Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Sanders Doctrine: has a nice ring to it

Phyllis Bennis looks at Bernie Sanders' foreign policy in A Sanders Foreign-Policy Doctrine? How About ‘No Wars for the Billionaire Class’? The Nation 02/22/2016. Here's her summary version:

Coming out against wars that benefit the US and global 1 percent provides a whole new 21st-century way of understanding both President Eisenhower’s warning about the power of the military-industrial complex and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s warning about the deadly triplets of militarism, racism, and extreme materialism.

No Wars for the Billionaire Class means standing up to the overarching influence of the arms-producing companies, especially their overpaid CEOs (perhaps recalling an earlier era of US history, when war profiteering was actually deemed illegal as well as immoral). It requires saying no to dictators who want to buy more expensive weapons, no matter how close their alliance with the United States. It means facing down the oil industry and its demand for US military protection—often including military occupation of other countries—of its pipelines, oilfields, and other facilities abroad. It means challenging the too-frequent Pentagon role in building bases and deploying troops and bombers to protect the far-flung interests of US and global corporations and further enrich the already super-rich. It means reversing the diversion of more than 54 cents of every discretionary federal dollar away from jobs, education, and healthcare to fund the military.

It is already obvious that Clinton’s much-touted experience bears little relationship to those principles. While Obama bears full responsibility for the militarization of foreign policy and the failed wars on his watch, there is no question that Clinton served as cheerleader for the most hawkish positions that some in the White House, including the president himself, acceded to only reluctantly. Trying to pivot away from Sanders’s debate statement that she bore major responsibility for today’s violence and chaos in Libya, Clinton claimed, accurately, that he too, had voted for the US/NATO bombing campaign. But she went on to claim, not so accurately, that the UN resolution she had helped craft to justify the attack on Libya made it all somehow benign; she ignored the fact that the only reason key Security Council countries, including Russia, China, and South Africa, accepted the resolution was because it was specifically limited to protecting civilians—it did not authorize regime change. South Africa’s foreign ministry even apologized later for having made the mistake of supporting the resolution. [my emphasis in bold]
Foreign policy hasn't really been discussed much in the Dem primaries except as it relates the candidates' experience. But Bernie is clearly challenging the dominant US foreign policy consensus, in which the current poles of respectable opinion range from neoconservative to liberal interventionist, which is often hard to distinguish in practice from the neocons. Even "realists" are considered fringy by the Very Serious People these days. And that's a big deal for me. Interventions like the one in Libya that Hillary championed as Secretary of State are avoidable disasters that we really should be avoiding. Bernie's foreign policy perspective sounds much closer to "Don't Do Stupid S**t" than Obama's policies have been on the whole.

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