Sanders should declare a foreign policy of working with Iran in a ‘post-hegemonic’ world — Pampinella

Middle EastUS Politics
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Foreign Affairs today has an important piece by Stephen Pampinella, titled “Bernies’ World,” urging Bernie Sanders to articulate a foreign policy in which the U.S. would get over its imperial status and “share power with rising hegemons in a system that treats all states as equals.” That means normalizing relations with Iran now and putting teeth into international law, in direct opposition to Hillary Clinton’s aggressive, neoconservative-lite positions.

Pampinella is a scholar of international relations at SUNY New Paultz. He begins by saying what was clear from last night’s debate: all eyes are on Sanders to come up with foreign policy vision that has the power of his domestic ideas:

On domestic policy, Sanders has pushed Clinton to the left, bringing discussions of economic inequality and financial regulation to the forefront of the campaign. But when it comes to foreign policy, Sanders has been much less influential. Many assume that he just can’t compete on foreign policy with Clinton, who served as secretary of state for four years. In the last two televised debates, Sanders offered glimpses of his views on U.S. engagement with Iran and the need for multilateral coalitions to fight the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), but he has yet to offer a comprehensive foreign policy vision.

He would not have to look far for one. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the inspiration for the “democratic socialism” that underpins Sanders’ domestic policy, can also provide the inspiration for how Sanders might engage in foreign policy. By embracing Roosevelt’s pursuit of great power cooperation within international institutions and international law, Sanders can articulate what the Princeton University professor John Ikenberry has described as a post-hegemonic foreign affairs strategy: the United States would relinquish its dominant role in maintaining a liberal world order and instead share power with rising hegemons in a system that treats all states as equals.

That means Sanders should fully own his idea of normalizing relations with Iran:

Iran is willing to cooperate on shared interests in the region. The agreement has also empowered Iranian moderates, such as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at the expense of hard-liners bent on regional domination. Given these developments, it is wise for Sanders to open the door to eventual diplomatic normalization with Iran, as he hinted he would in the last debate before the Iowa caucus. The long-term goal should be the development of a great power consensus about the final status of Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. should back up its commitment to international law:

A Sanders administration could complement its pursuit of great power concert with a renewed commitment to Roosevelt’s postwar vision of international institutions and law. Sanders’ rejection of regime change and the unilateral use of U.S. military force are good first steps in this direction.

Pampinella says these twin ideas could become a vision that Americans would embrace, in direct contrast to Clinton’s “persistent hostility,” and thus would send the neocons packing, from both parties:

Sanders’ articulation of a post-hegemonic vision of foreign affairs could form the strongest challenge yet to neoconservatives in both the Democratic and Republican parties. For example, Sanders could contrast his openness toward Iran with Clinton’s persistent hostility and connect her past support for regime change to future attempts at dominance. By strongly embracing international law and human rights, Sanders could initiate a broader challenge to exceptionalist understandings of the United States’ role in the world. Over time, internationalist ideas might become more acceptable, in the same way that “socialist” positions have become increasingly popular today.

Pampinella doesn’t mention the name Israel and it seems intentional. This vision of foreign policy would of course eclipse the special relationship in a heartbeat. It would expose Israel to war crimes prosecution, and offer a Pax Iran to quell the unrest in the Middle East. It would do what so many folks in our community want to do, marginalize the Israel lobby by presenting a strong counter-force.

It ain’t going without a struggle. Alternet reports that Haim Saban is — no surprise– pouring money into the Hillary Clinton campaign. This follows her letter to Saban vowing to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Then there was her fulsome Israel-loving speech at the Saban Forum, when she said that she and Israel were born months apart and she will invite Netanyahu to the  Alternet:

Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl together contributed $5 million to the Hillary Clinton Super PAC—Priorities USA Action—between 2015 and 2016 alone, according to disclosures available on OpenSecrets.org, affiliated with the Center for Responsive Politics.

While the contributions are not surprising from long-time Clinton-backers, $3 million of them notably poured in after the presidential hopeful authored a letter to Haim Saban in July of 2015, seeking advice on “how we can work together” to defeat the growing movement to Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction (BDS) Israel.

Thanks to Adam Horowitz and Peter Belmont.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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13 Responses

  1. yourstruly
    February 5, 2016, 2:25 pm

    Working with Iran and also with Russia.

  2. Keith
    February 5, 2016, 5:26 pm

    PHIL- “Foreign Affairs today has an important piece by Stephen Pampinella, titled “Bernies’ World,” urging Bernie Sanders to articulate a foreign policy in which the U.S. would get over its imperial status and “share power with rising hegemons in a system that treats all states as equals.”

    “Foreign Affairs” is published by the Council on Foreign Relations. The fact that this viewpoint even appeared in “Foreign Affairs” is significant.

  3. JLewisDickerson
    February 5, 2016, 5:31 pm

    RE: “Foreign Affairs today has an important piece by Stephen Pampinella, titled ‘Bernies’ World’, urging Bernie Sanders to articulate a foreign policy in which the U.S. would get over its imperial status and ‘share power with rising hegemons in a system that treats all states as equals’. That means normalizing relations with Iran now and putting teeth into international law . . .” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Unfortunately, the U.S. apparently believes that international law is meant to be interpreted in a lenient manner. Sometimes the U.S. leans one way and sometimes it leans the other.

    The Good Old U.S.A.* also seems to believe that the world is so full of crap, a country’s gonna get into it sooner or later whether it’s careful or not.

    I’m not exactly certain where these notions hail from, but what do you expect from a country where a cowboy rides the range astride his trusty steed during the day, and then goes honky-tonkin’ for most of the night with a pink Caddy convertible for his ride?

    * J. W. Myers “The Good Old U.S.A.” Victor 4761 (1906) Jack Drislane & Theodore Morse

    J. W. Myers sings “The Good Old U.S.A.” on Victor 4761, recorded on May 29, 1906 (words by Jack Drislane, music by Theodore Morse).
    • LYRICS – https://www.facebook.com/jlewisdickerson/posts/10207844852255872

    • JLewisDickerson
      February 6, 2016, 8:10 pm

      RE: “Unfortunately, the U.S. apparently believes that international law is meant to be interpreted in a lenient manner. Sometimes the U.S. leans one way and sometimes it leans the other… I’m not exactly certain where these notions hail from . . . – me (from above)

      WATCH: The Darker Myths of Empire: Heart of Darkness Series ~ By Michael Parenti [VIDEO, 1:23:00] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOF56wYTl1w

      Published on May 11, 2012
      College of DuPage, Writers Read, Heart of Darkness Series – “The Darker Myths of Empire” Michael Parenti Jason Snart, SRC 2800, November 16, 2005

      • JLewisDickerson
        February 7, 2016, 5:35 am

        P.S. ALSO WATCH: “The Untold History of The US ~ Bush & Obama Age of Terror”, By Oliver Stone [Top Documentary Films] (VIDEO, 58:39) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_0S80jMeg0

        Published on Apr 18, 2015
        Bush & Obama – Age of Terror (Season 1, Episode 10 of The Untold History of The US
        Homeland Security, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a worldwide global Security State. The cannibalization of the U.S. economy continues. Obama and the destiny of the American Empire. Directed and narrated by Oliver Stone.

        P.P.S. SEE THESE TWO IMAGES:

        ■ America the Beautiful I

        ■ America the Beautiful II

  4. italian ex-pat
    February 6, 2016, 9:58 am

    I know I’ve already made quite clear my views regarding Bernie Sanders’ reluctance to address foreign policy in his speeches, which is seen by some as weakness and lack of a clear vision.

    Yes, of course he would endear himself and generate a lot of enthusiasm in certain quarters if he spoke up passionately about Palestinian rights and the importance of friendly relations with former foes like Iran. Unfortunately, he would also lose any chance of winning the Democratic nomination. The American people are slow to accept sudden changes; Iran is still a not quite trustworthy entity, in spite of the nuclear agreement; just look at how hard Obama and Kerry had to work to reach that end, even after all the other countries involved had been on board for some time. Russia is still the big bad bear aiming to spread Communism to the entire world, when she has no such ambition and in fact could be a good economic partner and a valuable asset in fighting ISIS and global terrorism.

    So I think Bernie is absolutely right in not touching such controversial issues unless pressed to, and then only to point out Hillary’s dismal record (Libya, anyone? Iraq, Syria? Anything good?).
    He should continue to stick to his message on income disparity, disappointing progress on job creation, corruption by big money in politics, obscene funding of the military industrial complex, whose only raison d’etre is instigating unnecessary wars. These are the issues that resonate with the majority of voters, and which – if we are very, very lucky – might bring about the miracle of a Sanders presidency, and the political and economic revolution this country so desperately needs.

    • Mary T
      February 6, 2016, 6:47 pm

      Hard to argue with this, but I will. I believe American democracy can survive only if candidates are honest about what they plan to do if elected, regardless of whether that may cost them the election. Obama is an example of one who was not completely honest, and, as a result, many are disappointed in his presidency.

      • italian ex-pat
        February 7, 2016, 1:56 pm

        Sorry, Mary T, but your argument doesn’t hold any water.

        Candidates HAVE to base their campaign strategy on the wishes of the electorate. Doesn’t mean they should lie, but in politics being totally ‘honest’ doesn’t win elections – and you seem to think that’s OK. Let’s let the guy who is a good liar win. Seriously?

        Should Hillary announce that, if elected, she will pay back her wealthy Zionist donors by doing her very best to help Israel take over all of Palestine? That’s what she is likely promising them, but you don’t hear her saying THAT in the debates. I guess that makes her less than honest.

        You bring up Obama and his lack of honesty. Let me remind you, he gave his Cairo speech and his stern warnings to Netanyahu ( re: the settlements) AFTER he was elected. Had he done it before the primaries – being ‘honest’, as you say – he wouldn’t have had a snowflake chance in hell of winning the nomination. So yes, many are disappointed in him, but with him out of the race in ’08, where would we be now? Either Hillary as president (after all , it was ‘her time’ even then!) or McCain-Palin. Think about that.

      • echinococcus
        February 7, 2016, 6:43 pm

        Expat,

        Think? Wouldn’t have made a single atom of difference for the Palestinians. What would Mc Cain or the Empress do? Arm or support the Zionists? Applaud the bombardment of Gaza? Anything Obama hasn’t done?

    • Misterioso
      February 6, 2016, 7:39 pm

      http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/u-s-election-2016/.premium-1.701787

      Excerpt:

      “Sanders in 1990: ‘Wish U.S. Would Pressure Israel Harder on Palestinian Issue'”

      “In a recently resurfaced [1990] interview with Haaretz, Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, also said that as a Jew, he feels embarrassed by Israel’s arms trade with Latin American dictators.”

      Ofer Aderet. Feb 06, 2016 8:48 PM, Haaretz.

  5. gingershot
    February 7, 2016, 11:46 am

    In her letter to Saban Hillary also promised to try to work against the coming UN Security Council resolution against Israel

  6. hophmi
    February 8, 2016, 3:24 pm

    “share power with rising hegemons in a system that treats all states as equals”

    I would call this naive, but that’s not strong enough. It’s silly and dumb. And of course, Iran would never view itself as equal to, say, Yemen, or Lebanon or Syria, states in its sphere of influence.

  7. German Lefty
    February 11, 2016, 11:37 am

    Here’s what Bernie’s campaign website says about his position:
    http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-israel-and-the-palestinians/
    I have the impression that they want to make him look like he’s tough on Israel. They explain that “Jewish” is not the same “Israeli”.

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