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Sanders Should Challenge the Foreign Policy Status Quo


Sanders Should Challenge the Foreign Policy Status Quo

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Global economic troubles threaten our economy, a cold war heats up with Russia, the Middle East is aflame and 2015 was the hottest year on record, as climate change accelerates. Despite this, the presidential campaigns have offered little more than foreign policy by bumper sticker.


With the exception of his vote against the Iraq war, everything in Sanders’ record indicates he is pro-war, or, as liberals call it, ‘humanitarian intervention’ (AKA ‘humanitarian bombing’).

It is very late in the game for Sanders to suddenly challenge a status quo which he has loyally upheld for more than 2 decades.

I believe that is the true nature of the game we call elections.

You might think you are voting for all the groovy socialism stuff, but in fact you will be voting for bombs, bullets, and barbed wire.


By now it should be obvious to everyone including the editor-in-chief of the Nation that Sanders has little interest in foreign policy. When asked a foreign policy question he sometimes pivots to a class-based economic statement having nothing to do with question or when asked a foreign policy question on Afghanistan he immediately pivoted to a statement on ISIS in the Middle East. Former Secretary of State Madelaine Albright says she never saw him once at any of the foreign policy briefings she held. So clearly, to shift foreign policy Sanders is not the man. He knows his knowledge is very limited on foreign policy so basically he supports Obama’s policy. It would be nice to go back in time and not invade Iraq and perhaps not support the UK and France in bombing Libya (although it looked like not intervening would have resulted to a massacre) and not giving the Arab Spring rebels in Syria the impression that we would help them militarily but we can’t reverse time. I think we are committed to involvement for many years in this conflict between Sunnis and Shiites in the Middle East and what amounts to a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. What we should be asking the candidates are what do they plan to do about this. A shift in foreign policy will have to wait for the 2020 election. There is nobody running for a major party who advocates a major shift in foreign policy.


This is an excellent start of a discussion, Ms. vanden Heuvel, and I shall share it with fellow Bernie Supporters. Getting engagement through focusing on domestic economic issues still should come first, if only because they are the most connectable, but making the direct bridge from that to foreign economic issues (which inexorably involve the military industries) is an important, delicate step for the electorate. I believe the Sanders campaign can and will listen, at least by Super Tuesday.

Some on this site will prattle on about Israel (missing from your piece) or F-35 fighter jets (context matters), and I have faith that Sanders will (again) thoughtfully address those topics. Yes, Israel has the right to defend itself, but not to commit war crimes. Yes, it is threatened because of real estate and military profiteers are pillaging Palestine, which the Average Abraham denounces more and more; a better discussion can help us differentiate those two, just like we are doing here in the US. Any fanatical call to destroy or defend Israel is not very helpful to me. Enhancing the argument of “bloated military spending is bad” by describing real world scenarios and making them common knowledge the Average Joe, well that is a wonderful thing. We (at least Progressives and Non-voters) are hungering for more information, more context and less yelling and spin.

I am reminded of a recent episode of Redacted Tonight where Republican supporters had a lot of trouble coming up with specifics, even on positive questions, and Sanders supporters could… except when it came to foreign policy. they shifted defensible, just like supporters of any other candidate does when asked probing questions. If I were there, I would have shouted, don’t back away! These are actually valid questions, and if any candidate will take them seriously, it’s Bernie, as he’s proven. That’s the whole point of the Revolution! Sanders what’s himself held accountable, just like everyone else, in my opinion anyway.


Oh Katrina–has somebody spiked your truffles and pate with acid while you were absorbed in a chukker of polo down at Palm Beach with all your middle aged debutante and former Junior League member friends?!!
See Katrina, it’s like this dahling, foreign policy is the third rail in US politics. You touch that topic in any serious way and you will first of all be warned and if you then persist you will literally die (see Zapruder film–it’s on you tube honey bun!).
Now go run along and keep writing your usual drivel about how unfair everything is (as if we didn’t already know that) and let’s have no more blubbering about such dangerous ideas as speaking out on foreign policy. Your nice tax free foundation can be defunded you know.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


“Surely, after Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria, we should have learned enough to temper the interventionist inclination. The military is not designed for building nations or birthing democracies. Ironically, the generals are usually more cautious in its use than the hawkish civilians who have dominated our foreign policy circles.” [my italics - ww]

No indeed Ms. vanden Heuvel, the military is not useful for birthing nations or building democracies. But the military is very useful for amassing vast wealth, and for stifling dissent, debate and democracy at home.

Thanks to whoever it is here who keeps posting this James Madison quote:

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”


This is a false and dangerous frame, Ms. Vanden Heuval:

“She’s surrounded herself with advisers that are mix of neoconservatives and liberal “indispensable nation” advocates, all of whom share a strong belief in using American force as an instrument of good abroad.”

This idea of the neocons wishing to do “good abroad” is about as accurate as a pedophile loving children.

These people run the PR campaign for the Military Industrial Complex. They pave the way to make sure that the world is safe for corporate plunder… by making noise about spreading democracy. The pursuit of some noble ideal or great good is the cover story.

Obviously, since “by their fruits ye shall know them,” the bludgeoning of nation after nation, the orphaned children, the broken infrastructure, and the hordes of refugees TELL the story of what this “spreading of good” comes down to!


I can only hope that Bernie’s principled stands on people and Democracy will bring him to an understanding that the American Empire must be dismantled. I will vote for him on the faith that he will lead us there upon being elected as President.


Most of us would rather take Sanders over the naked bombast of Clinton, Jeb, Cruz, and Trump ANY day.

No candidate to the Left of Sanders has a shot at this time.

The nation has more right wing militia lunatics than Flap doodles, mr. “world in his own image and likeness.”


Always ready to let a shot out of your revolver, right?

As if YOU are in any position to know or understand the tactical decisions Mr. Sanders has made at this time.

As if it’s easy to talk to a nation divided as this one is and educate a public so long propagandized by pro-war lies?

Mr. Sanders gets almost everything right. If given a chance to change the calculus, there’s little doubt that he’ll dip into the MIC budget in order to pay for programs that MEAN genuine National Security: as in upholding a decent standard of living for all citizens!


Was that a typo intending to say the Average American, or were you referring to all followers of the 3 major Abrahamic religions?

In any case, fair-minded post.


Was this really necessary? Katrina seems to be moving to the Left now that the Dem. party is holding up an alternative to business as usual. THAT should be applauded.


Katrina is right. More specific questions on foreign policy should be presented in debates. I assume Bernie has someone advising him on these issues. I would expect his responses to questions on foreign policy to be intelligent and rational. He hasn’t sold me on his mastery in this area, but I want to hear more before too much longer. I want to be assured that whoever becomes president is determined to avoid WW3 and begin progress towards world peace.


just trying to be clever :slightly_smiling:


I have to disagree. Sanders will dismantle the MIC if he gets his way and removes money from politics. In contrast, if Sander’s comes out strongly against military intervention and subsequently it will be spun by the corporate pass as someone who hate sour troops. It’s a slippery slope and the average American still believes that terrorism is a greater threat than climate change. It is better to go after the root of the MIC (corporate bribery of government officials) than to go directly after the Pentagon.


Nice reply Siouxrose1. I agree that it is strategically foolish to try to take on the mIC at the same time. I also believe that Sanders will do the right thing in terms of changing foreign policy, if he is elected.


Wall Street, including its military industrial complex (mic) is at the peak of the global war pyramid, having purchased the right politicians to assure that eternal wars and occupations sustain eternal revenue for Wall Street and its mic.

Bernie’s platform that is focused on re-regulating Wall Street and breaking up the too big to fail banks challenges the war financiers…the two things that need to be done before any war and occupation reduction can be considered.

Bernie’s priorities confirm that he IS challenging the foreign policy status quo, Katrina.


Yup, I agree Katrina. Bernie has to challenge the status quo on foreign policy. If we want the revolution here at home it can’t help but have, and needs to have, a positive effect on US foreign policy in a progressive direction. We live in a globalized world and the movement for equity, justice, and sustainability does not stop at US boarders.


As a nation, we already HAVE challenges to our Foreign Policy on the “election trail.”

Ask yourselves WHY Ms. vanden Heuvel in asking quite important questions of policy related to this election cannot seem to MENTION the name of Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein actually DOES “Challenge the Foreign Policy Status Quo.”

If nothing else this MUST show us the negative effects of silencing “3rd party candidates.”

We as a People and Nation, stand to lose a lot of who we really are and what our potentials are, if the distorted and rigged media circus cuts off the voices with broader visions.

Katrina, where ARE you? Stand up for the BIGGER Picture and democratic access to varied opinions as you you call for a new look at Foreign Policy.