January 26, 2016

#DemDebate sour note: Bernie the #warhawk in the #WarOnTerror

I blogged last week how Bernie Sanders could expand the range of his 1-note trumpet and talk about a variety of foreign policy issues that relate directly to economic justice, or, per his history of marching with Martin Luther King Jr., to other issues of social justice.

Unfortunately, to the degree he has extended his 1-note trumpet beyond the shores of the United States, he's hit some sour notes so far.

Last week Sunday's Democratic debate, per the photo-poster at left, is a perfect example.

On ISIS, this thinks in terms of old-fashioned wars with definite ending points. Even if one buys into establishmentarian ideas about the "War on Terror," the idea that it has a definite finish line is a false note. One contains and controls ISIS, like the Red Brigades or Provisional IRA, while hoping and waiting for internal quarrels and factionalism to help.

To me, this is in part a carry-over from the wrongheadedness of the War on Drugs, preceded by a few years by the War on Cancer, and the War on Poverty.

In traditional views of wars, with winners and losers, NONE of these things are "wars." None of them should have been called such.

It was scientific hubris over the War on Cancer; the others were all political grandstanding, as is the War on Terror. (And yes, liberals and even left-liberals can grandstand just like rightists.)

In other words, this isn't about "beating" ISIS. It's about not investing too much political, or military, energy into dealing with ISIS at all.

Sadly, though, one Sanders follower, with the name of Bernie Press but purely unofficial (I don't know if Sanders' staff has grounds to pursue a Twitter account issue) buys into the same, in spades:
I hope such ideas aren't held by a large number of ardent Sanders supporters, let alone dyed-in-the-wool Berniebros. I also hope they're not held as ardently by Sanders himself as by some of his followers. But, I know they are held to some degree.

And, I'll venture they are strongly held by a fair number of "Berniebros."

To put it bluntly: Sarah Palin's also talking about "kicking ISIS ass." If that's what you want, I want no part of you.

(Sidebar, with note that I'm thinking about a full blog post just on stuff like this now. We now have, as of late last week, a new Sanders campaign ad. Nice, but not "astounding," contra the Upworthy-style breathlessness of a site that calls itself the Bernie Post, and says, as when showing that campaign ad:
The Bernie Post is the only media outlet dedicated to covering Bernie Sanders’ presidential election campaign. Please consider making a donation so we are able to continue our efforts.

Bullshit. As I said back, Burlington, Vermont's alt-weekly has a 'vertical," as the Kool Kids say, devoted to Sanders, as one example. Another issue is, what is a "media outlet" and what is "covering"? Some Berniebro starts a blog and claims he's a "media outlet" who is "covering" Sanders on a dedicated basis. This looks like a huckster shilling for money. Maybe that Bernie Press, on Twitter, will be looking to sell swag. 

Anyway, Sanders-themed charlatanry will be that blog post's theme, if I write it.) 

A recent extensive interview by 2012 Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein, in the section on the Paris terrorist attack and following, explain more about why I'm not interested in "kicking ISIS ass" and certainly not interested in the mindset behind it.

I've talked elsewhere in this blog about the difference between stereotypes and generalizations. I think what that portmanteau says about younger male Sanders supporters is a generalization, not a stereotype. I suspect that in some degree they're like a hipster version of "rugged Christianity" young male backers of Teddy Roosevelt.

Also, per Mondoweiss, we're reminded that Sanders lived on a kibbutz and may well have a romanticized view of the creation of Israel.

On Assad, I am once again reminded of Abraham Lincoln's comment when told he had to get rid of Gen. George McClellan.

He asked who he should replace McClellan with and was told "Anybody!"

Lincoln responded that he had to have "somebody," not "anybody."

But for the man who lusts for the F-35s for the Vermont National Guard and other warhawkery, this is nothing new. Yes, the ISIS issue, we might call throwaway. Even there, though, you're not going to outrhetoric Hillary Clinton; she's already made that clear. But, the Assad issue is pandering to establishmentarian foreign policy. Sy Hersch has shown that Dear Leader may have cherry-picked anti-Assad info on chemical warfare. Since then, he's shown that the Defense Intelligence Agency, during the period Gen. Martin Dempsey was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, undercut Obama's own stance on Syria, worried about its fallout.

And, I don't agree a lot with the scrambled eggs and braids folks, but on this, they were right. Half the anti-Assad opposition was pro-ISIS or close. And, otherwise, getting rid of Hafez Assad is a repeat for the clusterfuck of what happened after we got rid of Saddam Hussein.

Plus, Bernie, the only way we're getting rid of Assad is "boots on the ground."

How many do you want to kill?

For me, the No. 1 foreign policy issue is killing the TPP.

No. 2 is coming to some sort of accord — with necessary Russian buy-in — on Assad, if possible. Unlike some Green-leaning types, I will practice Realpolitik in foreign policy.

No. 3 is devising the best reasonable ISIS containment policy.

No. 4 is restarting the Palestine-Israel talks in a meaningful way, including expanding BDS to the degree it has teeth, and also following on the EU on labeling products made in Israeli factories in occupied Palestine

See how different that is? (Ted Rall has vaguely and broadly similar critiques in a shorter, broader overall critique.)

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