Writing, Organizing, & Creative Arts
Bernie Sanders supporters should really take the time to examine his foreign policy record before making assumptions about it.
No, he’s not antiwar.
No, he’s not a noninterventionist.
No, he didn’t only vote to “support the troops” stationed overseas.
Bernie – like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Rubio, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and every other Republican and Democrat running for office – is an imperialist, and his long political history clearly reflects this..
Bernie voted in favor of HR 3107 – Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, which “imposes sanctions on persons exporting certain goods or technology that would enhance Iran’s ability to explore for, extract, refine, or transport by pipeline petroleum resources, and for other purposes.”
In 1997, Bernie voted for HR 2159 – Foreign Operations FY98 Appropriations bill, which included: $3 billion for Israel, including $1.8 billion in military assistance and $1.2 billion in economic assistance; $2.12 billion for Egypt, including $1.3 billion in military assistance and $815 million in economic assistance; $770 million for former Soviet Republics; and $215 million for international narcotics control and law enforcement.
He also voted for HR 4059 – Military Construction FY99 Appropriations bill, which provided $2.82 billion for general military construction.
In 1998, Bernie’s name was included as a YEA vote on HR 4655, the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998, which expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the aim of the United States to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
President George W. Bush later used the Iraqi Liberation Act to provide justification for military action for the 2003 invasion.
In 1999, Bernie voted for HR 2465, which provided $4 billion for military construction, and he voted for HR 3196, which provided: $2.16 billion for military and economic assistance to Israel; $760 million for military and economic assistance to Egypt; $535 million for Eastern European and the Baltic States, including $150 million for assistance to Kosovo; $300 million for military and economic assistance to Jordan; and $285 million for international narcotics control.
Writes Ron Jacobs of Counter Punch, 3/31/2003:
“For those of us with a memory longer than the average US news reporter, we can remember Bernie’s staunch support for Clinton’s 100-day bombing of Yugoslavia and Kosovo in 1999. I served as a support person for a dozen or so Vermonters who sat-in in his Burlington office a couple weeks into that war. Not only did Sanders refuse to talk with us via telephone (unlike his Vermont counterparts in the Senate-Leahy and Jeffords), he had his staff call the local police to arrest those who refused to leave until Sanders spoke with them.
The following week Sanders held a town hall meeting in Montpelier, VT., where he surrounded himself with sympathetic war supporters and one university professor who opposed the war and Bernie’s support for it. During the question and answer part of the meeting, Sanders yelled at two of the audience’s most vocal opponents to his position and told them to leave if they didn’t like what he had to say.”
In 2001, Bernie supported HR 1954, which extended the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996.
Following the 9/11 attacks, Bernie voted in favor of H J Res 64 – Authorization for Use of Military Force, which allowed President Bush to use the United States Armed Forces against anyone involved with 9/11 and any nation that harbors these individuals.
In 2002, Bernie voted against H J Res 114, which authorized President Bush to use military force against Iraq. However, he would continue to support bloated military defense bills that would ultimately be used to sustain the war he allegedly disagreed with.
In 2003, Bernie supported HR 5010, which provided $355.1 billion in appropriations for the Defense Department for fiscal year 2003 – an increase of $37.5 billion from 2002 – as well as: $71.6 billion for procurement of aircraft, missiles, weapons, combat vehicles and shipbuilding; $7.4 billion for ballistic missile defense; and $58.4 million for foreign aid, which includes humanitarian assistance, foreign disaster relief and de-mining programs.
He also voted in favor of HR 2800 – Foreign Operations Appropriations, FY 2004 bill, which granted $1.8 billion in military and economic assistance to Egypt and $2.2 billion for Israeli military assistance.
In 2004, Bernie supported HR 4613, which allocated $25 billion for emergency defense spending for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $77.4 billion for the procurement of new weapons.
In 2005, Sanders supported HR 2863 – Defense Department FY2006 Appropriations Bill, which provided $50 billion for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2006, Bernie voted for HR 5631, which provided $70 billion for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2007, he supported HR 1585 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which granted $187.14 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan operations.
In 2009, he voted in favor of HR 2647, which authorized $309 million for research and evaluation, procurement, or deployment of an alternative Missile Defense System in Europe, and also allowed the Secretary of Defense to increase the active-duty number for the US Army to a number greater than otherwise allowed by law up to the 2010 baseline plus 30,000 troops.
During the same year, he called closing the torturous gulag at Guantanamo a “complicated issue” and ultimately rejected a proposal to shut it down.
In 2011, Bernie co-sponsored S. Res. 85, which urged the UN Security Council to take action to protect civilians in Libya from attack, including the possible imposition of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory.
In 2014, Bernie came out in favor of levying economic sanctions (an act of war) against Russia: “The entire world has got to stand up to Putin,” he said. “We’ve got to deal with sanctions.”
That same year, Bernie didn’t object to having his name included – by unanimous consent – in S.498, which backed Israel’s brutal, summer-long military assault against Gaza.
Most recently, he vowed to continue Obama’s murderous international drone war. Bernie also supports funneling weapons into Iraq to fight ISIS as well as airstrikes, and he continues to spread the myth that Iran seeks to build nuclear weapons.
All of this information is publicly available and verifiable with a Google search.
Maybe it can be brushed aside and ignored on the basis of him being a “lesser evil” who may kill less people than other presidential candidates – though that begs the question of how many foreigners a Bernie supporter is okay with butchering before it’s one too many. 100? 1000? 5000? What’s an acceptable body count? At what point does it stop mattering?
Whatever the case may be, is it asking too much for Bernie supporters to stop smearing actual antiwar activists and noninterventionists by putting them in the same category as a warmonger? Even if he’s a “light” warmonger – even if he’s a “lesser evil” – he’s still a warmonger, he’s still evil, and he’s certainly not preaching a message of peace.
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