Trending Topics:

Biggest loser in Iowa was foreign policy

US Politics
on 53 Comments

For people who love politics, last night was one of the most exciting nights of our lives. Two great races brought two great surprises; and in his vector-y speech at midnight (not quite a victory) Bernie Sanders could justly claim to have rocked “the economic establishment, the political establishment and by the way, to the media establishment.”

But the biggest loser of the night was foreign policy. Any thought that the Paris and San Bernardino attacks were going to bring a serious conversation about the US policy in the Middle East was dashed. Sanders and his adorers (including this one) say they want a revolution, but he won’t do anything to revolutionize foreign policy. The only candidates to talk about my favorite issue last night, Israel, were both Republicans: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, vowing undying support.

So in the most convulsive political season in anyone’s memory, when outsiders are running against the establishment, and everything is up for grabs, the only ones running against the status-quo foreign policy are doing so from the right wing. Donald Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Chris Christie too will compete over who is going to do the most to smash ISIS. At least Trump is running against the Iraq war.

Bernie Sanders is running against Hillary Clinton’s Iraq decision, and in favor of the Iran Deal, too. But as Jeff Stein states in Newsweek, beyond that he has no foreign policy to speak of. “Is Bernie Sanders a Hawk on Foreign Policy?” Stein asks provocatively, then reports that Sanders has consulted neoconservative Ray Takeyh, liberal interventionist Tamara Cofman Wittes, and liberal Zionist Michael Walzer– but those are just phone calls. Sanders has no foreign policy braintrust and doesn’t want one.

I believe Sanders’s absence of a stable of foreign policy advisers is actually good news. It means that all the “knowledge producers” of the Beltway, the people who explained why the Iraq war was such a good deal and the Iran nuclear agreement such a bad one, are not feeding Sanders horseshit.

But it’s a very passive position on his part. He can’t actually say that we should get the hell out of the Middle East– though he has hinted as much when he calls the Middle East a “quagmire” and says that It’s a war for the soul of Islam, and Muslims should battle this out for themselves. At Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt says that the Obama administration has no Middle East foreign policy either; and it’s simply afraid to say what is clear to anyone from watching the last ten years:

“the fate of the Middle East is going to be determined by the people who live there and not by us, though we might be able to play a constructive role on occasion. And the sooner Americans recognize that they’re better off coaching from the sidelines, instead of getting bloodied on the field, the better off they’ll be.”

I actually think Sanders believes that, too, but Mr. Revolutionary can’t say so aloud, let alone call Steve Walt.

Why can’t he say so aloud– even as he’s battling Wall Street, “the billionaire class,” corporate America, the Koch Brothers, and the health insurance industry– all by name? The reason is the Israel lobby: or to be more precise, the attachment on the part of the Democratic Party elites to the project of sustaining the Jewish state as it comes under attack by Europe and the delegitimizers, the Palestinian solidarity movement and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Sanders can even talk up the Black Lives Matter movement (he addressed the intolerable incarceration rates of people of color in his speech last night) but he is unable to bring himself to openly question blind American support for Israel as a pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

One reason Sanders can’t do that is that he is himself part of the lobby; he has a generational Jewish attachment to Israel, as we have substantiated. And if you watched the coverage on the cables all night, as I did, you know that the media is heavily populated by Jewish conformist types who were at least indoctrinated in Zionism and in some cases are true believers. Yes some of those Jews will do a jailbreak on Zionism; but support for Israel is still an article of faith on the lib-left. Anyone can bash the gun lobby or the Koch Brothers on TV or in the papers; Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both work the National Rifle Association to their political advantage; but our elites still refuse to name the Israel lobby during this political season. Even to name the rightwing Israel lobby that almost brought down the Iran deal.

Because I’m such an optimist and progressive and flagwaver, I think this is all going to change. There is just too much political opportunity in saying, We need to distance ourselves from (occupier/apartheid) Israel. The Democratic populist base wants to hear that message, so does the libertarian Republican constituency; and before us now is such a hard-fought terrain that someone’s got to take that position, starting with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Did I just say that Sanders is a Zionist? Sure; but he’s also a free thinker by temperament and a realist on these questions. He has to know that our Israel policy is screwed up. And Hillary Clinton is on the wrong side of this question because she’s pandering to the billionaire class, in the person of Haim Saban. That’s a political opportunity he’s got to exploit.

Policy depends on knowledge production; and the secret lessons about Middle East policy in the last year were, The Israel lobby is not ten feet tall (AIPAC got crushed), and, It’s OK to edge away from Zionism (from Ban Ki-moon to the Europeans to Haaretz’s non-Zionist conference to the growing closet support for BDS). These lessons can’t escape our politicians forever. Sadly they were nowhere in evidence last night.

PS. Speaking of AIPAC’s grip, it held a gala in New York last night and according to Jewish Insider, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez, who both voted against the Iran deal, spoke to great applause, and the event was closed by hard-right Zionist Daniel Gordis. Menendez is of course under indictment. But look at the roster of those who attended. Notice all the allegedly liberal Democrats. Eric Schneiderman? Letitia James!

Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Jerry Nadler, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Public Advocate Tish James, NYC Councilman David G. Greenfield, Robert and Louise Cohen, Howard Friedman, Elliot Brandt, Brian Shankman, Jay Haberman, Michael Sachs, Barry Mannis, Erika Liles, Phil Rosen, Tamar Remz, Stephen Greenberg, Joshua Landes, Daniel Mael, Michael Miller, Robert Gottheim, Maury Litwack, David Lobl, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Yaacov Behrman, Walter T. Mosley, Pinny Ringel, Dr. Michael Makovsky, Michael Kassen, Leon Goldenberg, Rabbi Meir & Layaliza Soloveichik, Henry Swieca, Ezra Mosseri.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

Other posts by .

Posted In:

53 Responses

  1. Susie Kneedler
    Susie Kneedler
    February 2, 2016, 11:05 am

    Wow, Phil: Thanks for again, as ever, revealing crucial facts the dominant “news” refuse to tell.

  2. pabelmont
    February 2, 2016, 11:14 am

    All the News the Few(s) refuse to Muse. It’s a Ruse to light a Fuse.

  3. Mooser
    February 2, 2016, 11:43 am

    C’mon, Bernie. Brylcreem! Just a little dab will do ya!
    Are you trying for the Tesla effect?

  4. joemowrey
    February 2, 2016, 12:07 pm

    Thanks for pointing out Sander’s lack of a moral conscience regarding Israel. He’s also quite lacking on other foreign policy issues. It will be Empire as usual if he becomes president. (which is never going to be allowed to happen.)

    But to suggest that last night was “the most exciting life of our lives” is pretty sad. The fact that we have a two fascists, a warmongering corporatist, and a faux socialist imperialist running for office should depress everyone. There is nothing to be excited about if one believes that this empire is a cancer on the planet. That’s not going to change, not matter which one of this lot gets elected.

    • lyn117
      February 2, 2016, 5:24 pm

      “… Sandar’s lack of a moral conscience …”

      I regard it not so much as lack of a moral conscience, as utter delusion, which, as Phil says, is generational. Israel was the liberal cause of his generation. In the 1950s and 60s, the facts of the case were pretty well suppressed.

      • joemowrey
        February 2, 2016, 7:22 pm

        But the facts aren’t suppressed now. Will full ignorance about this issue demonstrates a lack of morality. If it is delusion it’s self delusion.

  5. Don
    February 2, 2016, 12:37 pm

    So Phil, can you explain why it seems so extremely difficult for the vast majority of Jews to see the dark side, so to speak, of Israel?

    Without simply typing holocaust in all caps 7 times. (that strikes me as a very insufficient answer). Or am I wrong about that?

  6. lysias
    February 2, 2016, 12:47 pm

    How To Win A Coin Toss Trick – Win Everytime – Easy To Learn Coin Trick – Tutorial.

    A 2-minute Youtube tutorial on how to cheat at coin tosses.

    Clinton wins at least six Iowa precincts by coin flip:

    The Des Moines Register, meanwhile, reported six such coin tosses, including one in Ames, after an apparent miscount of the total number of caucus attendees. Clinton won all six, the Register reported. (One of those six is the same coin toss captured on video by Twitter user Fernando Peinado and portrayed in the tweet embedded above from David Beard.)

    • MHughes976
      February 2, 2016, 1:43 pm

      I read about the tossed coins and the remarkably improbable result this morning – I thought it was impressively fishy and may do the Clinto reputation no good.

    • RoHa
      February 2, 2016, 3:38 pm

      Choosing an American president by coin toss seems as likely to give as good a result as that tedious voting method. That hasn’t turned out so well up to now.

  7. February 2, 2016, 1:04 pm

    I’ll blame the Israel lobby for everything, not for Sanders’ failure to criticize American foreign policy. What can the lobby do to Sanders that it hasn’t done already? The NY Times solidly backs the Saban/Clinton ticket, they come out early with a thoroughly dishonest endorsement, their news coverage routinely ignores him, their op-ed writers dump on him every chance they get — yet he almost wins in Iowa.

    What can the Israel lobby do? Absolutely nothing. They are powerless against Sanders, and if he were as genuine as he wants us to believe he is he could seal the deal right now, by saying (shouting?) three little words.

    Enough American Empire.

    Only a full-throttled Zionist (the WP’s execrable Jennifer Rubin, say) would consider that an attack on Israel, the rest of us, it’s what we’ve been waiting to hear, it’s whom we’ve been waiting to vote for. So why won’t Sanders say it?

    The answer to that is the answer to the question: how does a socialist last in Washington so long? Answer: he’s not. He’s part of the system, through and through.

    P.S. Anyone else think Ted Cruz looks like Mrs. Doubtfire?

    P.P.S. Did you see in Dowd’s column Trump called Krauthammer a moron?Hell, I could almost vote for him for that.

    • annie
      February 2, 2016, 1:22 pm

      P.S. Anyone else think Ted Cruz looks like Mrs. Doubtfire?


      • Pippilin
        February 2, 2016, 6:57 pm

        No, but I think there is a strong resemblance between Cruz and Bill Murray.

    • Mooser
      February 2, 2016, 1:58 pm

      “P.P.S. Did you see in Dowd’s column Trump called Krauthammer a moron?Hell, I could almost vote for him for that.”

      On the other hand, Trump has promised (per TPM) to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Yup.
      And if the Trump Temple was rebuilt, would anybody be surprised? That’s what he does, you know.

      • February 2, 2016, 2:33 pm

        The difference I believe is as president — and by no means rule it out — Trump wouldn’t move the embassy to Jerusalem, he’d still call Krauthammer a moron.

        Clinton can beat Cruz, she can’t beat Trump. Sanders can beat both.

      • Kathleen
        February 3, 2016, 9:12 pm

        As the nation becomes more and more aware of Bernie and what he stands for. If they look at his record and find out how he has generally walked his talk…..I believe his support wtill defy gravitational pull. Just think about how his popularity trajectory has grown in six months. We have not seen a truly progressive candidate on domestic issues and some foreign policy issues get this far in a very long time.

        I love watching my 87 ( has had numerous strokes in the last few years but still plenty with it) year old mother (die hard Dem) every time she hears Bernie speak. She over and over again sits straight up in her lounge chair and says “he is like the Democrats from decades ago. He reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt; She also gets really excited by Senator Warren. She so wants a woman to become President before she dies and she loves Hillary, but she loves Bernie more. Hard for her because of the woman issue.

  8. Kathleen
    February 2, 2016, 3:07 pm

    I generally agree with Walt however this statement is absurd and basically a lie ““the fate of the Middle East is going to be determined by the people who live there and not by us, though we might be able to play a constructive role on occasion. And the sooner Americans recognize that they’re better off coaching from the sidelines, instead of getting bloodied on the field, the better off they’ll be.” Christ all mighty both the Bush administrations and Obama’s administration have interfered, killed, maimed, invaded, toppled dictators, armed rebels and who knows what else sordid activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen.

    After the U.S. has been very much been the actual perpetrator or armed the perpetrators what a twisted time to step back to allow those who are armed to the teeth (many using U.S. left behind or recently supplied arms” not the people of those countries who are going to determine the fate of their worlds. Those with the most weapons and comfortable with complete brutality who will determine the fate of the region. The U.S., U,K. etc have created quite a deadly cesspool with all of their bloody meddling…

    Sanders should pick up Hillary and Flynt Mann Leverett, Paul Pillar, Dr. B, as foreign policy advisers. Professor Cole. How about Plame and Wilson? At the top of the list should be the Leverett’s.

    We cam be sure not one MSM talking head will ask Hillary about her war record in the next debate.

    Come on Sanders is not a hawk. No vote on Iraq came out early supporting deal with Iran. During the one debate Hillary came out and said Sanders supported the military intervention in Libya but cannot find any evidence of that. Since they did not have to vote how can you prove that he supported that intervention and toppling. We have heard him come right out and say that a big difference between him and Hillary is that he is just not that into “regime change.”

    Clearly he and his handlers have decided to steer away from foreign policy and locked down into the common anger among Dems, Republicans and Independents about Wall Street crime and other special interest influence on our elections. That recent ad of his applies to Hillary, Rubio, Cruz, Bush etc.

    I am for one doing everything I can for Bernie. He is by far the best bet for the majority of the American people and a more sane foreign policy.

  9. Kathleen
    February 2, 2016, 3:36 pm

    Bernie ” “the economic establishment, the political establishment and by the way, to the media establishment.”

    My comment about how the MSM will not ask Hillary about foreign policy decisions. Nothing. This was at Meet The Press FB page this past Sunday

    “Meet the Press
    January 31 at 12:00pm ·

    Just 24 hours out from the Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders makes his final Sunday show pitch, and talks up the differences between his vision and former Sec. Hillary Clinton’s vision for America.

    Kathleen Galt Finally this morning on MTP, Tom Brokaw brought up how no one is talking about foreign policy with candidates…including you Chuck Todd. Then Brokaw (clearly a Hillary supporter) takes an opportunity to take a shot at Sanders who he did ask about foreign policy and Brokaw said was “all over the place.” Sanders has repeatedly said the U.s. needs to focus on IS. What Brokaw and all of the other people around that discussion table have completely failed to do is ask Hillary Clinton about her very deadly war hawkish stands as a member of the Senate voting for the Iraq war resolution in 2002 and her continued aggressive and deadly push as Secretary of State for a military intervention in Libya and arming rebels in Syria. All three of these regime change efforts have cost hundreds of thousands of lives, injuries and millions of refugees. Yet somehow you Meet The Press folks and MSNBC folks have failed to bring this neocon war hawk stance of Clinton’s to the fore front. How convenient, selective and oh so telling. What it tells is that you have played softball or no ball at all with Clinton’s aggressive and deadly war policy. Even Joy Reid played the game and said that Rubio’s neocon status was to be examined. Yet Joy Reid completely failed to bring up Clinton’s deadly neocon war record. Nothing brought up about this critical issue on Melissa Harris Perry’s show either where Joy was a guest. Joy said progressives are upset with Obama based on his cave to Wall Street (Eric Holder and Obama Wall Street players, along with Hillary), not getting Single payer. What Joy failed to do is bring up people being rightfully pissed off with Clinton (Iraq) and Obama and then Secretary of State Clinton’s deadly war strategies in Libya and Syria. A huge and calculated over sight by Joy…. Shameful and dishonest on all of your parts. Does not reflect a healthy or unbiased media…….Not sure why Sanders has not gone after Clinton based on the facts with Clinton’s war record. h I still support him based on his voting record, his focus on the corruption in this country and he is far more reasonable than Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. Far more
    Like · Reply · January 31 at 2:05pm · Edited”

  10. kalithea
    February 2, 2016, 3:47 pm

    Now that Rubio is nipping at Trump’s heels it would be the perfect opportunity for Trump to bring up the fact that Rubio is salivating after Sheldon Adelson’s financial backing and that Rubio’s an establishment puppet and has all kinds of corporate backing. And of course Hillary has her super-pac and Saban backing; and she is part of a political dynasty not known for transparency and is a total establishment and Lobby-accredited candidate.

    In the arena of foreign policy the only candidate who makes sense is Rand Paul; that’s all I’m going to say on this except that Americans are again punch drunk when it comes to who’s trust worthy.

    I don’t like any candidate running, and I really don’t like Trump either, because I know he’s running to make Trump king, first, and America great second. but here’s the sad part: a Trump/Sanders match-up would be the only tolerable outcome at this point.

    A Trump or Cruz or Rubio/Hillary election campaign would be political blackout fatigue; Trump against Hillary maybe minimally tolerable.

    The only way that Trump and Sanders get their respective nominations is if both go after Rubio and Clinton as the uber-establishment, lobby-funded, corporate-funded candidates. Trump should stop thinking that Cruz is the threat; Cruz was never his threat, and he should have stuck to being nice to him. Trump’s biggest and most ideological threat is Rubio and he should start hammering away at Rubio and Clinton as two sides of the same coin. This is the strategy that will get him the lead, and will side-line Cruz in the process.

    Sanders has been way too weak in his handling of Hillary. He needs to attack her on foreign policy for the hawk that she is, attack her on her Iraq war support, attack her on her unconditional support of settlement expansion (even if he’s a wuss on the Zionist issue!), attack her on Saban’s backing, attack her on her pathetic role as SoS, attack her as a thoroughly untrustworthy establishment politician; attack her political machinery, attack her lack of transparency….and on and on…there’s so much there not to like with Hillary. Democrats disgust me; they’re the real reason settler expansionism is a runaway train. And how much have they done for blacks lately? Democrats do not own the black cause and Sanders needs to point to the lack of progress in ridding racism and black marginalization in the social and legal system.

    Sanders needs to play the independent card to the hilt with Miss Hillary!

    One more thing; since Hillary won with the dubious squeaker; CNN is now the official media outlet for the Hillary campaign; dropping Trump like a hot potato for now. Hillary’s going viral on CNN today. It’s really sickening. I think I preferred it when Trump was viral; at least I got a laugh once in a while.

  11. Danaa
    February 2, 2016, 4:51 pm

    Good realist take from Phil here. Of course, it’s hard to disagree that the silence on foreign policy on the democratic side is deafening. I also agree that it is wise of Sanders to keep some of his opinions under wraps, but leave us, progressives, a crumb trail to allow guessing of what his positions might be at a future point.

    To add four more to Phil’s points:

    1. Sanders, as an avowed progressive, is in a lose-lose situation should he choose to speak out on the I/P issue. Or for that matter on Syria, or the destructive role played by Saudi Arabia in turning the ME into a bastion of chaos. If he points out the obvious about israel’s slide into apartheid and facsist like tactics, he’ll be greeted by howls and shrieks the decibels of which we can easily imagine. If he comes out as a supporter of israel + the usual blah-blah platitudes, he risks alienating a sizable fraction of his progressive base. Therefore, the best approach for him to take right now is to keep as mum as possible.

    2. Sanders has been in Washington for a long time. Long enough to know how strong the powers-that-be are and their capacity for extreme evil in the service of the eilite’s power. This applies in particular to the new Jewish Mandarin class, who punches with abandon when it feels even remotely threatened. We may agree that AIPAC can punch above its weight, but saying the emperor has no clothes, and actually yelling it from the roof-tops are two different things. One thing sanders is not, is suicidal. he wouldn’t have survived as long as he had otherwise. So, he will play the issue of foreign policy by ear. Gingerly. Waiting until there is a critical mass of support to give him cover, should he choose to come out with a truly independent foreign policy, driven by real-politic concerns.

    3. To the previous point, IMO, what has saved Sanders so far is the very fact that he is jewish. That’s why he doesn’t get the full Ron Paul treatment. Had he not been jewish i doubt he would be treated with what i consider kids’ gloves (Ie being ignored hoping he turns out to be a flash in the pan). Why does this “save” him? because I think the “other side” notices the same bread crumb trail that we do. They suspect that at the very least, he is a J Street type, who has kind of battled his inner zionist for some time. At worst, he may be at one with his base, willing to explore putting much more pressure on israel than anyone dared before. Worse yet, he is far from a liberal interventionist believer and certainly not a hawk. But the military and military Industrial complex, are carefully watching, so, if he is smart, which i think he is, caution is the best way forward.

    4. Like it or not, America is an Empire and behaves like it. It is also an Empire in decline that is seriously in danger of being captured by “animal spirits” from either side. The world is moving to a multi-polar power structure and the PTBs are none too happy about that. they all suspect sanders will be the one to usher in the multi-polar era, should he become president. That can only happen if the time is right and the alternatives are worse. Sanders made enough conciliatory comments about Russia to make certain ears perk up. He, being a Washingtonian, knows and sees the not-always-visible gallery. he plays up to it some, by a combination of silence and certain well-worn platitudes about “peace on earth”. But I doubt he discounts the power residing in the upper floors, and its ability to command instant retribution, should it feel threatened. Talking about inequality is fine (after all, what can anyone really do about it, and besides, the PTBs are beginning to feel that inequality has, in fact, become a threat to them). Talking about environment and single payer is fine as well – those are all nice long term goals. But seriously cutting back on military budgets and military/industrial/surveillance infrastructure is something else.

    So yes, like Phil I believe sanders, at heart is a progressive on I/P as well, and wouldn’t mind doing a little BDS of his own. But none of us should be naive enough to think he can come out with a platform that puts israel in its place (and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out some day that Ron Paul has been whispering sweet nothings in his ear). So for now, silence is golden, and all we can do is hope that a time could come when Sanders would feel free to say the right words. For now, let’s follow the trail of crumbs. After all, that’s the best we got – for now.

    • csutter
      February 2, 2016, 11:37 pm

      Totally agree. Thanks

    • echinococcus
      February 3, 2016, 12:13 pm


      You can’t get any politician to even do things he solemnly promised to get your vote. You sound like you want the voter to expect the candidate to do things he didn’t promise, in fact studiously avoided to mention, based on a wild hunch totally unjustified by said candidate’s record.
      Is that a fair summary?

      • Danaa
        February 3, 2016, 2:17 pm

        echin, I am not sure you quite got my point, which has to do not with what Sanders is or isn’t, but with the silence a candidate – any candidate – must endure in the US< just to be allowed to step out of the gate. That's the connection in which I mentioned Ron Paul.

        Sanders for a long time, even as his legions of support increased in power and noise, got the silent treatment from the MSM. Something that was totally obvious to anyone who tuned into any news channel or media. But silence is not as bad as full out ridicule, which is what greeted Ron Paul, whenever he tried to step into candidacy of the GOP. Under the cover of enforced silence, sanders, while ignored, at least did not have to endure the poison arrows and toxic intimations of anti-semitism and anti-empirism. And that silent space (which was not at all silent in the progressive circles) allowed his campaign to blossom, almost stealth-like – but in full view of them who were observant.

        There will be time enough for promises, now that he is taken as a serious threat to her annointed majesty HRC. And not just on I/P. How he is going to handle the barbed wires that will be erected to trap him into making off-the-cuff statements that will be later held against him, is what will tell whether he will surf the waves or crash under them trying.

      • echinococcus
        February 3, 2016, 4:46 pm


        That part of your message was already very well worded –as per your usual.

        I was referring to any grounds for the hope and the belief below:

        I believe sanders, at heart is a progressive on I/P as well, and wouldn’t mind doing a little BDS of his own. But none of us should be naive enough to think he can come out with a platform that puts israel in its place… So for now, silence is golden, and all we can do is hope that a time could come when Sanders would feel free to say the right words.

    • Kris
      February 3, 2016, 4:25 pm

      Thanks, you lay it out so well.

  12. Keith
    February 2, 2016, 5:51 pm

    PHIL- “For people who love politics, last night was one of the most exciting nights of our lives.”

    The primaries exciting? Get some therapy. Quick.

    PHIL- “So in the most convulsive political season in anyone’s memory, when outsiders are running against the establishment, and everything is up for grabs….”

    Therapy? I take it back. Call 911 and get Phil to detox. None of the Democrats or Republicans is anti-establishment. Not even close. Nothing is up for grabs.

    PHIL- “I believe Sanders’s absence of a stable of foreign policy advisers is actually good news.”

    The office of the President is powerful, however, the modern President is little more than a figurehead. Sanders, if elected, would get his foreign policy from the elites as represented by the Council on Foreign Relations. There would be minimal deviation from elite friendly foreign policy, including ongoing war mongering.

    PHIL- “Because I’m such an optimist and progressive and flagwaver, I think this is all going to change.”

    Oh, we are in for some big changes alright. We will shortly transition into neo-feudalism where the government will be completely subservient to transnational capital (think Greece), and the economy will be predominantly a rentier economy defined by debt servitude.

    Is it too much to hope for that this post was a parody? If it can happen to the NYT, why not Mondoweiss?

    • Danaa
      February 3, 2016, 2:28 am

      Keith, optimism much?

      • Keith
        February 3, 2016, 12:34 pm

        DANAA- “Keith, optimism much?”

        Look who is talking. We should combine our resources and form a vaudeville act. The Cassandra Sisters! Don’t laugh. You haven’t seen me in a wig and mini-skirt! I liked your comment to Kalithea, however, I have a point of disagreement. In my opinion, the American empire has transmogrified into an American led transnational corporate empire which is getting stronger, not weaker, even as the US nation state declines. This is an immensely significant change in the global political economy made possible by high speed computers and global telecommunications which permit a financial/information matrix of control that is revolutionary. Looking at the bright side, when have we ever had so much opportunity for gallows humor?

      • Danaa
        February 3, 2016, 2:19 pm

        May be we could keep the act as the Cassandra Duo, and you could forgo the wig? can I be the Opssimist?

        I got a drawer-full of silver linings I would like to use……

      • Keith
        February 3, 2016, 7:05 pm

        DANAA- “…you could forgo the wig?”

        Sounds good. Let’s show up in a moose costume. You get star billing up front, I bring up the rear, and Mooser sues for copyright infringement. Silver linings? Does this have anything to do with those erotic Israeli fashions? Silver lame? This is getting exciting!

    • Sibiriak
      February 3, 2016, 12:59 pm

      Keith: and the economy will be predominantly a rentier economy defined by debt servitude.

      On the bright side, less production and consumption = less environmental destruction.

      • Keith
        February 3, 2016, 2:50 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “On the bright side, less production and consumption = less environmental destruction.”

        The endless war and militarization necessitated by neoliberalism will likely be at least as environmentally destructive as mass consumerism. Besides, the environment has already been so compromised that human survival is in doubt. Best leave it at that before we all get too depressed.

  13. echinococcus
    February 2, 2016, 5:55 pm

    Thank you, Phil, for the title and the analysis of Sanders’ position. I still think that your enthusiasm for Sanders/Dem party and your optimism are misplaced, though: because of the reasons you so well exposed in this same paper and because the signs that can reasonably be read as heralding any substantial change are lacking.

  14. Herchel
    February 2, 2016, 7:57 pm

    Sanders’s support for Israel demonstrates what nonsense the anti-Semitic taking point about Jewish control of the government is. Perhaps many in the U.S. support Israel, oh… I don’t know… maybe because its the right, moral and just thing to do? Did it ever occur to you that the vast majority of the population doesn’t suffer from the same self-loathing and inability to think rationally?

    • kalithea
      February 2, 2016, 9:34 pm

      If you call holding a nation of millions of people hostage in a limbo-land of human rights violations and injustice rational then spare me your rational thinking!

      Right and moral, my ass! Hasbara bull meter: off the charts! Crawl back inside your Zionist Lobby closet where everything black appears white.

    • echinococcus
      February 3, 2016, 2:42 am

      There you have the last word about Sanders and the rape of Palestine: Herchel’s endorsement:

      Sanders’s support for Israel demonstrates what nonsense the anti-Semitic taking point about Jewish control of the government is

      I don’t expect Sandersites to see any facts anymore, but you never know.

      By the way, Herchel, it’s not “Jewish control of the government”, you &^% antisemite. It is “Zionist control of both government and opposition”. Also, Sanders is running for the government party.

  15. kalithea
    February 2, 2016, 9:17 pm

    The jock on the left: 75% of the American people
    The intelligent guy on the right: One of the few people in the U.S. worthy of running for President of a nation calling itself Leader of the Free World.

    That 75% is the reason why the U.S. will never get a leader with wisdom and intelligence. See, this is what’s wrong with Americans: Americans tear down the best among them, the lone, sane voices in a house full of lobby-funded kooks. Then the people whine, rant and bawl over their dysfunctional government; but who puts in office legislators and leaders who are leaving a world of chaos, war and looming financial and environmental disaster to their grandchildren?…the American People, that’s who!

    Americans never fail to get it wrong; just look at the latest line-up vying for the top. It tells you that Americans are hooked on that dysfunction because they just can’t seem to think for themselves and make intelligent choices without media and lobby influence; think outside the box to get out of the rut.

    • Danaa
      February 3, 2016, 2:38 am

      kalithea – internal dysfunction is what happens when one lives in an empire. Power corrupts all political processes and distorts all policies, no matter how well intended at first. The result? sanity of and by the people is the greatest loser.

      Eventually empires can’t have statesmen because they might tell the truth now and then. To the rulers or to the people or to the world. That’s what makes them statesmen. So goners be they, and when have we had one in the US last?

      Empires can and do have Mandarins who toil at the levers of power. But mandarins invariably get full of themselves and end up mistaking inertia for stability and self-enrichment for wisdom.

      Things are not so good for America because the people fail to internalize what an empire is and what an empire does to stay “on top”. Thee people pretend they live in a democracy but such democracy as is practiced is hobbled by the external and internal realities.

      Especially since Empires must do very bad things to remain an Empire but the people want to think of themselves as good. Hence the dysfunction at all levels from the lowest to the highest.

      The worst times – the ones we have entered sometime ago – is when Empires go on the decline trajectory, which all empires must eventually do.

      PS see my comment above about poor Sanders who has yet to contend with these facts of life.

  16. dx
    February 2, 2016, 9:36 pm

    One thing I think you can say for Sanders is that he hasn’t said he would meet with Netanyahu in his first days in office like most of the Republicans–or maybe all of them. Clinton wrote that fawning and obsequious letter about Israel in the Forward. (In addition to all her lavish private meetings where she pledges allegiance to a foreign country.) Sanders has not done anything like that. He refused to attend Netanyahu’s speech to Congress–I think he was one of the first people to announce he would not attend. He has not met with Netanyahu or visited Israel while running. He has not held fund raisers for Jewish donors.

    He has not taken on the bellicose/hawkish tones like both Clinton and the Republicans. Sanders does not strut around bellowing about bombing people in foreign lands in a playground contest to see who has the biggest fist. ( I, too, agree that the current fights will have to be fought and settled by the people who live there. Our meddling will only exacerbate and prolong suffering there and also bring more of it here to our military families.)

    Perhaps it’s a good sign to see what Sanders hasn’t done. He hasn’t sucked up to the Israeli lobby while on the campaign trail. And frankly, that’s a big thing for a member of any party to do.

    • Mooser
      February 2, 2016, 11:44 pm

      “Perhaps it’s a good sign to see what Sanders hasn’t done.”

      Perhaps those are encouraging signs. This is such a sad election.

    • echinococcus
      February 3, 2016, 2:26 am


      You’re not making sense. Sanders did not support the Likud government or AIPAC because he is following the “Labor”(now known as “Zionist Bloc”) genocidaires and J-Street. Same applies to the latest “Iran deal”. The point repeatedly made that the latter are more dangerous was never answered. BS has supported all complicity with Zionist crimes including US wars of aggression on the behalf of Zionists and he defends the massacres and occupation by the illegal fiction of a “right to defend itself” for the invaders. There is not the slightest doubt that he is an emotionally attached Zionist, either.
      Will any of the repeat edition of the hope-needy voters please **clearly explain, with the support of **solid fact instead of subjective hopes or empty words, what the difference between Clinton II and BS is for anyone facing the cutting edge of Zionism? Same applies to the false differentiation between the 2 US parties. Thank you.

  17. kalithea
    February 2, 2016, 11:08 pm

    I found an interesting discussion on Bernie Sanders that took place over a year ago on a site I just stumbled on. I watched the video of the town hall he held in Vermont and it’s not good. When Bernie is responding to the woman on the subject of the bombardment of Gaza, and he’s being challenged on the issue of “an occupied people have a right to resist”; he moves from the bombardment of Gaza’s civilian population to Hamas and then <I?strangely–to ISIS on the same theme! I have to say that his response constitutes veiled bigotry plain and simple! And that veiled bigotry, poor soul, is symptomatic of liberal Zionists, as are contradiction and confused morality and a host of other ailments that these type of Zionists exhibit and betray, and yes, even SELF-LOATHING. Because if any group suffers from self-loathing more than any other, it’s liberal Zionists! And you all know why this is, don’t you? Because, their attachment to Zionism contradicts every progressive ideal in their body. It’s not rocket science! Zionism and liberal ideals, Zionism and moral conscience are not compatible at all.

    Therefore, I really question Sander’s integrity. Of course, it’s very hard to have integrity and be a Zionist. You really have to reject one to hold on to the other. It’s sad really, because some liberal Zionists seem really nice…but, they’re hiding behind a façade. Bernie’s kind of like the Zionist version of Obama in the sense of being — a total letdown.

    Again, I really don’t like the primary lineup on any side. It’s a statement on American decline. Americans should demand better for God’s sake! Quit settling for scraps. Write to these candidates and give them a wake up call.

    All Bernie’s supporters should challenge him as the majority in that hall did; that’s real Democracy and not this popularity clown fest charade going on right now! Democracy is not about adulation and hope-y wishful thinking — it’s about recognizing contradiction, having the guts to challenge it and standing up and demanding real change and good leadership.

    • Kris
      February 3, 2016, 11:36 am

      Kalithea, this is a pretty good article on Bernie Sanders on I/P: “The Backstory on Bernie Sanders and Israel-Palestine: Why Is He So Quiet About the Mideast Tragedy?” .

      From the article:

      There is some evidence that these criticisms have started to make an impact on Sanders’ approach. In the last month, his campaign finally started to roll out foreign policy platforms on his website. The platform repeats much of the same U.S. foreign policy mantras about the need for a two-state solution and Israel’s right to defend itself, but also condemns “disproportionate” violence by Israel and killings of civilians by the Israeli army. Most notably, the platform calls for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, a topic all but forgotten in U.S. discourse.

      (There is no record of Sanders attending events with the primary Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which every presidential contender makes sure to appear at. Sanders also does not speak at pro-Israel rallies, and he hasn’t traveled to the region in decades. While he is Jewish, he does not seem to align with the harsh anti-Palestinian politics of many of the mainstream Jewish organizations in the United States such as the American Jewish Committee or the Anti-Defamation League. His brother Larry supports the Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions campaign.)

      • echinococcus
        February 3, 2016, 11:55 am


        The substance of what some of us wrote to you repeatedly (and never got answered) is the same as what I have in an item a couple posts above (apologies for having to repeat):

        Sanders did not support the Likud government or AIPAC because he is following the “Labor”(now known as “Zionist Bloc”) genocidaires and J-Street. Same applies to the latest “Iran deal”. The point repeatedly made that the latter are more dangerous was never answered. BS has supported all complicity with Zionist crimes including US wars of aggression on the behalf of Zionists and he defends the massacres and occupation by the illegal fiction of a “right to defend itself” for the invaders.

        Yet many Sanders people seem to just hammer on, by ignoring whatever sounds inconvenient.
        Once more, not being with AIPAC does not mean much if you are toeing the equally Zionist, equally genocidal, J-Street and Zionist Bloc line. Please deal with that consideration, seriously, before repeating it once more as if a Palestine solidarity site were nothing more than a US party venue.

      • Kris
        February 3, 2016, 1:54 pm

        @echinococcus: “Once more, not being with AIPAC does not mean much if you are toeing the equally Zionist, equally genocidal, J-Street and Zionist Bloc line.”

        I think I understand what you are saying, echinococcus. You have made it clear that you think that Bernie Sanders is as “genocidal” as AIPAC, but is taking the “liberal Zionist” position, which is even more dangerous because it presents a nicer face to the world while seeking the same despicable goals.

        Therefore, you think, Sanders presents a greater danger to the Palestinians than does self-proclaimed Zionist Clinton, who said that criticism of Israel’s massacres in Gaza was “antisemitic” and has received millions of dollars from Zionists. You rightfully despise Clinton, too.

        Since the U.S. is Israel’s enabler in its slow-motion holocaust of the Palestinians, the U.S. presidential election should be a matter of concern to people who support the Palestinians.

        Either Sanders or Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee, and the Republican nominee is going to be rabidly pro-Israel. So whom should those who want justice for Palestine support?

        Just because you say that Sanders is “genocidal” doesn’t make it so; sometimes you sound exactly like a physician. :-) Sanders is not a member of a synagogue, his wife is Catholic, his brother supports BDS, Sanders hasn’t bothered to visit Israel for decades, and Sanders criticized Israel’s slaughter in Gaza.

        It is at least possible that Sanders will be fair to the Palestinians, while there isn’t a hope with Zionist-bought-and-paid-for Clinton.

      • Sibiriak
        February 3, 2016, 2:11 pm

        Kris: It is at least possible that Sanders will be fair to the Palestinians, while there isn’t a hope with Zionist-bought-and-paid-for Clinton.

        echinococcus sees Palestinian salvation coming through a “regional conflagration” set off by the U.S. and Israel.

        A regional conflagration in the ME may well lead to occupation and liquidation of the Zionist state and the establishment of an equal-rights Palestine

        a peaceful transition like, say, South Africa or the USSR has less chance than a snowball in hell. Not gonna happen. Same for the chances of the Resistance to force any change by itself. What will probably reshape it all is a regional conflagration provoked by Israel and the US.

        So, who would be more likely to provoke such a liberating event, Clinton or Sanders?

        As Lenin would say, worse before better.

      • Kris
        February 3, 2016, 4:35 pm

        Thanks, Sibiriak, I didn’t know.

        Palestinian liberation through “regional conflagration” provoked by Israel and the U.S.? The people who would be “liberated” would be the dead.

  18. kalithea
    February 3, 2016, 12:26 am

    How about Chris Hedges for President?:

    How about Van Jones for President?!

    I know I wrote earlier presidential contests are not supposed to be charm-fests buuuut — is VJ the Denzel of politics or what?…aye-aye aye! Bernie who???

  19. kalithea
    February 3, 2016, 1:11 am

    I’m sorry, I have to add this passage quoted from an article Van Jones wrote in the NYT in 2010 defending himself on the 9/11 Truther smear:

    The worst of the partisans will get their comeuppance and become cautionary tales for others. Public leaders will learn to be more transparent. We will teach our children not to rush to judgment. Technology will evolve to better expose fakers.

    But the big breakthrough will come not when we are better able to spot the lies. It will come when we are better able to handle the truth about people. We are complex beings; no one is all good or all bad. And people do evolve into better people over their lives — just look at Senator Robert Byrd, who died this month and who entered politics as a segregationist and left as a statesman.

Leave a Reply