The primary purpose of this article isn’t to make any of Bernie Sanders’ Democratic or Republican competition look comparatively good – regardless of who’s elected the next president of the United States, the builders of the American Empire, particularly weapon manufacturers, will be happy.
The intent of this piece is to call out Democrats, liberals and progressives who are hysterically supporting Bernie Sanders, while still calling themselves supporters of peace.
As David Masciotra wrote in Salon, “Liberal supporters of Sanders who … flippantly cast concerns about his collusion with the Pentagon establishment aside with “no one is perfect” or “better than Hillary” refrains, should scrutinize their own values, and answer how they rank more refugees, corpses and amputees in the Middle East and Africa against largely unenforceable rhetoric about “standing up to Wall Street.”
The worst part of the silence surrounding America’s aggression is not the obliviousness of average Americans, but the indifference of liberal activists… Rebuttals involving his excellent policy proposals on healthcare, education, and social services are insufficient: No issue rises above the moral, political and financial emergency of war and militarism,” stated Masciotra.
Opposing war is an either/or
For a person to say they are opposed to U.S. wars while supporting and voting for a candidate who is not 100% opposed to all wars is straight-up hypocrisy. And Sanders doesn’t come anywhere close to 100%. Indeed, he’s closer to 0%: Sanders supports current US engagements in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and Ukraine.
Sanders also participates in the dangerous provocation of Russia and Iran, and is vague, at best, on the Israel Palestine issue (he typically votes for funding to Israel and supported their 2014 war on Gaza).
To make matters worse, Sanders has said he would continue Barack Obama’s deadly drone program, which is to say he supports the way wars will be waged in the future. This is the same drone program that results in the killing of innocent people. According to documents revealed by Jeremy Scahill, during one five month period, US drone strikes only killed 10% of their intended targets – in other words, 90% of those killed were innocent civilians. Sanders wants to continue such a program.
Caring about overseas victims of US wars is lowest on the totem pole
Why is war the one area in which liberals are willing to accept the "lesser of two evils?" Why do they accept promises of "less war" in place of guarantees of "no war?"
To emphasize this point, consider the outrage in respective circles if the following were to happen:
- Gloria Allred donated money to the Bill Cosby rape defense fund.
- PETA members purchased products from a cosmetic company that does animal testing.
- David Duke donated money to the Black Lives Matter movement.
- The Occupy movement endorsed a pro-Wall Street candidate.
- Members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving helped publicize an Anheuser-Busch ad campaign.
- Caitlyn Jenner endowed a chair at Liberty University.
Preposterous, right? But it’s happening right now with self-described antiwar liberals.
Talking out of both sides of his mouth
Liberals cheer when Sanders says he doesn’t want to kick Muslims out of the US, but they turn a blind eye to the fact that he wants Muslims in the Middle East to bomb and shoot each other.
But since he’s not as much of a hawk as Hillary Clinton, liberals are enthusiastically supporting him.
Would those same liberals support Sanders if he were just a little bit better than – but still bad – on gay marriage, the environment, workers rights, race relations and a woman’s right to choose?
Of course they wouldn’t. For liberals to rationalize their support of Sanders on the basis that his foreign policy is not as imperialistic as Clinton’s speaks volumes. Consider if one rationalized their support for:
- al-Qaeda because they are less brutal than ISIS.
- A rapist because he only rapes adults but not children.
- An airline pilot who comes to work high on cocaine but not heroin.
- The premise that Warren Buffet is part of the working class because his wealth accumulation is less than Bill Gates’.
And Sanders supporters fail to recognize the obvious: Sanders panders to the war machine. If Sanders does this in order to become president, imagine what he’d do in his re-election bid? After tasting the nectar of being the "most powerful man in the world" does anyone seriously believe Sanders would stop accommodating the architects of the American Empire?
As the World Socialist Website wrote, "if Sanders goes on to win the Democratic nomination and the presidency, he will betray the aspirations of his supporters flagrantly and with extraordinary speed. A thousand excuses will be brought forward to explain why the wars must continue abroad and nothing can be done to rein in Wall Street at home. Bernie Sanders is not the herald of [a movement outside the two-party system], but a false prophet who is neither genuinely socialist nor genuinely independent."
When asking a liberal why Obama hasn’t shut down Guantanamo Bay as promised, they spout something like, "one person can’t change everything." If that’s the case, then why should anyone care who gets elected president?
Those who claim to be antiwar but who support pro-war presidential candidates are disingenuous and diminish what it truly means to be antiwar.
Chris Ernesto is cofounder of St. Pete for Peace, an antiwar organization in St. Petersburg, FL that has been active since 2003. Mr. Ernesto also created and manages OccupyArrests.com and USinAfrica.com.