Wednesday, November 12, 2014

BERNIE SANDERS NEEDS TO SPEAK OUT MORE ON FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES

In a recent excellent interview conducted by Bill Moyers on his “Moyers & Company” program, possible presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders did not say one word about foreign policy. Of course, that omission was due to the questions that were asked. The topic of the program was big money in politics, but certainly foreign policy needs to be brought into the picture.

The fact is that what distinguishes liberals (in the good sense of the word) like Sanders and positions further to the left is in the area of foreign policy. Liberals like Sanders have excellent positions on health, education and inequality. But, in the first place, they deemphasize foreign policy as a topic, when in fact foreign policy issues are as important (in my opinion even more so) than domestic ones. If you want to see what I’m talking about, check out liberal magazines such as “The Nation,” “In These Times” and the “Progressive” and you’ll see very little coverage on foreign issues and those pieces that are published are usually restricted to human rights concerns, but virtually nothing on U.S. intervention. In the second place, when issues such as U.S. intervention in third-world countries are dealt with, liberals (the good ones, that is) usually take wishy-washy stands. Moveon.org,’s discussion of the current Mid-East mess, for instance, stresses the demand that the Obama administration go to congress to request backing for any action it takes. Not one word about how U.S. unconditional support for Israel and its invasion of Gaza ends up stoking resentment and thus contributing to terrorism (which is not meant for one second as a justification of the barbaric actions of ISIS).

If Sanders is to run for president (and I hope he does) he needs to address seriously foreign policy issues and courageously adopt progressive critical positions, regardless of the flack he will undoubtedly get from the corporate media.

1 Comments:

At November 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM , Blogger Arnold August said...

One cannot over-emphasize the need for liberals taking positions on foreign policy. The immense resources that are dedicated to the military are, as many critics have pointed out, in fact taboo in election debates either presidential or mid-term. To raise the issue of drastically cutting these budgets and instead funnelling them into health, education, housing, etc, cannot be carried out without ending US wars of aggression and occupation abroad, destabilizing efforts and military bases in other countries such as in South America. Anyone having as an election plank the elimination of ending of US military aggressive budgets is immediately attacked as being anti-patriotic; the US flag is metaphorically raised for all to rally around it. It is simply not allowed in public discourse. The fact that Bernie Sanders follows the “unspoken guideline” of evading the issue is partly explained by his already conservative position on Gaza (2014) where he de facto supports Israel.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/in-the-loop/wp/2014/08/20/answering-question-on-israel-bernie-sanders-tells-townhall-hecklers-to-shut-up/

He cannot therefore raise foreign policy. There are issues in the political life of the US and the world which serve as litmus tests. Steve, In our times it was Vietnam in the 1960s and 70’s. In my view Gaza 2014 edition is the current litmus test and Sanders fails miserably. One cannot in my view deal with aggressive foreign policy including genocide against the Palestinian people detached from violence in the US itself.

The Ferguson issue shows that violence abroad is a continuation or an extension of violence and repression that takes place systematically in the US itself first and foremost against Blacks. Racism as part of the US state and the use of repression inside the US against any serious opposition is endemic to the American state since the time of the slave-owning Founding Fathers to date. State repression also occurred (and is still taking place) against the Occupy movement. Remember that the federal government orchestrated the dismantling of the Occupy structures while of course attempting to co-op the content: sentiment against Wall Street.

Sanders on Ferguson? “In a letter to Senate colleagues, Sanders called for a thorough federal investigation of the Aug. 9 death of an unarmed black teenager who was shot by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb.” http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/citing-crisis-in-ferguson-sanders-to-propose-youth-jobs-bill
He also of course added on a youth jobs bill for Blacks. The call to rely on the US justice system, the DOJ and bread-crumb handouts is no different than that of Obama. At the time of writing, the killer of Michael Brown has still not been arrested, tried and convicted of murder. I do not think that he will be.

My conclusion regarding an alternative? I do not think that it lies in Bernie Sanders. I believe that it is incumbent on the street, that is, the new embryonic revolutionary black movement emerging out of Ferguson (devoid of what Malcolm X called “House Negros”) , the Occupy and other social/political grass roots movements and the unions to unite behind revolutionary presidential and vice presidential candidates that come out of these struggles. The common denominator has to be a progressive opposition to the lesser of two evils represented by the two political parties and offshoots of them.

Perhaps I am wrong and the best alternative would be to push Sanders into a progressive position seeing as that he has abandoned the two-party system. In any case, I hope that my views, admittedly quite radical, contribute to the debate initiated on this very important blog.

 

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