Why Won’t Bernie Talk About War?

If your local city or town government spent 54% of its funds on an immoral, disastrous, and unpopular project, and your brave, populist, socialist candidate for mayor virtually never acknowledged its existence, would you think something was wrong? Would his admirable positions on numerous smaller projects, and on sources of revenue, ring a little hollow?


Bernie Sanders was asked a while back about the military budget and was essentially accused of wanting to cut it by 50%. Oh no, he replied, I wouldn’t do that. He ought to have replied that doing that would leave the United States far and away the world’s biggest military spender, and that doing that would take U.S. military spending back to roughly 2001 levels. He ought to have mentioned that the savings of hundreds of billions of dollars could transform the United States and the world for the better, that tens of billions could end starvation and provide clean water worldwide, and end poverty at home, and fund projects like free college, and invest in green energy beyond the wildest dreams of its advocates. He ought to have quoted Eisenhower and pointed out the record of the past 14 years of military spending generating wars rather than preventing them. In other words, he ought to have given the sort of smart response he gives to the questions he’s usually asked on the topics he prefers to deal with.

But this was militarism, and militarism is different. Sanders’ record is better than that of most presidential candidates, but very mixed. He’s gotten into shouting matches with his constituents over his support for Israeli wars fought with billions of dollars of free U.S. weapons. He’s supported incredibly wasteful military spending in his state. He opposes some wars, backs others, and glorifies militarism and the “service” that veterans have supposedly provided. While the public would like to fund useful projects and tax cuts for working people by both taxing the rich and slashing the military, Sanders only ever mentions taxing the rich. If he doesn’t want to cut the largest item in the budget by 50%, how much does he want to cut it by? Or does he want to increase it? Who knows. His speeches — at least most of them — and certainly his campaign website, never acknowledge that wars and militarism exist at all. When people have pressed him during Q&A sections of events, he’s proposed auditing the Department of so-called Defense. But what about cutting it? He’s proposed addressing veteran suicides. What about creating no more veterans?

At RootsAction.org we’ve just launched a petition urging Sanders to speak on war and militarism. Thousands have already signed it here. The vote on the Iran deal could come down to 13 Democratic senators, and I haven’t heard Sanders whipping his colleagues at all. His eloquence and energy are needed now. Having voted the right way will not look like enough when another war has started.

Thousands of eloquent comments can be read at the petition site. Here are a handful:

“The president is the nation’s chief foreign policy architect and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. A presidential candidate, to be credible, must enunciate her or his approach to foreign policy and the use of military power with as much clarity and specificity as she or he devotes to domestic policy. A bird with only one wing cannot soar. Neither can a presidential candidate without a foreign policy.” —Michael Eisenscher, Oakland, CA

“Bernie, Militarism is driven by both the American Empire and the military/industrial complex, the huge corporations you correctly speak against. Include militarism in your critique of capitalism. The U.S. is responsible for up to 78% of foreign arms sales; you must denounce this as you denounce banks, and other corporate power.” — Joseph Gainza, VT

“Bernie, please speak out for peace.  If you do, I’ll send you $$.” —Carol Wolman, CA

“I loved your speech and enthusiasm in Madison, and was disappointed you said nothing about foreign policy.” — Dick Russo, WI

“I am thrilled you are running.  I agree with you on most things, but I would like to hear something about the necessity of ending all these endless wars with oversized military budgets, which are part of the economic problem!” — Dorothy Rocklin, MA

“You will have to say something eventually. Do it sooner.” — Michael Japack, OH

“He must comment upon the war on Gaza by Israel, which is connected to not only ‘the madness of militarism’ but also to the racism that the Palestinians and African-Americans face from these two nuclear powers.” — Robert Bonazzi, TX

“This needs to be made a major issue in the coming campaign, especially given the situation re: the deal with Iran and efforts by warmongers (especially the Israeli lobby) to scuttle it. That’s not the only example that comes to mind, but it’s a hot-button issue and it needs to be addressed, not ignored.” — James Kenny, NY

“Bernie, You know better, start talking about our endless wars and our ballooning military budget, also take a stand on the Iran deal!  Domestic policy and foreign policy go hand in hand.” —Eva Havas, RI

“Two wars have been economically disastrous for America. A third war (Iran) could shred the nation’s social fabric, as well. Foreign aid, esp. military aid, to countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel, further destabilizes the region and ensures that liberal reforms will never take hold. So, yes, it’s important that you speak up, and in no uncertain terms.” —Richard Hovey, MI

“The US military is the largest single user of fossil fuels … so continued WAR endangers the planet in more ways than one!  Speak UP!” — Frank Lahorgue, CA

“Please include a denunciation of Israel’s continued land grab for settlements and unconscionable treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.” —Louise Chegwidden, CA

“Keep pressing Senator Sanders on these vital issues!” —James Bradford, MD

We will!

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  • He listens to the Military Industrial Complex’s handy men and that is it, and that is D.C. in view right here in this video!

    Jan 9, 2015 Opium Production in Afghanistan Sets Record – America Soldiers Helping Heroin Production.

    http://youtu.be/FIkLYlaZ6kY

  • Mar 29, 2010 US Soldiers guarding opium in Afghanistan
    https://youtu.be/ChIF6yvTL6k

    December 3, 1993 The ‘CIA’ Drug ConnectionIs as Old as the Agency

    http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/03/opinion/03iht-edlarry.html

  • ClubToTheHead

    I would support Bernie Sanders if he were to run as a Republican.

    He has a lot of right wing votes he could showcase for that party.

  • diogenes

    Bernie is a pink herring. He is a stalking horse for Hilary. In the end, all the chumps who line up behind him will be — so the standard scenario goes — herded into the Democratic Big Tent (TM) and marched off to vote for Hilary or some other, comparable fraud. Bernie can’t cross these lines — can’t speak about these issues otherwise than he does — because he’s on the same leash as all the rest. The entire two-party-system is a hoax and a fake and American adults who are over 40 have lived long enough to see it. But not with closed eyes.

    • Carl_Herman

      Yup, diogenes; Bernie is a tool and show-toy for more “hope” and “change.” Until critical mass is reached with Americans recognizing a .01% criminal oligarchy is holding the leashes, we’re fucked.

  • jadan

    You answer your own question in your earlier post about the military media rating service. The military is embedded so deeply in our society that our society has become militaristic and any politician with a lick of sense will not openly confront it. You can be the voice of anti-war, but there’s no chance you will ever be elected to any public office of significance, no chance that you will ever achieve a position of power within the system that would allow you to pursue a stealth campaign against the military budget. All you can do is point fingers at others who are less quixotic than you are and feel superior! And you’re not actually changing anything. The anti-war movement that began in the mid-60’s has presided over the largest increase in military power and influence in modern times. You might try a little different approach. Ya think?

    • diogenes

      This blurs history. The anti-war movement did — much too slowly — end the war in Vietnam and stop major American military operations overseas for almost 20 years. And the system made covert changes starting in the early 70s, many not visible until 30 years later, that made it harder for the methods that worked — not well, or quickly, but worked — in 1970 to succeed in 1991 or 2001 or 2015. The number one reason the Vietnam war ended was the GIs on the ground. This is one reason why the draft was ended. The big increase in America military that you mention did not start in the 70s but years later.

      Now, what is the “different approach” you refer to?

      • jadan

        As with those who support the “war on terror”, your claims about the effectiveness of the anti-war movement are nebulous and difficult to prove. Wouldn’t it be nice to believe the marchers were effective and that the military machine can be stopped! I’d like to believe it. I’d like to believe my activism had some effect. But the only effect the movement had was to end the draft. Now soldiers who finally see the light of day protest with suicide. Bradley Mannings are few and far between. The military did not pause before it began a war on dissent. The humiliation of a defeat by 3rd world gooks colluding with a recalcitrant soldiery and film stars only caused the Pentagon to becomee far more sophisticated in news management and psychological operations. It did not shrink in size and it was not defanged or declawed in any way. It paused momentarily and then Reagan showed up.

        A different approach involves attempting to impose budget restraint, oversight, even an audit. Most people believe in war, but they also believe in fiscal sanity. If you don’t believe in war, you’re not quite right. This military cannot be confronted head on. It runs this country and most of the world. It devoured the peace movement in an easy gulp and evolved into the National Security State. 911 proves that it knows no restraint. We the people know next to nothing about its real potential for destruction. Swanson can tilt at windmills and it is refreshing to listen to him…but….

        • Carl_Herman

          The military is split, jadan. The game is to drive a political/policy/”what to do” wedge between the psychopath unlawful war-mongers and the 90%+ ordinary human military who choose justice when the choice is clear.

          If I had to bet on how we win, I’d bet on the good US military side winning, and arresting the psychopaths. At least, that’s what I’m asking them to do consistent with their Oaths of Enlistment and what they should be able to see now for themselves.

          • jadan

            I don’t know anyone in the military at this time so I don’t know if such a split exists as it did back in the days of the draft. I know mostly disabled Viet Nam vets getting fat disability payments. They love “Uncle Sugar”. We live in a national security state and our military is not wholly accountable to civilian political control. There may be soldiers and officers who do take their oaths seriously, but they’re not calling the shots. Compartmentalization of information rules. Special operations dominate. Top secret operations staffed by fanatics and mercenaries who sign non-disclosure agreements punishable by death. There is no “good US military”. There are certainly good people who serve, which explains why we haven’t nuked other nations, but good people serving an evil organization will not make that organization good. They can forestall self-destruction…maybe….

          • Carl_Herman

            Yup, maybe…

            Game on 🙂

        • diogenes

          You continue to ignore history. The end of the Vietnam War and the end of major American international aggression for 20 years are facts. You can’t pretend them away or cover them up in distracting blather and wild meaningless claims: “Most people believe in war.” Uh-huh.

          • jadan

            Dude, can you spell Grenada, or Panama, or aren’t these military aggressions big enough to qualify? Not for one minute following the Viet Nam debacle did US military aggression cease and desist. The proxy contra war was a stinky and slimy business, but that doesn’t meet your criteria? New US doctrine called for more smelly, dishonorable, and criminal tactics, hidden from view with new techniques of perception management. You go do a poll for yourself and just ask random people if they think war is necessary. Everyone will say yes. You yourself probably believe war is unavoidable, unless you happen to be a genuine pacifist and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who would rather be killed than kill. You’re just a kid, diogenes, you don’t know what you’re talking about. And I’m sorry that the anti-war movement failed miserably. I was hugely disappointed, too, but I don’t think you were born yet. David Swanson is a fine and inspired fellow and he does good and necessary work, but his role is to inspire, not to provide political leadership, or to try to dissuade people from engaging in the political process.

  • diogenes

    The short answer to the question in the title is: what a silly question.

  • Higgs Boson

    Sanders is running on the “it’s the economy stupid” strategy, which worked very well for Bill Clinton. The central issue for the 2016 election cycle is jobs and money. People vote with their wallets. Same as it ever was.

    • Carl_Herman

      No, Higgs, you’re just wrong in your analysis. No leader would ever ever ever ever ignore the worst crime a nation can commit: OBVIOUS and unlawful War of Aggression. Plus, he’s not running on the economy because he also ignores OBVIOUS solutions to our Orwellian monetary system of creating what we use for money as debt, and Bernie fails to discuss this fundamental criminal fraud of literal banksters. You’ve learned about unlawful war and our monetary system, yes?

      If not, David has many excellent articles and books on unlawful war. Here’s mine, with economics explanation: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/05/seizing-an-alternative-recognizing-the-emperors-new-clothes-as-the-story-of-today-1-of-7.html

      • Higgs Boson

        “No leader would ever ever ever ever ignore the worst crime a nation can commit: OBVIOUS and unlawful War of Aggression.” Then no politician by that definition, in the U.S. is a “leader”. Name one person running for office that dares to address that. There is a reason why they don’t: The average voter is worried about eeking out a living. Everything else is background noise.
        As for the debt money issue, the Fed is a creation of congress. Congress has made changes to the Federal Reserve Act over the years. The Fed exists only to the extant that congress allows it to. Sanders could use his campaign to educate the public about the need to seriously reform our central banking system. But hasn’t that been done before by Ron Paul? How did that go?

        • Carl_Herman

          That’s right, Higgs: we live in a world with “leaders” who are silent in the face of unlawful Wars of Aggression. That lack of real leadership includes Bernie Sanders.

          You really believe the average American somehow doesn’t care about the peace treaties all our families sacrificed to win through two world wars if brought to their direct attention with real reporting and real leadership?!? You’re so wrong, and need to re-examine the call for love and cooperation that is in the human heart. If you “hope” for “change” from Bernie when he can’t/won’t state unlawful Wars of Aggression, then your definition of “leadership” is far below the kind of planet you’d freely choose to live on, true, Higgs?

          Higgs: don’t you agree the stronger position is David’s in this article to demand a presidential candidate honor the world’s most important law: war law? This is not exclusive to the economy; far from it as the top expense of government.

          Uh, and no, Americans are not educated about creating what we use for money as debt owed to the banks. I worked with Dr. Paul’s staff on this issue: he refused to take the issue on directly. And then, the point of education is ongoing upgrade in what we do: the system we have continues unaffected in looting and fraud.

          And you, Higgs, should understand money mechanics enough to explain and prove the current system is like adding negative numbers forever, with the OBVIOUS endgame of tragic-comic total debt just as we have today. Congress is part of the problem, Higgs, allowing the crimes centering in war and money.

          • Higgs Boson

            Do I believe the average American somehow doesn’t care? Of course they care, but the average person is scrambling to keep a roof over their heads. How do I know this? I talk with people. I attended one of the Sanders campaign kick-off gatherings. There were a lot of young, first-time voters, and just as many voters returning to the political discourse after a lengthy absence. The overwhelming concern among these people is economics: wealth inequality, jobs, and the purchase of our political system by billionaires. Of course they are also worried about illegal wars prosecuted in their name by an increasingly bought-and-paid-for government. To paraphrase Maslow, it’s bare-assed survival first; all else comes next.

            I would certainly like to know Sanders position on US foreign policy. I suspect his positions in that regard are not much different than Clinton’s, or the majority of senators & reps from either party. To be sure, US foreign policy is morally bankrupt at best and purely evil at worst. At this point the only thing that sets Sanders apart from Clinton is his position on economic matters such as taxes and trade. So for dems voting in the primary it’s Sanders (a populist at home, and Wolfowitz doctrine for foreign policy) or Clinton (a neoliberal at home, and Wolfowitz doctrine for foreign policy). Which is the better of the two?

            I also hope that his hiring of Dr. Kelton for chief economist on the senate budget committee will help drive meningful change in the bduget process and get congress to assert its authority over the Fed. The sooner the general voting population understands that the federal gov doesn’t have to issue debt to create $, the more likely they are to take an active interest in how their congress critters are exrecising that authority.

  • Greg Burton

    It’s quite simple, really: it has only been through war, concocted war, that the small occult Zionist clique (City of London, its nation-state Israel) now running rough-shod on the planet have been able to create the pretext for the gargantuan global police state, the pretext for expropriating, privatizing the remaining resources and properties of the planet; and Bernie Sanders is to be their first true Zionist dictator of the United States. The previous version were just sycophantic suck-butts, not members of the tribe.

    Why would the former Israeli kibbutz’er, Zionist Israel supporter, a true socialist (Freemason Karl Marx, Trotsky) now betray the founding dynamic (war on terror) through which the occult cabal, Satanic New World Order, has seized power over the planet?

    As Hillary and Jeb are thrown under the bus, Trump divides the Republican base, Bernie Sanders will emerge as the “savior” of America. President Bernie Sanders.

    Sanders is now, through these incidents where “radicals” are seizing the microphone from him, positioning himself as a centrist, a populist outsider, who will take care of America in his socialist “great society”. A society worn down by concocted terror and endless war, false flag racial strife and political fragmentation, staged gun violence to confiscate our weapons, and an economic collapse brought about by same Deep State banking clique that has enslaved them with hyperinflation and unpayable debt (dedollarization).

    Economic chaos, martial law, depopulation

    Stuck is a perpetual milieu of un-investigated false flag terror (9/11, London 7/7, Sandy Hook, Aurora SSRI shootings) an economic collapse engineered by the same people who’ve engineered Sander’s rise from obscurity; Sanders will take the tools already created for the continuity of government and open up the FEMA camps in preparation of the “final solution” for Americans. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ba4e4dab28d28a3483ddf2d824922b1423de950b4eb22ac82e707a5378d81f9f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/df54f498459f90b60945760ef188e4195a00c5960bcca90587560d59bce8fd49.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ed5326a292bd724a9d2b313815f40cdcbdd47f6e73edf8c6660fa72e042bf897.jpg

  • http://feelthebern.org/category/bernie-sanders-on-foreign-policy-and-national-security/ << Bernie Sander's Foreign Policy and National Security stances are detailed there at link. It's great info to pass around!