THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hillary Clinton: Commie Symp?

Hillary Clinton is a commie symp.

That's a familiar line from the rabid right, which hasn't yet gotten the news that the Cold War is over. Google the secretary of state's name and "communist," and you'll get over a million links, some of them to neo-Nazi websites. Folks say the craziest things on the Internet. I just didn't expect the Washington Post to make the same argument.

In a recent editorial, the Post lambasted Clinton's speech on human rights in which she quite sensibly added "oppression of want" to the traditional concerns with the oppression of tyranny and torture. "Ms. Clinton's lumping of economic and social 'rights' with political and personal freedom was a standard doctrine of the Soviet Bloc, which used to argue at every East-West conference that human rights in Czechoslovakia were superior to those in the United States, because one provided government health care that the other lacked," the Post opined.

I can just visualize Hillary Clinton and her speechwriters over at State sifting through arcane historical texts for inspiration. They pull a book from the shelf. It's old and hasn't been touched in quite a few years. Is it Marx's Capital? Lenin's State and Revolution? No, it's the collected speeches of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In his famous "four freedoms" speech from 1941, FDR identified "freedom from want" as "economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world." Sounds a lot like "oppression of want" to me.

Or maybe Clinton and her team simply perused United Nations documents for inspiration. The concept of human security, which has been a staple of international politics for the last two decades, draws together threats to the political, economic, and military security of individuals and communities. The UN's 1994 Human Development Report defined human security as "safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease and repression" as well as "protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life -- whether in homes, in jobs or in communities."

The Human Security Network, meanwhile, brings together a number of countries that never belonged to the Soviet Bloc -- Canada, Austria, Mali, Costa Rica -- to explore comprehensive approaches to human trafficking, AIDS, climate change, and the like.

Or maybe the Clintonistas read our own Just Security report, which applied the human security approach to U.S. foreign policy. Hmm, FDR plus the UN plus Foreign Policy In Focus: That is a suspicious lineage.

The Post complained that the Obama administration, "working with friendly but unfree countries, [would] choose the easy route of focusing on development, while downplaying democracy." It cited Clinton's speech in Morocco on engagement with Islamic countries.

Strange, I don't remember the Post complaining about the Bush administration -- or any of its predecessors -- prioritizing economic relations with such undemocratic countries as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Washington has always downplayed democracy in order to secure access to oil and cement military ties with such countries. Now it may (or may not) downplay democracy in order to improve the lives of ordinary people. Obviously that's a more unpardonable sin.

We've seen the hard right dust off the language of red-baiting during the debates over health care, the economic stimulus, and the proposed jobs bill. Those views have leaked into the mainstream. Meanwhile, the terrorist-as-the-new-communist argument has lost its zing. After all, we are fighting overseas contingency operations, not a war on terror any longer. So, brace yourself for the new new anti-communism, which identifies "communist sympathizers" like Hillary Clinton as the real threat to America. Talk about boring old re-runs.

The Cold War is over. Long live the Cold War...

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