Monday, March 21, 2016

Bernie Sanders' Foreign Policy

I've seen now and again speculation on Bernie Sanders' foreign policy, or seeming lack thereof. Hillary Clinton supporters often use this as an attack against him, though I'd prefer a foreign policy of "*shrug* dunno" to Hillary's "let's just fucking bomb Iran already come on" policy. But according to the World Socialist Web Site, if you look at his voting record, his policy on war and military action is not that different from Hillary's.

The report goes on to detail the positions that Sanders has taken on a range of foreign policy issues, based on his voting record as a congressman and senator. His profile is typical of liberal Democrats, supporting the Clinton administration’s war against Serbia in 1999 and the Bush administration’s invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, while voting against the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Iraq in 2002. Sanders criticized Obama’s bombing of Libya in 2011—mainly because he did not seek congressional authorization—but backed his bombing of Iraq and Syria in 2014. 
Sanders is a down-the-line supporter of the state of Israel, repeatedly endorsing Israeli onslaughts against the Gaza Strip, most recently the savage bombardment of July-August 2014 which killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. At an August 2014 town hall meeting, Sanders notoriously demanded that audience members “shut up” when they questioned his support for Israel’s criminal actions.

If true, that all sucks pretty hard. Though I'm a bit unsure about the Israel thing. I've heard others say that he, at the very least, is less of a supporter of Israel's attacks on Palestine than any other candidate, and that claiming he's totally pro-Israel is antisemitism at work.

At yesterday's rally, Bernie did lament the war in the Middle East. If I remember right, he was asking why we're spending so much money on this war when we have so many sub-par inner city schools leaving black children without a decent education and funneling others into prisons.

Currently, his website has both a "War and Peace" section and a section declaring that war should be "the last option." It says, in part:

I support the agreement, and opposed the Republican’s resolution of disapproval, as I believe this approach is the best way forward if we are to accomplish what we all want to accomplish — that is making certain that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon – an occurrence which would destabilize the region, lead to a nuclear arms race in the area, and would endanger the existence of Israel.


It is my firm belief that the test of a great nation, with the most powerful military on earth, is not how many wars we can engage in, but how we can use our strength and our capabilities to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way.


That sounds exactly like the racist, imperialist, white savior nonsense that has created so much destabilization, unrest, and horribleness throughout the world. It goes on to say that Bernie will defend the U.S., blah blah blah.

The War and Peace section says this about Palestine:

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been one of the world’s most difficult and intractable disputes for more than sixty years. Moreover, the failure to resolve that crisis has helped fuel other conflicts in the region. Senator Sanders has long supported a two-state solution that recognizes Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and the Palestinians right to a homeland in which they control their political and economic future. 
The most recent violence in Gaza represented a particularly ugly and violent time in the dispute. Senator Sanders strongly condemned indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. However, while recognizing that Israel has the right to defend itself, he also strongly condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza as disproportionate and the widespread killing of civilians as completely unacceptable. 
The U.S. must play a leading role in creating a two-state solution, which will require significant compromises from both sides. The Palestinians must unequivocally recognize Israel’s right to exist, and hold accountable those who have committed terrorist acts. The Israelis must end the blockade of Gaza, and cease developing settlements on Palestinian land. Both sides must negotiate in good faith regarding all other outstanding issues that stand in the way of a durable and lasting peace in the region. In the meantime, strict adherence, by all sides, to the tenets of international humanitarian law is necessary in order to avoid escalating the conflict yet again.

So that contradicts the claim that Bernie supported the horrifically disproportionate attack by Israel upon the Gaza strip. However, it's true that Bernie's website says nothing about reducing military spending, which is disappointing. We absolutely need to slash military spending. We have no right to be this big military bully imposing our will upon other nations whenever we feel like it. Even when we claim that we're trying to help, we fuck things up, so.

Sanders is not only generally aligned with Obama administration foreign policy, he has refused to specify a single weapons program or Pentagon project that he would cut or eliminate if elected in 2016. He is a longstanding backer of the most expensive US weapons program, the $1.4 trillion F-35 fighter jet, some of which are to be based in Burlington, Vermont, his hometown. 
The so-called “socialist” has voted repeatedly for vast Pentagon appropriations bills, maintaining funding of the wars he was (rhetorically) opposed to, as well as funding for the CIA, NSA and the rest of the vast American intelligence apparatus, the infrastructure for police-state spying against the American people.

In conclusion, as I've said before, Bernie Sanders is no revolutionary, and though his presidency would be a step in a good direction, it wouldn't be a revolution and I understand the fear that liberals will become complacent under him when he's definitely another capitalist and seems to be another imperialist. He's not a real socialist. I can hope that increased tolerance for socialist-like policies will bring the nation farther left and improve things for many people, but I don't know. I still feel like this is our best option at the time, and I guess the best I can do is to keep demanding more and encouraging others to keep demanding more. And if we don't all die from global warming, maybe we'll find real justice.

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