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Bernie Sanders Just Gave His Best Speech in 2 Years


#1

Bernie Sanders Just Gave His Best Speech in 2 Years

Charles P. Pierce

There’s a lot of tsuris all over the place over the fact that Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar will be putting on a show-pony debate next week on CNN with the Clueless Twins, Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, on the subject of healthcare. Most of said tsuris revolves around the fear that the debate will get framed as Dog’s Breakfast vs. Eeek! Socialism!


#2

Glad to see that Sanders called out Russia and all the efforts underway to undermine Western democracy. If I have a criticism of Sanders it is that he avoids discussing the war in Afghanistan. He voted for the intervention in 2001. And that war continues and hasn’t gone well. He seems to avoid mentioning it for political reasons. He likes to talk about the war in Iraq which he voted against. I get it, Bernie Sanders after all is a politician. But we need voices on the left in the Senate to speak on Afghanistan. There seems to be no end game. I think Bernie Sanders should address this.


#3

Finally, Senator Sanders makes his long-awaited foreign policy position clear.

When you get beyond Bernie’s platitudes, he doesn’t offer much beyond the Bi-Party Line.

Sanders virtually identifies (“directly related”) foreign policy with military policy, but then quotes Eisenhower’s well-known lofty exit afterthoughts, following it with a rosy view of Churchill’s 1946 speech, which many consider as the Cold War gauntlet thrown down before the Soviets - emphasizing the same platitudes. Bernie falsifies the context of Churchill’s speech - he declares it was made against a backdrop of “a huge standing army, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons, with allies around the world, and with expansionist aims” - when the Soviet Union had been almost totally exhausted by WW2 in 1946 and had not even tested an atomic weapon until 1949.

The backdrop the Soviets faced looked to them like “a huge standing army, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons, with allies around the world, and with expansionist aims”; this was more true of the US, which suffered comparatively little in World War 2 and emerged as the world leader. After Churchill’s speech, it was clear to the Soviets that they had to rebuild their forces, pursue development of their own atomic bomb, and take many costly and unpopular measures. It resulted in the dangerous MAD (mutually assured destruction) impasse that by good fortune did not blow up in the world’s face. Echoing this history, the North Korea/US stand-off is similarly risky, and demands direction from putative progressives like Bernie Sanders. He gives none in his speech.

So with the Soviet Union out of the picture, Bernie is eager to name new enemies. With a passing reference to ISIS, he swings his truncheon at the current Bad Boy, DPRK (North Korea). His one-sentence paragraph says it all: “In recent years, we are increasingly confronted by the isolated dictatorship of North Korea, which is making rapid progress in nuclear weaponry and intercontinental ballistic missiles.” That is it - no attempt to illuminate why the DPRK is isolated, or why it should stoop to such drastic, dangerous, and costly (monetarily and politically) means of self defense. Certainly no mention of the fact that the US refuses to sign a peace treaty with them, has maintained crushing boycotts and sanctions for years (and enforced them with reprisals on countries violating Washington’s will in this matter), and constantly conducts provocative military maneuvers in conjunction with South Korean forces. In contrast to the DPRK, the sun never sets on US troops and military installations in foreign countries, some involved in actual shooting war at this moment. The North Koreans do not have military soldiers or bases anywhere, except in their own beleaguered country. Without a peace treaty and guarantee of normal conditions of commerce with other nations, the DPRK considers itself still at war with the US. You could expect Donald Trump not to understand this - thus his crude extermination threat at the UN was not really a surprise - but from Bernie Sanders, supposedly the highest positioned and brightest progressive in the US political firmament - it is a disappointing shock.

Later on in the speech, Sanders expresses approval for increased sanctions on DPRK. Sanctions and boycotts are a form of warfare, not diplomacy. Why is North Korea “isolated”? Because powers aligned with the US desire it, and want to induce “regime change”. Why does Bernie rate North Korea as “one of the worst regimes in the world” - when there are several other contenders in Africa, let alone our ally Saudi Arabia? The concept of “regime change” should be exposed by progressives, not toyed with as in Bernie’s speech.

And then Bernie tries to sell yet again the claim that Russia interfered (not just expressed its preferences) in our 2016 electoral process. No proof, simply assertion. He hews to the standard Bi-Party Line in never mentioning that other countries (Israel, Britain, Saudi Arabia, etc.) have much more actual and proven influence in American politics.

He does mention past US mideast meddling, especially instances going back to the 1953 interference in Iran’s politics. But the chronic Israel/Palestine issue is a current bleeding sore involving vast American aid and support for one party in the dispute, and this does not even rate a cameo appearance in Bernie’s speech.

Really disappointing - where do we go from here? I doubt we can depend on any new direction from Senator Bernie Sanders.


#4

I agree.

All the points in your post are correct.

On domestic issues Sanders leads the pack, since despite proclaiming himself a “socialist,” and being only a capitalist social democrat, he’s the only one in national politics.

But on foreign policy, he’s merely to the left of the hawks, which is not very far, except for rhetoric about placing law above might (but how does one enforce that law?).

However, the United States is not going to do any better in the near future. And a Bernie Sanders future is preferable to any of the alternatives out there with any possibility of success.


#5

One observable difference between the historical references and today is the FACT of corporations with powers exceeding those of nations, the non-nationalistic/amoral/immoral motivations and mushrooming mercenary presence.

I would submit that coherence of narrative as ‘a nation’ must appeal to principles, with examples that build - through discourse. This becomes much clearer when the foreign policy speech is heard in tandem with the health care speech.

Can it be done? A lot depends on whether or not the people in this country can transcend the manipulations and fight for a nation of REAL representation.

A lot of hay has been made about a ‘dumbing down’’ of the people, but right now HEART and COHERENCE as scaleable community far exceed cleverness in what is needed to make the fabric whole and resilient.


#6

Myopic selective nitpicking from suspect apologist for the drug murderer and popular fascist, Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte, while criticizing Sanders for perceived speech/communication failures…

Sanders says what others will not but must be politic or risk fracturing the coalition needed to end trump/R’Con regime rule and effect progressive change in health care to universal single-payer, canning the insurance parasites, financial usurers, environmental exploitation/rape, racist police brutality, MICC for-profit war-machine and much more - one must read between the lines.

Sanders stood-up to AIPAC and criticizes Netanyahu, but isn’t stupid enough to confuse those right-wing Israeli tools with Judaism per se or alienate other powerful opposition…Sanders must rally progressives, independents. Like all politicians he has warts and isn’t perfect.

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need”.


#7

Jerry-

I also agree - Bernie is indeed a politician and not a man on a white horse. That he may be the best we have is a somewhat dubious celebration.


#8

I’m also disappointed that he felt the need to play the Russian boogeyman card and, yes, I would have liked to have seen a statement on Afghanistan and stronger language concerning Palestinian rights, but, overall, I agree that this was a speech long overdue for Sanders. A concise foreign policy position was an element MIA in his primary campaign. I’m wiling to take as a start and see where it goes, at least.


#9

Emphyrio - we have disagreed in other posts about Rodrigo Duterte being a “drug murderer and popular fascist”, but that is not the topic. Here we are indeed concerned with speech/communication failures in Sanders’ foreign policy statement.

More serious than his occasional verbal criticism of Israeli policy, it should be noted that Sanders is against the BDS movement. See https://bdsmovement.net/ Mention of of his position was also absent from his foreign policy speech, as was anything else dealing with Israel. Why?


#10

And yet Bernie does not seem to care the primaries were rigged. Just the groundless non fact story of Russian interference.


#11

Regarding anxieties about the debate on CNN about healthcare, I believe they are misplaced. Any time that Sanders has the chance to debate in a major venue, his ideas gain more traction. Of course CNN will not treat him fairly, and of course they’ll try to pretend that Sanders should just “sit down with Republicans” and find some solution that is “workable solution” that will be tax cuts for the wealthy with a few crumbs for us, the plebes. But we still need him to gain national exposure, and let’s not forget, that even with the scant coverage he got during the campaign from the MSM, he still impressed enough people to be the popular serving politician in America, according to a recent poll.


#12

@riccotelaly: just as Democrats essentially did nothing with the overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Ohio in 2004 (to name the most egregious example), I believe Sanders is calculating that complaining about this now gains him nothing. Democrats actually could try to take steps to make what happened in Ohio less likely, but what does Sanders gain by complaining about his treatment by the Democratic Party? As it is, he has arguably become the Party’s most prominent spokesperson, and inarguably its most popular public face.


#13

In addition to Ohio in 2004, the Democrats failed to demand a recount in Florida during the 2000 election.

Guess they figured that as long as they could scapegoat Nader for Gore’s loss, why bother to demand a Florida recount.


#14

I am an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and the BDS movement as a tool against the racist war criminal entity Israel. They have subverted our elections, bought politicians and Congress more than any other nation!

I am disappointed/disgusted that Sanders should demean himself and betray his supporters and his own integrity by denouncing BDS and support Israeli racist extremism, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and wholesale murder.
Loyalty, especially to religion or culture is a powerful motive/force, but even that does not justify defending the indefensible. That said, there must be radical change or we are all buggered with our pants on. Sanders is doing service building the opposition he has always said must be the people’s, that he is not a savior or king. I give him credit for energizing and empowering progressive forces for real change, even if he is not perfect…it is our job to challenge and/or denounce him for failure to be what he must…I do not have illusions he is without fault…a perfect candidate is not now in play…Sanders will be supported and pressured strongly to change and become more responsive and radical, by me and hopefully millions more until a better candidate and energizer steps up to the plate…peace.


#15

Punishment for a crime is a deterrent. The DNC if not punished will cheat him or a similar progressive again. Crime without punishment acknowledges a sovereign criminal class. For a man who pontificates justice/democracy to also be for sovereign criminality - just doesn’t wash.

His popularity wins him nothing.

This notion of not looking back - Obama with Wall Street & Bush/Cheney - is proffered/ disguised as high minded but it is actually a pass for criminal behavior. And it reeks of complicity - driving the get away car- by Obama/Sanders.

The DNC stole an election!!! Pin them to the mat put your foot on their throats and don’t let up. Anything less is unacceptable.

What is gained is a full evisceration of those responsible and control over process. Sanders doesn’t need to convince corporate democrats he needs to eradicate them by any means.

Otherwise the lesson learned is screw the voters and cheat and get away with it. They will do it over and over again.

Those who cheat are vicious animals - extermination from the political process is required. Clear the field.


#16

The best thing we can do to promote democracy, tolerance, and respect for human rights abroad is to set an example of those things here in the United States. We have to understand (and I believe, on balance, that Bernie does understand) that “internationalism” should mean that we participate fully in the affairs of the world, promoting those principles we cherish, while observing international law and respecting the sovereignty of other nations.


#17

He’s still part of the “establishment” is why the beat up over Russia and other doozies of the Democrats, now in my mind every bit as toxic as the GOP continues. Worse probably as the GOP hasn’t betrayed its base which the Dems did. The railing against “socialism” is a false flag. Socialism is alive and well in the USA for the wealthy who get the state to pick up the tab for their mistakes. His understanding of macroeconomics is as dismal as the rest of them. Only Trump said the fed can never run out of money, which I hope he acts on, but for most of us the household analogy is the core belief [that the government has to tax and borrow before it can spend]. This is impossible but that hasn’t stopped the pollies from braying about it. Sanders, if he chooses to know this, will be the ideal candidate for change.


#18

While I am a Bernie supporter I am very disappointed to hear him complain of Russia interfering with US elections when he won’t even call out the Democratic Party for far greater levels of election fraud.


#19

I mostly concur with your comment. Sanders’ foreign policy positions were never the wet dream of progressives, but his domestic policies are most definitely superior to any other politician with any traction. I support him for the very simple reason that we need to get our domestic house in order so we can move on to our foreign policy. (Here’s the household budget. How much money is needed to run the house? How much is left over to help out our neighbors? Not the other way around.)

Sanders is a supporter of a two-party solution and recognizes the occupation. He’s opposed to BDS because of connections, whether true or false, to anti-semites. His non-approval of the tactic shouldn’t be confused as non-approval of the Palestinian right to exist, or as opposition to a Palestinian state. When one considers that he comes out of a Hebrew heritage, his is a far better position than most elected Democrats and Republicans, although it doesn’t go far enough for my liking (or for the Palestinians for that matter).

It really does say something when he chooses people like James Zogby and Cornel West as his representatives on the DNC platform committee, though.

I’ll be right next to you, pushing him along, because Sanders is the best thing to happen for the American left in years. He’s not perfect–no one is–but he’s the best we’ve had in a long, long while.


#20

O the bright side, financial contributions to the DNC have dropped considerably: