businessman and youngest brother of Hillary Clinton. Rodham proposed a private $22 million deal to invest in housing reconstruction for the devastated nation with Clinton Foundation money. The Foundation denies having known anything about the proposition, which never went through, but nobody is contesting – including the New York Times – that “Mr Rodham was added to the advisory board of a company that owns a gold mine in Haiti”. The New York Times, again, had a very informative (and disturbing) piece on Tony Rodham in 2015 appropriately titled, “Tony Rodham’s Ties Invite Scrutiny for Hillary and Bill Clinton”.
It would be erroneous, however, to think the Clinton Foundation involves corruption as we have typically come to understand it. Tony Rodham’s adventures in Haiti alert us to the nepotistic dimension of the Clinton Foundation, but the implications of the Clintons’ “philanthropic enterprise” defy traditional classifications. For instance, some have argued that as little as 10 percent of the Clinton Foundation’s billions have found their way to designated projects, and yet a charity watchdog, the American Institute of Philanthropy, insists that the figure is closer to a respectable 89 percent. Likewise, in the conservative blogosphere of late there has been anticipation that that the IRS is about to investigate the Clinton Foundation for tax irregularities. I doubt that the elusive Clintons would be careless enough to make those kinds of errors.
To start with, neither of the Clintons is paid a wage from their foundation’s dividends and so the question of rorting the taxation system – in that sense, at least – is mostly beside the point. That, however, does not rule out the presence of a giant swindle. The funds for the rebuilding of Haiti were mostly channelled through the Clintons and yet, after five years, there was little to show for all those charity apart from some roads being “considerably better” and the removal of a “large amounts of debris”. The Clinton-led recovery on Haiti has, for the most part, been a “massive failure”, an exception being the aforementioned Caracol Industrial Park. Built at a massive cost to American taxpayers, the factory in Haiti provided 3,000 rather than 60,000 jobs for locals. The main beneficiaries of this “philanthropic enterprise” are prominent US retailers, all of them Hillary Clinton donors, who import low-cost clothing products: “In sum, little of the money that has poured into Haiti since the 2010 earthquake has ended up helping Haitians. And how that money was spent was largely up to the Clintons”. Schweizer calls it “Disaster Capitalism”.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have acquired a vast personal fortune since leaving the White House but not because of the billions bestowed upon the Clinton Foundation by Russians, Colombians, Saudis, Kuwaitis, Indians, Africans and so forth. The scam is a little more sophisticated than that. Obama’s advisers, according to Schweizer, knew Bill Clinton’s highly renmunerated lectures might pose problems for Hillary Clinton if she were to be secretary of state, which is why the White House made her sign a memorandum of understanding regarding transparency and conflict of interest before she took up the post in January 2009. Secretary of State Clinton’s immediate acquisition of a private email server and her subsequent deletion of some 30,000 emails from her time in office had nothing – I repeat – nothing to do with any scheme to defraud the United States of America. As the FBI’s Mr Comey assured the American people on June 5, the disappearance of the evidence – sorry, emails – was no more than Hillary Clinton being “extremely careless”.
The Obama administration had every reason to be concerned about the potential conflict of interest between Hillary Clinton the public servant and Bill the private entrepreneur. Consider, for example, the 2008 US-India nuclear deal. President Clinton, back in 1998, had reacted with fury to a series of five underground nuclear tests carried out by the Indian government in defiance of the 1970 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). The First Lady also made her displeasure known at the time. Bill subsequently imposed restrictions on the export of nuclear technologies to India to keep “the lid on Indian nuclear and ballistic missile technology”. Senator Hillary Clinton, up until at least 2006, followed the same standard “progressive” position she and her husband maintained during his presidency.
In 2008, however, Hillary played a major role in persuading the Democrats in the Senate to pass a US-India nuclear deal that lifted sanctions. Apologists, naturally, see nothing untoward in the “evolution” of Hillary Clinton’s thinking on the subject. Maybe so – but Schweizer’s Clinton Cash documents an unprecedented bonanza in donations from politically connected Indians between 2006-08. Moreover, in the lead up to the congressional vote, Bill made a satellite video address to a media conglomerate in India for $150,000 and a speech at a charity gala in London, organised by an Indian-American millionaire benefactor of the Clinton Foundation, Sant Chatwal, for a cool $450,000. Though he made his fortune after migrating to the United States, Chatwal is described by Schweizer as “a staunch Indian patriot” who still refers to India as “my motherland”. The populist accusation – common to both the Sanders and Trump camps this election cycle – that “insiders” have commandeered America’s liberal democracy for their own nefarious purposes reverberates louder with each new Schweizer revelation: “When Hillary ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007, [Sant Chatwal] was co-chair of her presidential exploratory committee.”
Certainly Bill Clinton did very well on the speaking circuit during the period of Hillary Clinton’s secretaryship (2009-13). Schweizer’s investigative expertise allows him to link dots and uncover the pattern that eluded other investigative journalists. In April 2011, to take one instance, the Swedish telecommunications firm Ericsson was identified by the State Department as supplying equipment, including surveillance technology, to repressive regimes such as Belarus. In fact, clamping down on the sale of telecom equipment to repressive regimes, not least the Islamic Republic of Iran, became something of a cause célèbre in Washington throughout the year 2011.
Ericsson had not sponsored Bill Clinton for ten years when they paid him $750,000, on November 12, 2011, to speak at a telecom conference in Hong Kong about the benefits – in “general terms” – of telecom in our everyday lives. Bill Clinton never earned anything like this money before or since, his one-hour “insights” usually fetching between $100-200,000. On December 8, 2011, Secretary of State Clinton acknowledged the need for Ericsson to make “good decisions” in the future but left it at that. President Obama, in April 2012, signed an executive order imposing sanctions on telecom sales to the Islamic Republic but that “did not cover Ericsson’s work in Iran”. No problem, apparently, because Ericsson was planning to “scale down its work in the country” – except, surprise, surprise, internal documents obtained by Reuters “found that the company planned to honour existing contracts in Iran.”
Given her record of untrustworthiness, Candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) struggled to see off Bernie Sanders’ left-wing populist insurgency during the 2016 Democratic primaries. Sanders had presented himself as the little person’s redeemer, the would-be protector of “outsiders” betrayed by corrupt “insiders”. WikiLeaks, on the eve of the Democratic Convention, released hacked emails that showed poor old Bernie had been right all along. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) leadership team was shown to have colluded with Team Hillary and Mainstream Media. Here appeared confirmation that the “system”, as both the left-wing and right-wing populist movements in America have kept insisting, is rigged.
The corrupt cabal that currently rules – and betrays – America and the entire West is not going anywhere. Hillary Clinton magnanimously invited the supporters of Sanders to put aside their acrimony and get with the strength. Bernie, who had always been too gentlemanly – or should we say too PC? – to confront Clinton on the meaning of the private server and the deleted 30,000 emails, now meekly submitted. Hillary Clinton has not participated in a proper news conference for over nine months and yet over and over again, during the televised Democratic debates, Bernie Sanders passed up the opportunity to address the record of the woman in the spotlight immediately adjacent to him. His faint-heartedness, we could conclude, amounts to a form of complicity.
In the light of the WikiLeaks revelations, the only option open for the Clinton campaign, at that point, was to blame the messenger. President Obama lent a hand by joining with the DNC officials to accuse the cyber warfare branch of Russia’s military intelligence (GRU) for the leaks. Vladimir Putin, in other words, had meddled in American politics and the GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump, was the beneficiary – ipso facto, Trump is the great betrayer of American democracy. Nice try. Nobody, of course, has substantiated the claim. But this does bring us to perhaps the most alarming chapter in Schweizer’s Clinton Cash, “Hillary’s Reset: The Russian Uranium Deal”.
Senator Clinton once opined that Vladimir Putin “doesn’t have a soul”, but as secretary of state she led the charge to “reset” relations era between the US and the Russian Federation. Though Hillary had been on record as opposing Russian investment in America’s uranium industry, in 2010 she began to “evolve” her position. Schweizer asks why: “Could it be because shareholders involved in the transactions had transferred approximately $145 million to the Clinton Foundation or its initiatives?” Or, perhaps, because Bill Clinton, in June 2010, was in Moscow to present “a well-compensated speech” – $500,000 – organised by a firm called Renaissance Capital, which is “registered in Cyprus” and “populated by Russian intelligence officers with close ties to Putin”. Right there we might found the real betrayers of American democracy.
Daryl McCann, a regular Quadrant contributor, blogs at http://darylmccann.blogspot.com.au/ He is newly on Twitter