Bernie Sanders spells out a progressive foreign policy
Sometimes you never realize how broken something is until you try to fix it.
That's what happened when Bernie Sanders finally addressed foreign policy today.
Sanders "described U.S. drone strikes against innocent civilians as one of the 'root causes' of terrorism." YES. https://t.co/2K2XPe2wzX
— Nikhil Goyal (@nikhilgoya_l) September 21, 2017
At the heart of his speech was the argument that the divide between domestic and foreign policy is not only artificial but also counterproductive. An expansive view of foreign policy—not merely as the idea of what happens over there, but also as part of who we are here at home—challenges us to enlarge our own thinking. Foreign policy, in Sanders’s argument, is not just about whether we go to war or not. It is about our democracy at home; it is about climate change; it is about global oligarchy; and it is about how American leadership can come together and solve the challenges we face through diplomacy.
Sanders rightly connects the dots between an exploding Pentagon budget and Republican attempts to take health care away from tens of millions of Americans in the name of fiscal responsibility. He makes clear that a progressive foreign policy also means that “We cannot convincingly promote democracy abroad if we do not live it vigorously here at home.” And in the way he does so well, Sanders reminds us that no progressive view of the world can tolerate the massive wealth inequality both here and around the world.
Sanders' speech was far from perfect.
In fact, his speech was so much better than mainstream thought in Washington and in the media that you couldn't help but notice that in a sane world Sanders' speech still came up far short of even minimum acceptable levels of morality.
It's ironic that speaking some truth, as Sanders did, exposes just how far we still have to go.
US-led Coalition tells Al Jazeera it's dropped a total of 16,500 munitions in and around Raqqa, from June up to now https://t.co/WOXrDeMop3
— Airwars (@airwars) September 21, 2017
Democrats have been silent to the point of cowardice when it comes to America's foreign policy since 9/11, if not decades earlier.
This has cost the Democrats dearly.
The pretense that the main thing the government does is of no import when campaigning to be elected to the government is not working out very well. Like wars, it loses again and again and again, but just keeps trying.
And, even as the Democrats ape their Republican opponents on many issues, their silence on foreign policy is their own creation for which they deserve the credit. The three Republicans who defeated Quist, Thompson, and Ossoff, all had fear-mongering, pro-war, pro-military, anti-immigrant, and (in two cases) pro-Israel propaganda on their websites...
In a country with two pro-war parties, the party that admits what it is out-loud is always going to have an advantage. If you can’t imagine a way out of that, ask Jeremy Corbyn for advice.
Jeremy Corbyn actually dared to not be a warmonger during an election campaign, and even dared to point out that the West was losing the GWOT and that there was a link between an aggressive foreign policy and terrorism.
The media pundits assured us that saying this was insane.
The voters disagreed with the pundits.
Yet the establishment Democrats seem to have learned nothing.
On issue after issue, from the war in Afghanistan to the rise of China, Democrats have little exciting to offer. Democratic members of Congress are happy to give fiery speeches condemning Trump’s policies on terrorism or Russia, but that’s not very different from what Republicans did on health care while President Barack Obama was in office.
...When Trump announced his decision to keep fighting in Afghanistan in late August, for example, the party had no unified alternative plan for the country. Leading 2020 hopefuls like Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris didn’t even issue a statement on America’s longest-running war. The most recent Democratic Party standard bearer, Hillary Clinton, sounded very similar to Republicans on foreign policy. On Syria, for example, her plan — imposing a no fly zone over a swath of the country and increasing US support for rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — is strikingly similar to ideas you hear today from congressional Republicans like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
The Vox article points out that Democrats simply don't have a single major think tank that is progressive and non-interventionist on foreign policy.
The absence of this kind of detailed policy work on the left makes it difficult for left-leaning politicians, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, to translate their general left-of-center principles into actionable policies. Without ready-made policies to pull from, it’s harder for them to engage on foreign affairs in the same way they do on domestic issues.
That’s the concrete way that the lack of left-wing foreign policy think tank work pushes foreign policy to the right.
“This is the iron law of ideas: You can’t beat an idea unless you take the time to think of a better one,” says Dan Drezner, a professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School and author of The Ideas Industry, a book on think tanks. “At least on foreign policy … there’s not a lot of nitty-gritty [on the left].”
The environment for progressive political values in foreign policy today is like progressive political values in domestic policy before OWS.
The words and ideas don't even exist to most Americans. What Sanders is doing today is trying to begin a discussion that will take years to fully form.
Establishment Dems will be no help.
Opposition to Trump has been framed in ways that supports the agenda of the Democratic Party—but not the anti-war agenda. Therefore, anti-Trumpism does not include a position against war and U.S. imperialism.
This is a big deal, because you can bet that Trump will start a major war in the next few years. Congressional Democrats will fully support him when he does.
It is up to progressives to develop an alternative foreign policy vision before that happens.
Progressives should worry about how quickly military action could occur under a fickle, erratic president. “With the Iraq War, there was a months-long buildup—cases made to the U.N., State of the Union addresses,” Wikler told me. “Trump could start a war without that kind of lead time.” Zaheed alluded to the generals surrounding the president. “Trump is leading a regime that’s out of control and almost thirsting for war,” he said. “It really behooves the progressive movement to prepare accordingly.” That preparation can’t be simply about opposing Trump’s foreign policy, said Khanna. “In a philosophic framework we have to have a critique of where neoliberal and neoconservative foreign policy has gotten us,” he told me. “I’m not sure we have the consensus in Congress.... If we wait until there’s a crisis without having a coherent philosophical framework then it could look like it’s just partisan attacks.”
We need to pass legislation that bars taxpayer dollars from supporting terrorist groups & their Gulf sponsors alike. #StopArmingTerrorists
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) September 21, 2017