Trending Topics:

Iraq war hangover is fueling anti-establishment candidates

US Politics
on 20 Comments

Bernie Sanders came out of his meeting at the White House with the president yesterday talking, hoarsely, about the price young people paid for the terrible decision to invade Iraq. He reminded the press that he had differed with Hillary Clinton about the wisdom of that undertaking 13 years ago.

Look frankly, and we did talk about this– as you all know, I voted against the war in Iraq. And that’s a major point of difference between Secretary Clinton and myself. We both received the same information, and we came to a different conclusion. And as I mentioned to the president, I, In my small state of Vermont went to too, too many funerals of wonderful young people. And I’m very happy to tell you that in the last few years I have not gone to funerals of young men or women in our military. I think what the president is trying to do is the right thing. And what he’s trying to do is keep our young people out of a perpetual war in the the quagmire of the Middle East.

Sanders also highlighted his opposition to the war at the Democratic town hall in Iowa on Monday night, and in his hoarse speech in Mason City, IA, last night.

The Iraq war was supposed to be over years ago. But it is hanging around this year’s election. In fact, it is propelling the two leading insurgents in their respective parties, Sanders and Donald Trump. Notwithstanding Trump’s bigotry on Hispanics and Muslims, both he and Sanders are “anti-establishment” candidates who were thought to have no chance in Iowa last spring, the New York Times’s Trip Gabriel asserted to NPR’s Terry Gross yesterday. And both are mounting serious runs.

I believe that the war is having such staying power because there has never been true accountability for that decision. The establishment that brought it to us is still largely in power. Many leading politicians were for the war, as were so many of the knowledge producers. All the liberal-hawk pundits are still around– Jeffrey Goldberg attended the president’s speech last night at the Israeli Embassy. The neoconservative thinkers who dreamed it up are still all over the thinktanks and the Republican establishment.

Last week Chris Matthews went on a tear against the neoconservatives for attacking Trump. Matthews argued that all the writers behind the “Against Trump” issue of the National Review, as well as the Weekly Standard’s anti-Trump issue, were neoconservatives who had supported the Iraq War.

“These guys are all war hawks. That’s why they don’t like Trump. Because he’s the only guy on the right who says it was a stupid war, we shouldn’t have fought it. And these guys’ heart and soul is with that war…. Regime change is in their blood stream. And Trump’s saying it’s stupid for us to play that war… All these guys are hawks. And Donald Trump says no.

As Trump did in this tweet that helped knock down Jeb Bush:

FLASHBACK via @Reuters from 2004: “Donald Trump Would ‘Fire’ Bush Over Iraq Invasion” It’s called great vision.

Bill Kristol is leading the charge against Trump– and for Marco Rubio– with such hopeful tweets as this one:

Re-upping my IA prediction from yesterday: Cruz 30, Trump 25, Rubio 22, no one else above 6%.

Or this plaintive appeal:

Trump supporters:You want to send a message, defy political correctness, etc. Fine. But do you really think Trump would be a good president?

Today on NPR Jonah Goldberg said that Trump is standing in the way of the best Republican talent in a generation. He means Rubio, the neoconservative favorite– who has taken time off the presidential campaign to sponsor legislation to condemn European measures to label Israeli settlement goods as such.

Back to Sanders: last night again he cited his 2002 speech on the House floor against the Iraq War. He said it gave him no pleasure to say it was prescient. But it was. He said:

I am concerned about the problems of so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed, and what role will the US play in an ensuing civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in that region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists?


Extremists? Sanders can now say that the establishment that gave us the Iraq War also gave us ISIS.

And there has never been any real accountability for that horrible decision. Which is why the presidential race looks the way it does.


About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

Other posts by .

Posted In:

20 Responses

  1. Scott
    January 28, 2016, 3:20 pm

    Buchanan column making parallel point. Enjoy PJB’s shout out to Sanders.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. [1/22/16] — The lights are burning late in Davos tonight.

    At the World Economic Forum, keynoter Joe Biden warned global elites that the unraveling of the middle class in America and Europe has provided “fertile terrain for reactionary politicians, demagogues peddling xenophobia, anti-immigration, nationalist, isolationist views.”

    Evidence of a nationalist backlash, said Biden, may be seen in the third parties arising across Europe, and in the U.S. primaries.

    But set aside Joe’s slurs — demagogues, xenophobia.

    Who really belongs in the dock here? Who caused this crisis of political legitimacy now gripping the nations of the West?

    Was it Donald Trump, who gives voice to the anger of those who believe themselves to have been betrayed? Or the elites who betrayed them?

    Can that crowd at Davos not understand that it is despised because it is seen as having subordinated the interests of the nations and people in whose name it presumes to speak, to advance an agenda that serves, first and foremost, its own naked self-interest?

    The political and economic elites of Davos have grow rich, fat and powerful by setting aside patriotism and sacrificing their countries on the altars of globalization and a New World Order.

    No more astute essay has been written this political season than that of Michael Brendan Dougherty in “The Week,” where he describes how, 20 years ago, my late friend Sam Francis predicted it all.

    In Chronicles magazine, in March 1996 (“From Household To Nation”), Francis, a paleoconservative and proud son of the South, wrote:

    “Sooner or later, as the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interest and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives. The sooner it comes, the better.”

    What we saw through a glass darkly then, we now see face to face.

    Is not Trump the personification of the populist-nationalist revolt Francis predicted?

    And was it not presidents and Congresses of both parties who mired us in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and negotiated the trade deals that have gutted American industry?

    The bleeding of factories and manufacturing jobs abroad has produced the demoralization and decline of our middle class, along with the wage stagnation and shrinking participation in the labor force.

    Is Trump responsible for that? Is Socialist Bernie Sanders, who voted against all those trade deals?

    If not, who did this to us?

    Was it not the Bush Republicans and Clinton Democrats?

    Americans never supported mass immigration.

    It was against their will that scores of millions, here legally and illegally, almost all from Third World countries, whose masses have never been fully assimilated into any western nation, have poured into the USA.

    Who voted for that?

    Religious, racial, cultural diversity has put an end to the “bad” old America we grew up in, as we evolve into the “universal nation” of Ben Wattenberg, who once rhapsodized, “The non-Europeanization of America is heartening news of an almost transcendental quality.”

    James Burnham, the ex-Trotskyite and Cold War geo-strategist whose work Francis admired, called liberalism “the ideology of Western suicide.”

    If the West embraces, internalizes and operates on the principles of liberalism, Burnham wrote, the West with meet an early death.

    Among the dogmas of liberalism is the unproven assumption that peoples of all nationalities, tribes, cultures, creeds can coexist happily in nations, especially in a “creedal” nation like the USA, which has no ethnic core but rather is built upon ideas.

    A corollary is that “diversity,” a new America and new Europe where all nations are multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual, is the future of the west and the model for mankind.

    Yet, large and growing minorities in every country of Europe, and now in America, believe that not only is this proposition absurd, the end result could be national suicide.

    And when one considers the millions who are flocking to Trump and Sanders, it is hard to believe that the establishments of the two parties, even if they defeat these challengers, can return to same old interventionist, trade, immigration and war policies.

    For Trump is not the last of the populist-nationalists.

    Given his success, other Republicans will emulate him. Already, other candidates are incorporating his message. The day Francis predicted was coming appears to have arrived.

    Angela Merkel may have been Time’s Person of the Year in 2016, but she will be lucky to survive in office in 2017, if she does not stop the invasion from Africa and the Middle East.

    Yet Joe Biden’s dismissal that it is reactionaries who oppose what the progressives of Davos believe is not entirely wrong. For as Georges Bernanos wrote, when Europe was caught between Bolshevism and fascism: To be a reactionary means simply to be alive, because only a corpse does not react any more – against the maggots teeming on it.

    • Krauss
      January 29, 2016, 5:34 am

      Interesting column from Buchanan. I’ve always viewed the GOP’s dominance with working-class whites as a form of racial politics.

      The problem for the white working-class is that they either had a party, the democrats, which essentially sided with the ethnic lobbies like La Raza against the economic interests of their base and the GOP, which has always been controlled by the Chamber of Commerce, and the plutocratic interests it represents(cheap labour).

      This was all compounded by a press which attacked anyone discussing immigration as a “nativist”. I think its fair to say quite a number of people who pushed for open borders did so out of their own racial self-interest. I’ve remarked, and so have people like Max Blumenthal, that a lot of Jewish Zionists who are very liberal on immigration in America are VERY hardline on (non-Jewish) immigration for Israel.

      Pat Buchanan isn’t a liberal, and I view him as a social reactionary, but I can nevertheless appreciate his honesty. The people who attacked him and tried to drive him out of the establishment(and largely succeeded) are hypocrites. People like Kristol, Podhoretz etc. And yes, there is an ethnic angle here. Those people were motivated in large part by Jewish nationalism, how to safeguard the Jewish interests(as they saw it) in America, which means a nation which is diverse and highly accomodative to minorities. I agree with that, but I don’t see how you can push for that vision in America but the opposite in Israel and claim you’re for a liberal democracy, when your support largely hinges on whether you’re in a majority or in a minority.

      As for Biden’s warnings, I saw a similar warning coming from Hague in the Telegraph a few days ago. One is a leftist, the other a rightist, but those labels matter far less than if they are a globalist or not. That’s also what unites Sanders and Trump, even if they are quite different, both have a deep skepticism toward foreign intervention, towards the so-called “free trade deals” which mostly meant outsourcing American blue-collar work and a large range of issues where the global Western elites are largely in agreement.

      The dividing line in Western politics is no longer right vs left, but establishment vs non-establishment, interventionist or non-interventionist. This is what the elites fear. Their “concensus”, which was always a top-down castle made out of sand, is falling apart before their eyes.

      • echinococcus
        February 2, 2016, 7:56 am


        At the end of the day, with regard to our only common interest, i.e. Palestinian rights and resistance, a reactionary like Buchanan is definitely an ally, while Clinton, Sanders and the whole GOP series all represent the enemy. As for Sanders’ pretended “skepticism toward foreign intervention”, one still has to see any shadow of a sign of it in his record.

    • traintosiberia
      January 29, 2016, 9:14 pm

      “At the World Economic Forum, keynoter Joe Biden warned global elites that the unraveling of the middle class in America and Europe has provided “fertile terrain for reactionary politicians, demagogues peddling xenophobia, anti-immigration, nationalist, isolationist ,

      I wonder how Biden found that out? Did he think of that scenario arising out of pre emotive wars,murderous society destroying sanctions and targeted assassination or drone attacks on children and women in the lands far removed from Davos? Or like his neocon counterparts he thought that certain human reactions could only be expected among white western people and not among Arabs or Muslims?

    • February 1, 2016, 11:52 pm

      This article is filled with scare mongering, demagogy, and validation of white fears over reason and rationality. Trump is a troll who has no right to be compared to Bernie, who premiership is the only hope for America to avoid a catastrophic implosion and disintegration.

      Minorities are simply a statistical term, and should not be a political issue in America which promises equal rights to ALL of its citizens. The issue is not minorities, but white Americans with European roots who embodies all the values that America stand against, such as racism, sexism, xenophobia and many more.

      Also, it is rich for the author to be talking about the masses of brown illegals, when it was white people who stole the land from native Americans and continue to profit of this theft.

      Anyways, the article is so full of BS its kinda amusing. I am enjoying white people losing their minds over the fear of losing their unearned privileges. I am totally here for this. #FeeltheBern

      • Mooser
        February 2, 2016, 12:23 pm

        “Rugal B” for gawd’s sake, watch the “redline”. You do any more RPMs and you’ll throw a rod.

        And you don’t think maybe Bernie will be satisfied with the Presidency, instead of the “premiership”?

    • echinococcus
      February 2, 2016, 8:01 am

      Note re your quote from the ur-reactionary Bernanos: “reactionary” as a political designation has zilch, null, nada to do with “reacting”; it represents extreme authoritarianism, iron hand government, wall-to-wall repression. It is not necessarily fascism, as the latter term includes other, even less appetizing characteristics regarding imperialism, state structure, etc.
      Bernanos’ egregious attempt to deviate the discussion is not the only one on the record.

  2. pabelmont
    January 28, 2016, 3:58 pm

    Bernie’s got a good point and Clinton should be made to smart for it, she the neocon hawk.

    Trump may (perhaps) be making the same point, but I sense it is lost in the welter of his other complaints. Still, in a Trump v. Clinton election, pro-Iraq-war-ism is sure to come up, along with emails and the rather general hatred of Clinton (at least among Republicans).

    • echinococcus
      February 2, 2016, 8:05 am

      I still would like solid fact from the public record of votes and statements to support the advertising leitmotiv of B. Sanders not being a “neocon hawk”. Most Palestinians, Yemenites, Ukraine Russians, Syrians, Afghans etc. may disagree when looking at it.

      Just as a reminder, pushing Sanders as “opposing” the Iraq war is wrongity wrong. Look up AUMF, already mentioned several times and systematically ignored by the hopeful, hope-full groupies.

  3. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    January 29, 2016, 1:58 am

    I think that the economy: better than most of the western world but still really stagnant wages and thus a lukewarm recovery, is the primary mover of the anti establishment candidates. The war against Iraq is a factor, but I would put it behind the economy as the primary factor.

    • Donald
      January 29, 2016, 8:21 am

      Probably true, but there is a lot of overlap– people who think our domestic policies are carried out for the benefit of rich people will usually have little trouble believing our foreign policy is also corrupt for similar reasons.

  4. oneangrycomic
    January 29, 2016, 8:23 am

    Rubio “has taken time off the US presidential campaign” to fight BDS in France on behalf of his Zionist masters?

    Ummm, blindly supporting the Apartheid Terrorist state of Israel IS how you run for president in the US! It’s disgraceful and frightening, it makes NO sense – but that’s the way it is! However, with continued victories by organizations like BDS, we WILL eventually throw AIPAC out of DC and take our country back!

    Bill Kristol and his fellow terrorist neocons need to be arrested for treason and put in Israeli spy Pollard’s former cell! And traitors like Kristol goon Sen. Cotton can join them!

  5. James Canning
    James Canning
    January 29, 2016, 1:45 pm

    The idiotic US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and its destruction of that state’s security apparatus, indirectly led to the creation of Isis. The Israel lobby played a key role in setting up the idiotic US invasion of Iraq.

  6. Les
    January 29, 2016, 7:13 pm

    Bernie Sanders’ made a more than apt reference
    to Bezos’ bozos at the Washington Post.

  7. traintosiberia
    January 30, 2016, 9:24 am

    The West has enjoyed the legitimacy since at least the to e when west discovered the rest of the world. The legitimacy was shaky until it found two enemies in its midst- Nazi and communist
    Now it has chosen Islam after some world wide fight against drug and agin bigotry
    Recent war against Islam has tapped into all the known resources- Nazism Communism Drug Laundering Bigotry Tyranny Gender and Religious biases

    This palace is built on some wild card of gossipy H.ooywoodesque propaganda and it will be brought down by its own pillars





  8. Kathleen
    February 1, 2016, 9:10 pm

    Great analysis Phil. MSM talking heads never ever bring up HIllary’s war hawk record. Not Iraq, not Libya, not Syria.. total silence.

    And that latest Bernie ad being defined as “negative” because it points out facts that just do not apply to Hillary but to Rubio, Cruz, Bush etc.

    The Intercept has had some great articles up about the growing challenge from Bernie and his supporters (I am solidly behind him and been doing everything I can).

    Many more great pieces about the race over there. Worth the time to read

    • echinococcus
      February 2, 2016, 7:49 am


      If we did not have to read repeatedly pure propaganda for a candidate with as warmongering a record and as warmongering perspectives as those of Empress Clinton, there would be no need to disturb you (or any other of the diehard “hope” against hope partisans here) every time. The only difference between Sanders and the Empress is that she has been personally in charge of several of the the mass murders committed by the last administration and thus a good candidate for Nuremberg, while Sanders is only a wannabe for the same job (while being a long-time accessory to the US crimes against humanity, with very few exceptions that generally were calculated not to be effective.)
      These are facts about Mr Sanders; you may choose to ignore them, with regard especially to this discussion board’s object, his pushing the genocidal “Labor Zionist” line in fake opposition to, and more dangerous than, the Empress’ Likud line, while distorting what is readily available on the public record or pretending it does not exist is not an option.

      • annie
        February 2, 2016, 3:59 pm

        The only difference between Sanders and the Empress is that she has been personally in charge of several of the the mass murders committed by the last administration and thus a good candidate for Nuremberg, while Sanders is only a wannabe for the same job

        shorter echin: one is a murderer and the other will be (cuz we know it) and therefor both deserve our wrath.

      • echinococcus
        February 2, 2016, 6:45 pm

        Annie: slight correction. We know it cuz he said it and continues to say it himself. He said he is keeping all the forces outside the borders; he announced more wars –he is openly supporting them; he promised to keep the US aggression forces as the strongest in the world; he announced he is not killing the totally illegal imperial drone-murder-by-fiat program –and so on. Once more, the public record is there to be consulted. The guy is obviously an imperialist and a warmonger, and being a candidate to the presidency he obviously wants to become the head murderer.

      • annie
        February 2, 2016, 7:28 pm

        echi, slight correction.

        shorter echin: one is a murderer and the other will be (cuz he said it) and therefor both deserve our wrath.

Leave a Reply