In a surprising intrusion into the 2016 presidential election, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Director, James Comey, issued a letter to Congress on Friday indicating that the Bureau is again investigating emails associated with Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state. Whatever the merits of the investigation, its announcement 11 days prior to the presidential election reveals deep divisions within the country’s ruling circles.
Comey said that the emails in question had been found in the course of an unrelated case, the F.B.I.’s investigation into former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner’s illicit text messaging to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina, and that the emails had been discovered on Weiner’s computer. Weiner is the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The contents of Comey’s letter are exceptionally vague and even suggest the F.B.I. may be overplaying its hand in going public with its investigation. The letter states that Comey has decided “to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” Comey goes so far as to confess that the F.B.I. “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.” That is quite an admission to have made just 11 days before the election considering the F.B.I’s longstanding tradition of withholding politically sensitive material from the public in the run-up to a presidential election. For her part, Clinton has demanded that the F.B.I. provide more substantive information regarding the emails, including whether they involve her use of a private server, which was at the center of the investigation closed by Comey in July with the determination not to bring charges against Clinton.
Comey’s letter is all the more puzzling given Clinton’s status as the political darling of the military-security complex. She has boasted of her more than 100 endorsements by former generals and promoted herself, vis a vis Donald Trump, as the national security candidate in the election. What then are we to make of a branch of the security state, the FBI, throwing a roadblock in front of Clinton’s campaign just a week and a half before the election?
The World Socialist Web Site cites one former Justice Department official who suggests that Comey had come under “intense pressure” from within the Bureau for his prior statement that no competent prosecutor would bring charges against Clinton over her use of the private server. The WSWS goes on to conclude that, if indeed there were such tension within the F.B.I., “sections of the federal police agency are in open revolt” against the candidate who may soon become “their nominal ‘commander-in-chief.’”
Whatever Comey’s political motives, his letter amounts to a flailing strike against Clinton and underscores a rift within the military-security state. Such a rift speaks of instability among the U.S.’s ruling elites in a time when those elites find themselves confronted with mounting crises. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, American think-tanks and their media pundits hailed a new era of freedom in a unipolar world. In other words, American imperialism would be free to establish global hegemony, mastering the world’s resources and markets. Central to this plan has been U.S. domination of the Middle East and Central Asia, where the U.S. military has been mired for the past 15 years and where it has acted out Washington’s madness in creating one major human catastrophe after another.
More than this, Washington has become hopelessly entangled in its own strings, from arming and supplying the Syrian version of al Qaeda to joining an Iraqi offensive against the Islamic State in the city of Mosul while at the same time tolerating the depredations of that force in Syria. In its machinations for world dominance, the United States—particularly candidate Clinton—has made clear its determination that it counts Russia among its enemies. From the Balkans to Ukraine to Syria, Washington has shown itself to be in a state of preparation for war against Russia, a war with a nuclear power that could be touched off at any moment by one bad decision or one accident in the skies above Syria.
Economically, the quest for American global dominance has been derailed by the ascendancy of China as the world’s most robust economic power. Unable to counter China’s economic power, the U.S. has increasingly turned to its military might in preparation for a confrontation with yet another nuclear power. Yet even these plans—President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”–have gone awry, as the Philippines’ President Duterte has rebuffed the U.S. in no uncertain terms and in effect offered the Philippines to China as a client state. Japan too, along with Australia Washington’s staunchest ally in the Pacific, has been warming to China and cooling its claims to disputed territory in the South China Sea, claims stoked by the U.S. in its attempt to intimidate China. The tensions between China and the U.S. only become more pitched as China struggles with its own share of the world’s economic crisis.
It is that crisis, the worldwide crisis of capitalism, that is sending tremors through and revealing fault lines within the American ruling class. Like a starving body, capitalism has begun to consume itself, with debt the foremost commodity and finance the leading economic activity. Such a system cannot long sustain itself. The 2007 economic crash was one symptomatic shock to the system, and it is only a matter of time before the next crash occurs. With no way out of the dilemma, the system is casting about for ways to save itself and, bound as it is to heavily armed nation-states, capitalism will no doubt turn to its traditional savior, war.
Whatever the F.B.I.’s motivation in challenging Clinton, it is not because she is the servant of Wall Street. In that regard, Clinton and the F.B.I. serve the same master. So, for that matter, does Donald Trump. The winner of the presidential election, whoever it is, will act in the interest of, in the attempt to save from an existential crisis, the plutocrats who truly rule this country. And whether it is with a punishing austerity (already evident in 2017’s skyrocketing insurance premiums), a cataclysmic war or both, the next president will prove to be a disaster for the American people and the people of the world.
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