Bernie Sanders is old, and he has called himself a socialist. Although those are genuine problems for any American presidential candidate, I am much more troubled by his attitude toward foreign policy
: Whenever he starts to talk about the Middle East, Bernie Sanders becomes Hillary Clinton without the pantsuit.
And he said that in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the U.S. government should act jointly with regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (“Those countries are going to have to get their hands dirty, it cannot just be the United States alone.”)
When pressed for details on military intervention, Sanders has indicated that his differences with the Barack Obama administration are quite minor. Like many Democrats, he supports U.S. air strikes in the Middle East, while asserting that only countries in the region should deploy ground forces there. Sanders shares the widespread view among members of Congress who don’t want boots on the ground but do want U.S. air power to keep dropping bombs and firing missiles.
Sanders has also urged confronting Russian leader Vladimir Putin over Ukraine. (“You totally isolate him politically, you totally isolate him economically,” Sanders said on Fox News last year.)
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
In his handling of the Ukraine situation, Vladimir Putin has done nothing to warrant isolation. If Sanders had any political courage, he would admit that American neocons played an entirely villainous role in fomenting a coup against Ukraine's elected leader, using Nazis as bully-boys.
As for that remark about acting jointly with Turkey and Saudi Arabia against ISIS: Is Sanders kidding? That's like acting jointly with Dr. Frankenstein against reanimated cadavers. Saudi Arabia helped to create
has been bombing the perpetually fucked-over Kurds who had been fighting ISIS.
What Sanders should
have said is that this country needs to give up its sick dream of regime change in Syria and Iran. What Sanders should
have said is that the leaders of this country were insane to take sides in a Sunni/Shiite confrontation that has no bearing on our own history or cultural values. What Sanders should
have said is that we will no longer function as the muscle in Israel's long-term scheme to overthrow any state that might aid the Palestinians.
Alas, Sanders did not say such things, nor is he likely to.
I'm not sure that Jim Webb will say the right things either. Nevertheless, I think he is much likelier than Bernie Sanders to challenge Washington's foreign policy groupthink.
Yes, Webb's opposition to the Iran deal is worrying, although he may have taken that position for reasons of political strategy. (I think he wants to stake out a position to Hillary's right, even though he actually stands to her left on a number of issues.) What he has to say here
leads me to believe that Webb has a keen understanding of what's really going on in Syria (emphasis added):
Q: What about Syria and ISIS?
Flynn spills the beans.
WEBB: Now if you take a look at Syria, and these other parts of Iraq, we now have a situation where we're asking these freedom fighters, or whatever you want to call them, who were going after Assad, to help us go after ISIS. The elements that are fighting there are very fluid in terms of the people who declare their alliances. I would be willing to bet that we had people at the top of ISIS who actually have been trained by Americans at some point.
The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Michael Flynn
, has gone some ways toward verifying Webb's suspicions.
Flynn seemed to want to make it clear that the policies that led to the rise of ISIL were not merely the result of ignorance or looking the other way, but the result of conscious decision making:
Hasan: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?
Flynn: I think the administration.
Hasan: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?
Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.
Hasan: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?
Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.
Lt. Gen. Flynn, speaking safely from retirement, is the highest ranking intelligence official to go on record saying the United States and other state sponsors of rebels in Syria knowingly gave political backing and shipped weapons to Al-Qaeda in order to put pressure on the Syrian regime...
Is Bernie Sanders ever going to address what Flynn has revealed? Or will Sanders (like all of the other candidates, Democratic and Republican) continue to pretend that the former head of the DIA never said such things?