Though otherwise impressed by his bold positions on economic inequality, climate change, and getting money out of politics, progressive campaigners on Thursday presented presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders with a demand that he take a much stronger position against U.S. militarism, endless war, and a bloated Pentagon budget that directly impedes the other social investments for which he so strongly advocates.
I've been enthusiastically watching Bernie surge ahead in the polls; I like what he is saying on domestic policy. However, the article is spot on. Until he addresses foreign policy with the same candor and honesty, he's only running on half a platform.
The time to come clean on foreign policy is, now, before the debates. He won't be able to dodge the issue in the debates and there he will be boxed into giving a one minute answer.
I understand his dilemma. A great deal of his support will evaporate. overnight, should he appear to be just another Democratic signing off on the war machine. Nevertheless, his campaign will have to address the issue at some point.
I hope Bernie steps up to the plate on this. Those who would be put off by talk of reducing our foreign entanglements/militarism/military budget aren't going to vote for him anyway.
An examination of where Bernie Sanders stands on America's political prisoners and exiles reveals a gaping chasm - not a mere blind spot. He refuses to pledge any kind of pardon or amnesty for Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden (straddling the issue by saying Snowden "deserves leniency," but that it should be left up to the courts).
Sanders has nothing to say about the slow-motion execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal taking place right now. He even voted to extradite Assata Shakur from Cuba. This shows a preference for the police narrative.
People will say that any presidential candidate who breaths the name "Mumia" would be unelectable. But it could be that Sanders is unelectable anyhow, and that his avoidance of revolutionary discourse at his huge rallies is a wasted opportunity to raise consciousness in this country.
I agree in general with the concern that Sanders has not fully addressed this issue, and needs to do so and do so more clearly and strongly. I saw him speak in SC last weekend and did hear him address the issue twice, however. At one point he noted that we should not be fighting ISIS when nations in the area need to address their own concerns with ISIS first. During the questioning period, two people with military connections (one a veteran, the other active duty) asked about the military budget. He discussed at some length his concerns with the military budget, and the corruption of private contractors inflating that budget in legally invisible ways; and noted specifically that he wanted the budget to cover the needs of personnel, both retired and active duty instead of supporting expensive uncalled-for weapons systems. Both questioners appeared satisfied with his responses. That was not, of course, in the stump speech itself. It's fair to call him out on the questions; I have confidence the answers will be forthcoming and progressive.
From Chris Hedges:
Bernie has also not confronted the military industrial complex at all. On a personal level, having spent seven years in the Middle East, I’m just not willing to forgive him for abandoning the Palestinians and giving carte blanche to Israel. He was one of 100 Senators who stood up like AIPAC wind up dolls and approved Israel’s 51-day slaughter last summer of Palestinians in Gaza — the Palestinians who have no army, no navy, artillery, mechanized units, command and control.
While a discussion of all the issues is very important, it is also very true that the more specific, and the more "leftist" his views seem, support from moderates will drop away. If he is to have any real hope of actually getting the democratic nomination, he will have to have a degree of moderate support.
But if achieving your goal (in this case winning the White House) requires you to ignore or dissemble ugly truths, then dishonesty is baked into the achievement.
"Triangulation" and "spin" are just ingredients in such recipes, and we see the long-term trajectory of the political economy ever-further from the truth. Better to speak the truth and seek to shift consciousness.
Foreign policy is absolutely key and the first two posts under "As Obama's War in Iraq and Syria Rumbles On, Are Intel Books Getting Cooked?" hit the nail on the head, and clearly give testament to this. They are summarised with "This paradigm based ON war and militarism is a CANCER and it must be excised, if not exorcised!" (SR) and "It all is a major contributor to the ongoing worsening of everything" (SUFF). Even if Bernie were to win, he will be able to do only so much, because the President will not be able to change things so much.
Problems with Bernie Sanders foreign policy have been obvious to me all along. Thats why I upvoted posts that brought attention to this but also upvoted posts that point out that Bernie seems to be the best person with a chance that has come along in a long time, and as such, we should give him our support. I might prefer Nader or the Greens, but those are very long shots and the alternatives being fielded range from bad to terrible, and ending up with terrible is a real possibility, not just an empty threat. Bernie is the best you have had in a long time, and the best you are likely to get.
But more than that, it is not clear that Bernie can win. Numbers at the ralleys are great, but most people get their opinions from the TV and radio, in my experience, and breaking that will be very hard. As far as I know, the democracy is closed. If Bernie actually wins, then I will have been proved wrong. I would be happy to be proved wrong, and will thoroughly congratulate all involved. Even if I am correct, he is at least forcing Hillary to triangulate hard to the left for the primaries, (pulling the entire field with her), before she triangulates hard to the right after winning the primaries.
I get to live (or suffer) the resulting empire, but I dont get to campaign or vote. Get behind him, and good luck.
I don't see Bernie having a 'blind spot' on this issue at all. His anti-war message and view that we focus on domestic issues rather than policing the world has been consistent, like every other issue, for the last 40 years.
Does Roots Action not have access to Bernie's numerous speeches in Congress over the last 20 years where he rails over and over again against militarism?
I am one of the 25,000 plus who signed early on and also a monetary contributor to Senator Sanders (because of his stance on those issues he does address). Additionally, I wrote directly to him through his campaign web site; but, did not receive a response.
We will see if and in what manner he responds.
Depending on his (non)answer, I will keep my voting options open.
Not really a blind spot, but a shrewd politician, like Bernie, knows the parameters of whose toes he can step on and whose toes mean political suicide or could even mean personal assassination.
I didn't know about Sanders voting for the extradition of Assata Shakur from Cuba. Folks, this is outrageous. If you've read Assata and looked into her case (Democracy Now! for starters), you might feel how unacceptable it is for him, for any US Senator, to advocate for such an extradition, which very easily could mean her murder or slow-motion killing by the US injustice system. Not that her life is any more important than the lives of the Gazans Sanders does not value when he downplays Israeli "excessive" (the most condemnatory term I heard him use) actions while emphasizing that Hamas doesn't even want Israel to "exist," that Hamas fires indiscriminate rockets into Israel, etc., while ignoring the fact that those who actually ceased to exist in last summer's Israeli assault were way overwhelmingly Palestinian, and in many terrible ways paid for by US taxpayers. Not that Gazans' lives are any more important than those of the hundreds of thousands or millions of Iraqis who have perished even more directly from our US war machine that grinds on and on until we find a way to stop it. Hooray for a more public effort to hold Sanders accountable for his public record on the US war machine. If he's going to be most prominent "left" option, then the US left needs to push him to represent a much truer vision of change.
Yeah, if Bernie was any kind of decent leftist he would say much of what you write and then publicly pour gasoline over himself and light a match.
Voiced generalities are one thing, votes by a US Senator are another. Sanders supported the US war on Kosovo, the US invasion of Afghanistan, voted to fund the war on Iraq, and has kept quiet on US funding Israel's apartheid state and deathly occupation. And I just learned he voted to extradite Assata Shakur. These are not peaceful actions. He should explain these things, and explain how he sees the light now and will do very differently, beginning with adopting a clearly pro-peace, de-militarization platform. Otherwise, all those "numerous speeches" were just for getting votes.
If you are looking for "Dismantle the military!" or "Throw Israel in the Hague!" you will not get it from Sanders.
You will get an answer that you will not like, because Sanders likes to be honest about very complex situations, which is impossible to boil down to a bumper sticker or take a particular 'side'. So most of you will hate it.
He supports a two state solution. He supports any nation to defend itself. He supports jobs.
Yes the campaign focus started with economic populism, then expanded to speak on institutional racism, and will expand to speak on MIC, and other things as the tent expands. You know, the Democratic party as we want it, not as it is now. And who will help 3rd parties the most? Sanders is pushing for national election holiday, public financing, and automatic registration, and I will push him for repealing voter ID laws, moving to an Approval Voting system.
"the center of political gravity in both the US and the UK these days has moved so far to the right that you have to be a radical merely to be a decent human being."
Keep up the good work people! If you seek our vote you must speak to our issues!
Please sign the petition. Go Bernie!
Like others, I hope Bernie's foreign policy positions will be much more progressive, particularly related to the Middle East. At the same time, I also compare what Bernie says with what he opponents say. Pretty much only Jill Stein (Greens) has excellent foreign policy positions. Clinton and the repubs are at best similar to Bernie but more likely way worse. So when it comes time to choose who to vote for, I'll factor that comparison into the equation.
And would Hillary or Biden or Trump or (?) say anything about the military and their bloated budget and the fact that we have lost every major war since 1960. Trillions of dollars wasted. Bernie has to come clean on the War Machine and Empire Building. I support Bernie and have contributed to his campaign. I have a bumper sticker on my car. Please Bernie...say something about the militarization of our country.
Note: I am an ex-Vietnam veteran. I have learned to hate wars.
Looking solely at someone's voting record is not always an accurate reflection of that person's views as many bills are riders on other bills so it's a question of compromising on one bill to get another done. I'm confident Sanders will be able explain why he voted for something that on the surface appears to contradict his views.
You're right, it comes down to a question of trust. I didn't trust Obama enough to vote for him in 2008, but I do trust Sanders enough to do so next year, because I still see him as an independent who is fighting both parties. (If he isn't the Democratic candidate, I'll write in someone else because I sure as hell don't trust Hillary or Biden if he runs).
The Democratic party will be doing all they can to stop Sanders from being their candidate, and as this process plays out Bernie's integrity will win over more skeptics, like yourself and Chris Hedges, when it becomes clear that he has not capitulated to the corrupt 2-party political system but has fomented a revolution from within.
Liberal Warmonger? Did you have a lobotomy lately? Are you a tea party troll? Are you a Trump supporter? Liberals and progressives are not war mongers. We are out in the street protesting wars (no one listens). Bernie Sanders is not a war monger.
I have read your rants before and find you a very negative and cynical thinker. Cynicism is used to make your ego feel superior to us liberals and progressives. It's also used as an excuse to do nothing but whine. I feel sorry for you. Take a walk in the forest and sit by a river. Regain a little positive thinking. Things are not as bad as you suppose. Bernie Sanders 2016