Democratic Debate: Sanders Attacks Clinton-Kissinger Vision for Perpetual War
Clinton favors war and regime change over negotiations and diplomacy says Phyllis Bennis, author of "Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer." - February 14, 2016
Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. She is the author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis, Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer. Her most recent book isUnderstanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer.
HILLARY CLINTON: We have a lot of work to do with Iran before we ever say that they could move toward normalized relations with us.
BERNIE SANDERS: We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do. But I recall--Secretary Clinton ran against then-Senator Obama. She was critical of him for suggesting that maybe you want to talk to Iran, that you want to talk to our enemies. I have no illusion. Of course you're right. Iran is sponsoring terrorism in many parts of the world, destabilizing areas. Everybody knows that. But our goal is, in fact, to try over a period of time to in fact deal with our enemies, not just ignore them.
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: That was a bit of the exchange between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on foreign policy in the debate held in Milwaukee on Thursday, February 11.
Joining me now to talk about all of this is Phyllis Bennis. Phyllis is a fellow directing the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, and she's the author of Understanding the U.S.-Iran Crisis: A Primer. Phyllis, as always, thank you for joining us.
PHYLLIS BENNIS: Good to be with you, Sharmini.
PERIES: So, Phyllis, what did you think of that exchange on Iran between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders?
BENNIS: Well, it's very interesting. It's a moment when Bernie Sanders was able to point to the longstanding Clinton resistance to talking to diplomacy, to negotiations, and her preference for war. That's really what he was pointing out. In my choice it might have been a little more direct. But it was, for a presidential debate it was pretty direct that that's what he was getting to.
The victory of diplomacy over war that's symbolized in the success of the Iran nuclear deal was not sort of front and center of the, of the talks last, on Thursday night, as it should have been. But nonetheless there was a very clear sense that we're dealing with two very different approaches to perceived opponents of the United States. Now, given that it is a presidential debate they're competing with each other, and clearly Bernie Sanders is concerned about both his relative lack of experience, despite his having, as he puts it, better judgment.
But also the fear that he will be viewed as soft on military issues in some, his own words about Iran being a sponsor of terrorism, being the key sponsor of terrorism, destabilizing around the world. Which is sort of interesting, when you look at who they're actually supporting around the world. If you look at Iran's support for the government in Iraq, that's the government we put in power. We pay the bills, we bring the arms. But Iran supports them. And Iran is opposing ISIS, which I would think most people in this country if you ask them, would say if you said, you know, who's the biggest terrorist threat, nobody would say Iran. I think pretty much everybody would say ISIS. Maybe a few would say al-Qaeda, but it would be one or the other, both of which are ardently opposed by Iran.
So that was a bit of a, I think a very good jab from Bernie Sanders to the Clinton campaign, that's tried to say, this is all about my experience. And he's pointing out once again that she has lots of experience, but in most cases she was on the wrong side of these foreign policy debates.
PERIES: Now, Phyllis, one of the other heated topics were, of course, regime change. And particularly in relation to Libya, Bernie Sanders went after her. Let's have a look.
SANDERS: But the point about foreign policy is not just to know that you can overthrow a terrible dictator. It's to understand what happens the day after. And in Libya, for example, the United States, Secretary Clinton as Secretary of State, working with some other countries, did get rid of a terrible dictator named Gaddafi. But what happened is a political vacuum developed, ISIS came in, and now occupies significant territory in Libya, and is now prepared, unless we stop them, to have a terrorist foothold.
But this is nothing new. This has gone on 50 or 60 years, where the United States has been involved in overthrowing governments. Mossadegh, back in 1953, nobody knows who Mossadegh was. Democratically elected prime minister of Iran. He was overthrown by British and American interest because he threatened oil interests of the British. And as a result of that the Shah of Iran came in, terrible dictator. As a result of that you had the Iranian revolution come in, and that's where we are today. Unintended consequences.
So I believe, as president, I will look very carefully about unintended consequences. I will do everything I can to make certain that the United States and our brave men and women in the military do not get bogged down in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.
CLINTON: Two, two points. one, Senator Sanders voted in 1998 on what I think is fair to call a regime change resolution with respect to Iraq, calling for the end of Saddam Hussein's regime. He voted in favor of regime change with Libya, voted in favor of the Security Council being an active participant in setting the parameters for what we would do, which of course we followed through on.
I do not believe a vote in 2002 is a plan to defeat ISIS in 2016. It's very important we focus on the threats we face today, and that we understand the complicated and dangerous world we're in. When people go to vote in primaries or caucuses, they are voting not only for the president, they are voting for the commander-in-chief. And it's important that people really look hard at what the threats and dangers we face are, and who is best prepared for dealing with them. As we all remember, Senator Obama, when he ran against me, was against the war in Iraq. And yet when he won he turned to me, trusting my judgment, my experience, to become Secretary of State. I was very honored to be asked to do that, and very honored to serve with him those first four years.
SANDERS: [Inaud.] if I, if I can. There is no question, and Secretary Clinton and I are friends, and I have a lot of respect for her, that she has enormous experience in foreign affairs. Secretary of State for four years, you get a bit of experience, I would imagine. But judgment matters, as well. Judgment matters, as well. And she and I looked at the same evidence coming from the Bush administration regarding Iraq. I led the opposition against it. She voted for it.
But more importantly, in terms of this Libya resolution that you've noted before, this was a virtually unanimous consent, everybody voted for it, wanting to see Libya move toward democracy. Of course we all wanted to do that. That is very different than talking about specific action for regime change, which I did not support.
HILLARY: You did support a UN Security Council approach, which we did follow up on. And look, I think it's important to look at what the most important counterterrorism judgment of the first four years of the Obama administration was, and that was the very difficult decision as to whether or not to advise the president to go after bin Laden. I looked at the evidence, I looked at the intelligence, I got the briefings, I recommended that the president go forward.
PERIES: Phyllis, I guess we'll have to rely on you to set the record straight. What do you think of Hillary's attack on Bernie, here?
BENNIS: Well, I think there were a number of important points here. In Iraq in 1998, the resolution before the Congress did not authorize the use of force. That's very important. Force was already being used. It was used by Clinton, President Clinton, back in those days, and it was a separate call for, you know, it was a sort of Saddam Hussein must go kind of resolution. It did not specifically authorize military force.
Having said that, I think what's clear here is that there is somewhat of a difference between the explicit principle that Bernie Sanders has articulated, which has been so important in this campaign, where he's said very explicitly that one of the big differences between his campaign, or between him and Secretary Clinton, is that she is much more open to regime change, and he would be very, very cautious. He hasn't said he would never under any circumstances support it.
And I think it is important to recognize that there is somewhat of a contradiction between his claim to be very resistant to the idea of regime change, while at the same time his actual call for a policy in Syria does include regime change. Now, it's different than Clinton's, but it's not completely different. Essentially what Clinton calls for in Iraq--sorry, what Clinton calls for today in Syria, she says we must go after ISIS and we must go after Assad. We can go after both. We should be about ending the rule of both of them.
What Senator Sanders says is we should be going after ISIS, because that's the real threat. But then he adds, then we can go after Assad. So the implication is that the real difference between his position and that of Secretary Clinton is one of sequence rather than of substance. So he would support regime change, apparently, in Syria. But not until ISIS has been dealt with. And that's--in my view that's a very problematic position.
Now, it is important that he kept the focus very much on Libya, which although it's true, he did vote for it, there is no question that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was the real cheerleader in a very reluctant administration to go to war in Libya. And aside from what was left behind, the kind of utter destruction of the country, destruction of the entire governing capacity, the opening up of massive arms depots that are now wreaking havoc throughout the region as far down as central Africa and beyond, it's also true that the situation in Libya was very different than what was called for in the UN resolution. The reason that the UN resolution passed in the Security Council, and what was stated later, particularly by the Russians and especially most importantly by South Africa, which changed its vote and supported the resolution, and they said, whether or not it's true that they were, as what seems naïve as this, they say that they believed the language was very explicit in narrowly defining the military role to that of protecting civilians at risk. And not regime change.
Now, many of us at the time said, this resolution is all about regime change, and if it passes that's what will go forward. We were right. And I think that the fact that Hillary Clinton, whose team helped draft that resolution, knew full well that it was exactly a resolution calling for regime change, where the official language of it did not and the discussion in Congress implied that it did not. So there is a difference between the role they played on the Libya regime change campaign.
PERIES: All right. Phyllis, we're going to now take a look at one of the most controversial points that came up in the debate, and that is Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton referring to him as one of her mentors, and Bernie took this up. Let's have a look.
SANDERS: She talked about getting the approval or the support, or the mentoring, of Henry Kissinger. Now, I find it rather amazing, because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive Secretaries of State in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. And in fact, Kissinger's actions in Cambodia, wherein the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some 3 million innocent people, one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.
PERIES: Now, Phyllis, according to Greg Grandin in the Nation, Hillary Clinton's progress as a public figure and politician can in fact be traced back to Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. So give us a sense of what you think of Hillary holding Kissinger up in this way, and of course Bernie's attack on it.
BENNIS: Well, I find it shocking, as well. Bernie didn't use the word shocking, but I imagine he did feel shocked, as I think everybody did who heard Hillary Clinton bragging about having support from someone who much of the world views as a war criminal. To me the only controversial part of this discussion, if you will, at the debate, was the fact that as a candidate running right now Bernie Sanders had to be very, what's the right word, cautious, I suppose, in stating the Henry Kissinger was perhaps the most destructive Secretary of State. But he did not call him a war criminal. He kept his critique to Kissinger's role in the invasion of Cambodia, which of course set the stage for the Cambodian genocide.
He didn't talk about Kissinger's direct role in supporting brutal, absolutely brutal dictatorships through Latin America throughout the 1970s and '80s. The so-called dirty war. The regime of General Pinochet in Chile. We know now that he actually knew that the Chilean regime, that the Pinochet regime, was responsible for the assassination of my colleagues here at IPS, Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, in Washington in 1976 in what was then the worst act of international terrorism ever committed in the United States. So he didn't raise those things.
But I think that it was very, very important that Bernie Sanders took on this notion that Henry Kissinger is the, the great eminence grise of foreign policy in the United States, and we must all bow down before his importance, because his importance is that of being a very, very important war criminal. And while that may not have been stated in the debate, I think that the vehemence of Bernie Sanders' resistance to the idea that Henry Kissinger should be held up as some kind of model, or some kind of mentor, and say I am proud that he is not my friend and he will never be my mentor, that's very, very powerful. That's where you get to this question of judgment being more important than experience.
PERIES: Phyllis Bennis, I thank you so much for your analysis on the debate last night, and I hope to have you back very soon.
BENNIS: Looking forward to it.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
WHO IS BEST FOR GLOBAL PEACE???
It is question: “To be or not to be” humanity in the 21st century?
Sanders is the BEST for GLOBAL PEACE
Dear GHA members, friends!
The inflaming US presidential race more clearly divides the candidates into supporters and opponents of global peace. The best for it turns out democrat Bernie Sanders who attacked Hillary Clinton’s vision for perpetual war of America. Information about the debate between them on this key for humanity issue is published on the Home page of our website: www.peacefromharmony.org.
The GHA calls up all peacemakers, especially in the United States, to fully support Sanders as the best candidate for global peace because the militaristic totalitarian America of billionaires will do the utmost to exclude Sanders from the election.
Best wishes for peace from harmony,
Dr. Leo Semashko, GHA President,
КТО ЛУЧШЕ ДЛЯ ГЛОБАЛЬНОГО МИРА???
Это вопрос: “Быть или не быть” человечеству в 21 веке?
Сандерс – лучший для глобального мира
Дорогие члены ГСГ, друзья!
Разгорающаяся президентская гонка США все более ясно делит кандидатов на сторонников и противников глобального мира. Лучшим для него оказывается демократ Берни Сандерс, который атаковал убежденность «вечных войн» Америки у Хилари Клинтон. Информация о дебатах между ними по этому ключевому для человечества вопросу опубликована на главной странице нашего сайта: www.peacefromharmony.org.
ГСГ призывает всех миротворцев, прежде всего в США, всемерно поддерживать Сандерса как лучшего кандидата для глобального мира, потому что милитаристская тоталитарная Америка миллиардеров сделает все возможное, чтобы исключить Сандерса из выборов.
Лучшие пожелания миру из гармонии,
Лев Семашко, Президент ГСГ,
I know that it is difficult for people to see outside of the two corporate political parties because that is all that the commercial media will promote. People's minds are so colonized by the corporate duopoly that they can't remember how important third parties have always been to social transformation in the US.
I hope that those who seek peace, as I do, will do what they can to promote a true peace candidate for president in the US. That is Dr. Jill Stein who is seeking the Green Party nomination. Please see her website at http://www.jill2016.com/. She needs support for her campaign in the form of raising awareness about it and volunteers and donations.
Bernie Sanders is NOT a peace candidate. He supports Saudi Arabia continuing its aggression in Syria. He supports the use of drones to murder. He supports Israel's violent apartheid. See http://www.mintpressnews.com/bernie-sanders-foreign-policy-includes-unlimited-military-aid-to-saudi-regime/209100/
I must disclose that I am also running for office, for US Senate in Maryland seeking the Green Party's nomination.
We are working very hard against a difficult political machine to build the necessary political alternative. Visit the GP US website to learn more about our ten key values.
I ask that you see the reality that Sanders, while better on some issues, is not the best peace candidate and instead support people who are devoting their lives to creating a peaceful, just and sustainable future. Thank you.
Margaret Flowers, USA,
Yes, I am for Sanders.
Muhammad Faruque Malik, USA,
Profesor en el Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales (I.A.E.N.)
Tel: (593) (2) 382 99 00 Ext 272
Fundación Pueblo Indio del Ecuador
Calle Ruiz de Castilla N 26-92 y Sosaya - 170520 - Quito ECUADOR
Tel. (593) (2) 32.12.100 Cel. (593) 9.69.55.06.40
Rue Kelle, 192/6 - B-1150 Bruxelles
Tel. (32) 4220.127.116.11
I and my friends fully and completely agree with you:Senator Bernie Sanders is the only moral choice!!! Best wishes,
your Rudi, Rudolf Siebert, Professor of Religion, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA; World Harmony Creator from the House of Mir:
WHO IS BETTER FOR GLOBAL PEACE: SANDERS or STEIN ???
Dear Margaret, Francois, Muhammad and Rudi,
Thanks for your responses, three of which are supporting Sanders as the best US President for global peace. Margaret says that the best US President for global peace will be Jill Stein from the Green Party. I was pleased to publish this diversity of opinions on the GHA website: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=662.
Here starts the most ethical, important, responsible and beautiful competition among the presidential candidates on the key issue for humanity - to ensure global peace as survival and prosperity of mankind, for all its peoples and every person human right for life. This competition embodies the great dream of Martin Luther King: "We must shift the arms race into a peace race." The essence of this competition is expressed by simple question: "WHO BETTER FOR GLOBAL PEACE???” Behind it a key challenge of our common planetary destiny lies: "To be or not to be" humanity in the 21st century?
The Global Harmony Association (GHA) always stimulated a peace race and did everything and makes for it to supplant and replace the eternal war and weapons race. The GHA created over 11 years "the mightiest tool" (Leo Tolstoy) of peace race - Global Peace Science (GPS) from harmony as a synthesis of the constructive peacemaking ideas of all ages, cultures and civilizations by the efforts of 174 coauthors from 34 countries. GPS was jointly published by GHA and IASE (Pedagogical) University of India in English and Russian languages: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=585
The GPS Resume (2 pages) was published here:
The Peace Race is orchestrated today, in the Leo Tolstoy's words by "the mightiest tool of truth" - GPS, from recognition and use of which depends the victory of the best for global peace presidential candidate in the United States. Similar candidacy will support all peace-loving people of the world, not just one country. Who better for global peace – Stein or Sanders? This is defined today by their acceptance of the mightiest intellectual weapon and instrument of global peace - GPS. Who of the two is ready to arm it to win the peace race?
Dear Margaret, as a representative of Stein’s Staff, do you ready to help your candidate in this race? We invite you to discuss and publish on our home page (http://peacefromharmony.org), the number of visits which reaches 10-15 thousand DAILY, the following banner for Jill Stein.
Jill Stein - THE BEST US PRESIDENT
FOR GLOBAL PEACE!
Stein’s truth is:
-Foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, human rights and global peace science.
-End of the war and attack drones, cut military spending by at least 50%. -Close the 700+ military bases and to ensure global nuclear disarmament (http://www.jill2016.com/plan).
As you can see, this banner includes ALL Jill’s foreign policy peacemaking ideas, but they are supplemented by the concept of "global peace science." You and Jill are not afraid of it? But if you really want world peace, its science should not scare you, it should attract you as "the mightiest instrument of peace," regardless of degree of its perfection which is infinite.
Thus, the resume is: are you ready to equip your candidate a new instrument of peace and postings this banner to our and your website? As Russian say: “courage overcomes all obstacles”. Do you want to win the peace race? Sincerely, best wishes of peace via science (GPS),
Dr. Leo Semashko, GHA President,
КТО ЛУЧШЕ ДЛЯ ГЛОБАЛЬНОГО МИРА: САНДЕРС или СТАЙН???
Дорогие Маргарет, Франсуа, Мухаммад и Руди,
Спасибо за ваши отклики, три из которых поддерживают Сандерса как лучшего Президента США для глобального мира. Маргарет утверждает, что лучшим Президентом США для глобального мира будет Джилл Стайн от партии зеленых. Я был рад опубликовать это разнообразие мнений на сайте ГСГ: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=662.
Здесь начинается самая этичная, важная, ответственная и прекрасная конкуренция между кандидатами в Президенты по ключевому для человечества вопросу – обеспечение глобального мира как выживания и процветания человечества, всех его народов и каждого человека права на жизнь. Эта конкуренция воплощает великую мечту Мартина Лютера Кинга: “Мы должны сдвинуть гонку вооружений в гонку мира”. Суть этой конкуренция выражается простым вопросом: “КТО ЛУЧШЕ ДЛЯ ГЛОБАЛЬНОГО МИРА??? За ним скрывается ключевой вызов нашей общей планетарной судьбы: “Быть или не быть” человечеству в 21 веке?
Глобальный Союз Гармонии (ГСГ) всегда стимулировал гонку мира и все делал и делает для нее, чтобы вытеснить и заменить вечную гонку войн и вооружений. ГСГ создал за 11 лет “мощнейший инструмент” (Лев Толстой) гонки мира – Науку Глобального Мира (НГМ) из гармонии как синтез конструктивных миротворческих идей всех эпох, культур и цивилизаций усилиями 174 соавторов из 34 стран. НГМ опубликована совместно ГСГ и ИАСЕ (Педагогическим) Университетом Индии на английском и русском языках: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=606.
Резюме НГМ на 2 страницах опубликовано здесь:
Гонка мира оркестрована сегодня, выражаясь словами Льва Толстого “мощнейшим инструментом истины” - НГМ, от признания и использования которой зависит победа лучшего для глобального мира кандидата в Президенты США. Его будет поддерживать все миролюбивое население нашей планеты, а не только одной страны. Кто лучше для глобального мира – Сандерс или Стайн? Это определяется сегодня их признанием и использованием мощнейшего интеллектуального оружия и инструмента глобального мира – НГМ. Кто из двоих готов вооружиться им, чтобы победить в гонке мира?
Дорогая Маргарет, вы, как представитель штаба Стайн, готовы помочь вашему кандидату в этой гонке? Мы приглашаем вас обсудить и опубликовать на Главной странице нашего сайта (http://peacefromharmony.org), число посещений которого достигает 10-15 тысяч ЕЖЕДНЕВНО, следующий баннер Джилл Стайн.
Джил Стайн – лучший Президент США для глобального мира!
-Внешняя политика, основанная на дипломатии, международном законе, правах человеке и науке глобального мира.
-Закончить все войны и атаки дронов, сократить военные расходы минимум на 50%.
-Закрыть 700+ военных баз США и обеспечить глобальное ядерное разоружение (http://www.jill2016.com/plan).
Как вы видите, в баннер включены ВСЕ внешнеполитические миротворческие идеи Джил, но они дополнены понятием “науки глобального мира”. Вы и Джил не испугаетесь его? Но если вы действительно хотите глобального мира, то его НАУКА не должна пугать вас, она должна привлекать вас как “мощнейший инструмент мира”, независимо от степени его совершенства, которое будет бесконечным.
Итак, резюме: вы готовы вооружить вашего кандидата новым инструментом мира и опубликовать предложенный баннер на нашем и вашем сайтах? Как говорят русские: смелые города берут. Вы хотите выиграть гонку мира?
Искренне, лучшие пожелания мира через науку (НГМ),
Лев Семашко, Президент ГСГ,
Dr. Jill Stein of The Green Party is by far a better candidate for Peace then Bernie Sanders is. But she has NO CHANCE of winning. Zero chance. Most people in this country don’t even know who she is. Bernie Sanders is by far the best candidate running for President who is known and has any chance to win. But I highly doubt that the rich people who own the United States will allow Bernie to win. My guess is that Hillary Clinton will become the new President of the US. Hillary works with the wealthy elite in this country. She is a war-monger and supports the bankers, Wall Street, the Corporations and the Military Industrial Complex. I don’t mean to be negative about this. Just realistic. If Bernie were somehow to beat Hillary I would definitely vote for him. But if Hillary is the Democratic candidate, I will not vote for her no matter which crazy Republican is running against her. And they are all pretty crazy.
The United States is ADDICTED To WAR and all of the candidates support the US Empire except Dr. Jill Stein, with Bernie to a much lesser degree. And they all support Israel’s occupation of Palestine except for Jill Stein.
Margaret, if you will email your mailing address to me, I will send you a copy of ADDICTED To WAR and a DVD copy of my film: “What I’ve Learned About US Foreign Policy: The War Against The Third World”.
Publisher of: Addicted To War
Associate Producer of: PAYING FOR PEACE: The Story of S. Brian Willson
P.O. Box 3261
Culver City, CA 90231-3261
О Берни Сандерсе на русском языке:
War, Peace, and Bernie Sanders
Robert C. Koehler
Published on Thursday, March 03, 2016 by Common Dreams
It’s the day after the big vote and I’m doing my best to dig Tulsi Gabbard’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders out from beneath the pile of Super Tuesday numbers and media declarations of winners and losers.
As a Boston Globe headline put it: “Clinton and Trump are now the presumptive nominees. Get used to it.”
But something besides winning and losing still matters, more than ever, in the 2016 presidential race. War and peace and a fundamental questioning of who we are as a nation are actually on the line in this race, or could be — for the first time since 1972, when George McGovern was the Democratic presidential nominee.
Embrace what matters deeply and there’s no such thing as losing.
Gabbard, an Iraq war vet, congresswoman from Hawaii and “rising star” in the Democratic establishment, stepped down as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to endorse Sanders — because he’s the only candidate who is not financially and psychologically tied to the military-industrial complex.
“As a veteran of two Middle East deployments, I know firsthand the cost of war,” she said, cracking the mainstream silence on U.S. militarism. “As a vice chair of the DNC, I am required to stay neutral in democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer. The stakes are just too high.”
Because of Gabbard — only because of Gabbard — the multi-trillion-dollar monstrosity of U.S. militarism is getting a little mainstream media attention amid the reality-TV histrionics of this year’s presidential race, the Donald Trump phenomenon and the spectacle of Republican insult-flinging.
As the results of Super Tuesday started coming in on Tuesday night, Gabbard was given a few minutes to talk on MSNBC. While Rachel Maddow wanted to discuss the risk her Sanders endorsement might have on her career, Gabbard insisted on addressing the slightly larger matter of our unchecked, resource-hemorrhaging military adventurism across the globe.
“War is a very real thing,” she said. “If the Syrian war continues, we won’t have the resources to fund important social programs. This isn’t a question of the past — it’s a question of today. Regime-change wars do nothing to strengthen our national security, but they do strengthen our enemies.”
Fine. We’ll return after these messages . . .
A short while later, the MSNBC analysts’ attention snapped back to the Trump phenomenon. Someone opined: “The vast majority of Trump supporters are enamored of winning” far more than they care about the goofball issues Trump is supposedly running on, like the wall across the Mexican border and the ban on Muslims entering the country. Maybe it’s true and maybe it’s not, but I sense the mainstream media is a lot more comfortable with an issue-free presidential race, which is what the powers that be want, of course. The presidential election is supposed to be a distraction, not some kind of public accountability process.
The Sanders phenomenon, while as shocking and unexpected as the success of the Trump campaign, is far too substantive to garner a similar amount of media attention, let alone serious consideration of the issues he’s bringing up. Yet remarkably, his call for social change — for the transformation of a “rigged economy” — has not receded to the margins, either. So what happens next? Tulsi Gabbard’s endorsement is the key. As Dave Lindorff recently wrote:
“Sanders, who has been avoiding talking about the country’s military budget and its imperialist foreign policy, should use the opportunity of Gabbard’s defection from the DNC to announce that if elected he would immediately slash military spending by 25 percent, that he would begin pulling U.S. forces back from most of the 800 or more bases they occupy around the world, and that he would end a decades-long foreign policy of overthrowing elected leaders around the globe.”
The shock waves generated by such a stance, from a candidate who already has 386 delegates, would be enormous. Conventional wisdom cries no, no, that’s too much. No matter how much harm our wars have caused in the last decade, no matter how absurd a slice that war preparation — including nuclear weapons development — gouges from the national budget, the U.S. military, the planet’s biggest polluter and most prolific terrorist, remains untouchable. The public has no say in these matters. The president has no say in these matters.
This delusion goes back to the Vietnam War and McGovern’s loss to Richard Nixon. Since then, the Democrats have attempted to purge themselves of antiwar — or what perhaps should be called trans-military — thinking. In doing so, they’ve tied themselves to their own, and the country’s, inevitable collapse.
The other option is transformation. This is the year it could begin.
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at email@example.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.