In a televised town hall appearance last night on MSNBC, self-described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders doubled down on both his support for President Obama's drone assassination program and for the U.S.'s continued military escalations in the Middle East. Sanders called the presidential "kill list" perfectly legal, constitutional and necessary. He gave his stamp of approval to Obama's pivot from "no American boots on the ground" in Syria to ordering an additional 250 pairs of them to aid and abet Al Qaeda-linked "rebels" in the fight against ISIS.
Asked by Chris Hayes if he would continue Obama's drone strikes, which to date have killed thousands of innocent civilians ("collateral damage"), Sanders replied: "Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue. There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves."
He added that as long as the extra-judicial executions ordered by politicians and bureaucrats are done in the current "legal, constitutional way" -- as defined by a couple of government lawyers-for-hire --he sees no problem with it.
Regarding this week's new deployment of hundreds more Special Ops troops to Syria, Sanders toed the company line to a fault. These human killing machines are merely acting as "advisers" to "Muslim troops," he insisted.
Sanders also supports the continued, open-ended deployment of 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. He was not asked about, nor did he address, the White House whitewash of the terroristic American bombing of a charity hospital last fall in Kunduz, resulting in the deaths of nearly 50 medical professionals and patients.
Nor did he speak out against the horrific new "rules of engagement" (secretly in effect since last fall) which allow for more civilian casualties in the air wars on Syria and Iraq and wherever else in the world a bomb falls. The Pentagon has quietly revised its standards for how many children can be ethically obliterated in the name of American exceptionalism.
USA Today reports that the generals have devised a handy little sliding scale with which to absolve themselves of any personal responsibility when they decide to bomb people to smithereens. Human beings in war zones are even ascribed a numerical value: "A strike with the potential to wound or kill several civilians would be permitted if it prevented ISIL fighters from causing further harm."
The newspaper quotes one general celebrating the Obama administration's belated public pivot to hawkishness, likening it to Lyndon Johnson's no holds barred bombing offensives in Vietnam -- where those special advisers also initially only "helped" the South Vietnamese as the "best and the brightest" mission-crept their way into a bloodbath of epic proportions.
So, Bernie Sanders going on TV and spouting the same old platitudes in order to help us to overcome our "sickly inhibitions" about the latest unfettered war is the last straw for me. I am feeling something, all right. I feel like I've been burned. My feelings, of course, are nothing compared to what millions of people "over there" are experiencing as their homes and their bodies get burned to crisps by our leaders' bombs and drones.
As the great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh remarked the other day about the de facto American invasion of Syria, "Nobody ever seems to object too much when we put more people on the ground."
And sadly, that also appears to be the case with Bernie Sanders. Now that he has virtually no chance of winning the Democratic nomination, he could have seized the moment last night to condemn war instead of embracing it. I'd been willing to pragmatically give him a bit of a pass on his historic lack of pacifism, in hopes that he might be elected and then pressured to ease out of the bellicose mindset. No more.
So enough with the hand-wringing over Hillary the Hawk and Ted Cruz's dastardly desire to carpet-bomb Syrians to death. President Peace Prize is already doing just fine in that department, and even the Empress-in-Waiting's Democratic primary challenger is effectively helping to grease the skids for her seamless transition to power. She'll just be the latest salesperson for Permawar. She'll just be a little more vocal than her smarmy male cohort in her unabashed enjoyment of it.
The invasion of Libya is probably just an election away. Obama, employing his usual lawyerly parsing, doesn't think such a move is necessary right at the moment, since it might send "the wrong signal" to that country's officials and citizens. He apparently doesn't believe that millions of refugees and hundreds of drowned children are not already enough of a signal.
And as Trevor Timm writes in The Guardian,
Libya is now engulfed in chaos and the number of Isis members is skyrocketing, largely thanks to the US and allies bombing the country and overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. There are already drones flying over the country and special forces have already been in and out in the past year to conduct special forces missions. You can picture administration members soon arguing: we must invade the country to save it from the last time we bombed it."Bernie Sanders will not be mounting any third party challenge, he says, because he doesn't want to end up like Ralph Nader. To me, there are worse things than ending up like Ralph Nader. What's worse is being complicit in mass killing.
And anyhow, Ralph Nader ending up like Ralph Nader continues to be a very good thing. He's spearheading (h/t "annenigma") what he calls an "historic civic mobilization" beginning with a four-day strategy session to be held next month at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Participants will receive professional training in how to effect revolution from the ground up, in their own communities.
The third day (May 25) of the Breaking Through Power convention will be exclusively dedicated "to the enhancing of peace over the waging of war."
"Revitalizing the people to assert their sovereignty under our Constitution is critical to the kind of government, economy, environment and culture that will fulfill human potential and respect posterity," Nader says. "The participating citizens will be asked to support the creation of several new organizations. One will be a Secretariat to facilitate action to stop illegal wars and their quagmires (e.g. the wars on Iraq and Libya and their brutal aftermaths)" by some of the same retired military and diplomatic officials and other activists who so stridently protested during the Bush administration before dissent was quieted in the belief and hope that peace would finally be given a chance under the Obama administration.
I'm feeling the Ralph.