Sanders exposes flawed US foreign policy

By Ritu Raj Subedi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 28, 2017
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Senator Bernie Sanders, who rocked American politics by challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, has now laid out progressive foreign policy vision condemning America's history of interventions – from Iran to Chile to Yemen – for producing devastating results.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders wave together during a campaign rally where Sanders endorsed Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S., July 12, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua] 

The Vermont Senator dismisses the use of might in the solution of international political crises. Disagreeing on the seeming U.S. isolationist policy under President Donald Trump, he noted, "We have got to help lead the struggle to defend and expand a rules-based international order in which law, not might, makes right."

The U.S. has been accused of supporting dictators in Asia and Latin America to contain communism. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, in his autobiography, also criticized past policies of sponsoring dictatorial regimes in Latin America. In Sanders, we have now found a stronger voice against the American interference in the affairs of sovereign states.

In his presentation, he condemns the invasion and occupation of Iraq and hails the nuclear agreement with Iran. He is also critical of the global war on terror.

"As an organizing framework, the Global War on Terror has been a disaster. We must rethink the old Washington mindset that judges 'seriousness' according to the willingness to use force," he declared while speaking at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri on Sept. 21.

During his 2016 campaign, he did speak much about his vision of foreign policy. Now, he has corrected that lapse, to the satisfaction of wary supporters.

He is not in favor of Pentagon's soaring defense budget and Republican attempts to deprive tens of millions of Americans of basic healthcare.

A socialist democrat at heart, Sanders brought about a political revolution by attacking the malfeasance of American capitalism during his blistering poll campaign last year. He has called for global peace, justice and equality. He had popularized the scare word "socialist" in the capital of world capitalism.

He aptly links his foreign policy with his long-standing faith in socialism: "Another challenge that we and the entire world face is growing wealth and income inequality, and the movement toward international oligarchy – a system in which a small number of billionaires and corporate interests control our economic life, our political life and our media. Globally, the top one percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 99 percent of the world's population."

While serving as a mayor of Burlington – Vermont's most populous city – for three terms in the 1980s, he revamped the economy and implemented several progressive policies in the municipality. He had joined the Young People's Socialist League, a wing of the Socialist Party of America in 1964 while studying at the University of Chicago.

He actively participated in numerous civil rights and antiwar movements, and stood firm against the Vietnam War. He is known for his vigorous campaigns for financial reform, corporate welfare, universal healthcare, income equality and against global warming, among others.

Sanders is for strengthening the post-World War II institutions established to restore peace, stability and economic prosperity across the world. He differs with those who often "bash" the United Nations for its perceived weaknesses and who fail to see its positive role in promoting global peace.

"It has become fashionable to bash the U.N. And yes, [it] needs reform. It can be ineffective, bureaucratic, too slow or unwilling to act. Yet, to see only its weaknesses is to overlook the enormously important work in promoting global health, aiding refugees, monitoring elections, and undertaking international peacekeeping missions, among other things."

He slammed Trump for the withdrawal from the landmark Paris agreement on climate change and America's support for Saudi Arabia's destructive intervention in Yemen.

Although condemning its hegemonic foreign policy, Sanders doesn't want the U.S. withdrawl from the international community under the banner of "America First" being promoted by Trump.

"Our goal should be global engagement based on partnership, rather than dominance. This is better for our security, better for global stability, and better for facilitating the international cooperation necessary to meet shared challenges."

It is hard to believe that the foreign policy wonks in Washington will entertain Sanders's line of argument. Nonetheless, they do carry wider ideological ramifications. With his drastic foreign policy vision, Sanders also defies the invincibility of neo-liberalism Francis Fukuyama once dubbed as the final stage of political evolution in his "The End of History and the Last Man."

Ritu Raj Subedi is an associate editor of The Rising Nepal.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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