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Thu Mar 17, 2016, 06:59 PM

Foreign Policies

One of the most important issues to consider in a national election is “international affairs.” Much like “domestic affairs” -- with which there is significant overlap -- the manner in which a US President, and his/her team, approaches the rest of the world influences the quality of life in America. However, it influences different groups of US citizens in very different ways. Too often, in my humble opinion, we are provided -- by the candidates, their campaigns, their opponents, and the media -- to a highly inaccurate picture of the impact of foreign affairs.

Perhaps the single best resource for illustrating the different impact that foreign affairs has on various people in the US is found in Vincent Bugliosi’s 2008 classic, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.” He contrasts the pain and suffering of thousands of American families -- as well as Iraqi families -- with the obscene, glib behavior of a president who enjoyed watching violence from afar.

Clearly, the manners in which Americans experienced the war in Iraq is distinct. In the layers between those dealing with the tragic, and a president who was clearly sexually aroused by gore and bloodshed, there were many raking in millions of dollars -- even billions -- from this unprovoked invasion of a weak foreign nation.

One of the things that both Barack Obama, in 2008, and Bernie Sanders, in 2016, have spoke of in their campaigns is that then-Senator Hillary Clinton voted to give George W. Bush and Dick Cheney the power to invade Iraq militarily, in a vote that ended any chance that the UN Inspectors could have completed their study, and documented that there were no WMDs in Iraq. Both point out that it’s essentially an issue of “judgment.”

That is true. However, to be fair, despite knowing better, a heck of a lot of other Democrats in Washington, DC -- in theory there to represent you and I -- cast the exact same vote. Again, to be fair: most of those Democrats were simply spineless cowards, concerned only with maintaining the comfort of their elected office. And, they refused to step up and oppose the President …..and those interests that were intent upon exploiting the war for massive financial gain.

I believe that in other elected Democrat’s defense, it could be accurately attributed to “political ideology” -- as much as to “judgment,” and more so than cowardice. And that brings us to a split among Democrats, that began in 1967, and has continued until this day. We rarely talk about it here on DU:GDP, and the few times it has been, the discussion soon degenerates into name-calling.

Even in discussing it here, in as factual a manner as I can, it is possible some people will react with an emotional post. I think passion about politics is great, so long as it doesn’t involve insults and name-calling. For, as the great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- a gentleman who celebrated St. Patrick’s Day -- is often quoted: “You have the right to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

I have mixed feelings about Senator Moynihan. Actually, much like Ted Kennedy, I think he was a good fit in the US Senate, but I’m glad he never became president. I say that as a life-long Kennedy Democrat. I think it’s fair to believe that even within our party, there are not only people with different talents, but times that call for specific candidates. No one should be called a “disloyal” party member for thinking in this manner. No one.

Speaking of Senator Moynihan, he was a neoconservative. This allowed him to function in both Democratic and republican presidential administrations equally well. Now, my accurately referring to old Daniel Patrick as a neoconservative might cause an emotional response in some here. This is largely due to a specific, republican cluster of neoconservatives that served under several recent republican presidents. And those fellows -- for example, Dick Cheney -- had the same neoconservative ideology, but were obviously far more aggressive about threatening to, and using, the military.

To understand the beginning of neo-conservatism, one needs to learn about two events that ignited it within the Democratic Party in 1967. The first was Dr. Martin Luther King’s combining of the civil rights and anti-war movements, in his April 4 speech at the Riverside Church. That’s the primary domestic issue. The international event was the Six Day War in the Middle East. Again, Dr. King spoke of the conflict between advocating a non-violent approach to dispute resolution domestically, while advocating massive military strikes and interventions to resolve conflicts abroad.

That was among several major divisions within the Democratic Party. It wasn’t the only one, of course. But it is one that is still present today, and is creating a serious divide within our party in the form of the primary contest. The simple truth is that, under the umbrella of the Democratic Party, there are different ideologies, and very different value systems. And it includes very different understandings of the many connections between US foreign and domestic policy. These include everything from domestic unemployment and international trade policies, to trying to reduce gun violence in the US, while selling weapons, directly or indirectly, to nations and other groups. It includes renewable energy and foreign wars that never end.

Neoconservatism simply means a liberal domestic policy, with a strong military “defense” around the globe, with a special relationship to one nation in the Middle East. And it has included an on-going focus on Central America since 1981.

The Bernie Sanders campaign advocates a combination of a strong national defense -- it is really foolish to argue that any candidate doesn’t -- but with more emphasis on non-violent dispute resolution. Simply put, warfare should be the last option.

For many good, intelligent Democrats, Bernie Sanders has not adequately addressed some foreign policy issues. This is a valid concern, and one we should be able to discuss like rational human beings.

For many good, intelligent Democrats, Hillary’s past actions, and current positions, have convinced them that as president, she would continue the machine’s aggressive military policies. This is a valid concern, and one that we should be able to discuss like rational human beings.

Thanks for reading an old man’s ramblings. I hope that people will consider this worthy of a serious discussion.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply Foreign Policies (Original post)
H2O Man Mar 2016 OP
giftedgirl77 Mar 2016 #1
H2O Man Mar 2016 #2
giftedgirl77 Mar 2016 #3
H2O Man Mar 2016 #4
giftedgirl77 Mar 2016 #5
H2O Man Mar 2016 #21
malthaussen Mar 2016 #24
tk2kewl Mar 2016 #6
H2O Man Mar 2016 #11
tk2kewl Mar 2016 #12
kgnu_fan Mar 2016 #18
Martin Eden Mar 2016 #7
tk2kewl Mar 2016 #8
Martin Eden Mar 2016 #13
kgnu_fan Mar 2016 #19
jillan Mar 2016 #9
H2O Man Mar 2016 #10
Martin Eden Mar 2016 #14
jillan Mar 2016 #15
kgnu_fan Mar 2016 #17
kgnu_fan Mar 2016 #16
H2O Man Mar 2016 #20
joshcryer Mar 2016 #22
H2O Man Mar 2016 #23

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 07:02 PM

1. HRC's foreign policy scares the shit out of me

 

& Sanders doesn't seem to have one which also concerns me.

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Response to giftedgirl77 (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 07:16 PM

2. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 07:20 PM

3. No problem.

 

I can have a rational discussion when one presents itself.

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Response to giftedgirl77 (Reply #3)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 07:35 PM

4. It might end up

just the two of us talking here.

I would think that both sides would be up for a discussion on foreign policy. It seems pretty evident that it is difficult, if not impossible, for a country to be aggressive militarily, but liberal at home. I've always preferred the King approach.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 07:42 PM

5. Well you didn't lead with something obnoxious so it's not going to draw

 

as much fire. As someone whose entire adult life involved the military Obama's method of addressing issues was a breath of fresh air. While I prefer drones over boots on ground I think there's way too much collateral damage which isn't helping us when it comes to Asia & the ME.

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Response to giftedgirl77 (Reply #5)

Fri Mar 18, 2016, 08:43 AM

21. Right.

I think that President Obama is among the most influential presidents in our nation's history. Certainly not perfect -- no president could possibly be perfect. More, I do not think that most people understand the limits of his power .....he was intent upon removing the US military from Afghanistan, for example, but found he didn't have the ability to do so.

The curious thing is that in recent times, presidents can do far more "bad," than "good." George W. Bush (Dick Cheney) provide evidence of that.

I do not believe that the current power structure in DC has the ability to bring about real steps towards true peace in the Middle East. Unjust systems cannot produce justice.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #21)

Fri Mar 18, 2016, 12:15 PM

24. It's dead easy to get into a quagmire.

Getting out is tougher.

Mr Nixon ran in 1968 promising to put an end to one quagmire (while treasonously perpetuating it to enhance his political chances). Then, of course, he invaded Cambodia with the advice and consent of Henry Kissenger.

Now, I think this was actually intended as a means of keeping his promise. Let us remember that the military and assorted experts were whining about how it would be impossible to win the Vietnam war while allowing the NVA sanctuary in Cambodia (much the same argument was made about China during the Korean war). Let us recall that in 1968, much of our military still had the Dien Bien Phu mindset: if only we could bring the enemy to battle, our superior firepower would triumph. And a casual study of small unit engagements in the Vietnam conflict bears this out; the problem, as so well-stated by Ho Chih Minh, was that we could kill 10 of his for every one of ours killed and still lose. Insurgencies are not conventional military struggles, and thus the rules of conventional military struggle do not apply. No matter: I am sure that Mr Nixon and all top advisers sincerely believed that an expansion of the war would raise the price high enough that Hanoi would quit. It didn't, of course, and then Nixon and Kissenger became hot on detente and cultivating China as a counterweight to the USSR, so the old "containment" reason for the Vietnam war became inoperative. The point of this history lesson is that, given the chance, the executive will trust and follow the advice of his military advisers even if that advice is not relevant to the issue at hand. After all, wars are about the military, right?

Since war is all about killing people until they do what you want them to, a leader who favors military solutions to foreign problems is always going to support solutions that rely on killing people, and will heed the military advice that seems to create the highest body count among the selected "enemy." Since we've selected much of the world as our enemies, there's a powerful amount of killing ahead.

Mr Sanders would appear to be something of an isolationist, not a neocon, although in the current political atmosphere even he has to demonstrate some chops about keeping America powerful, so we can force others to do our will (even if our military force is largely irrelevant to forcing or influencing others to do our will). Every President in my lifetime (with the notable exception of Mr Carter) has found it necessary to demonstrate his military prowess by exterminating as many of the chosen enemy as is expedient. I honestly doubt it will be any different no matter who is elected in November; but possibly Mr Sanders has less desire to work out on hapless enemies as do any of the other choices. His agenda does not appear to incorporate shaping the world in our image, which I don't think is the case with any other candidates.

-- Mal

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Response to giftedgirl77 (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 07:43 PM

6. Some resources to consider when measuring Sanders' foreign policy cred

 

Here is a good article discussing Sanders' foreign policy realism
http://www.thenation.com/article/bernie-sanders-the-foreign-policy-realist-of-2016/

Here is a foreign policy report card from The American Conservative


http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/a-2016-foreign-policy-report-card/

And to head off the attacks on me for referencing The American Conservative, I'm in no way endorsing them on social or domestic policy, however the foreign policy approach of paleocons is certainly much less adventurous, interventionist and imperialistic than the neocons.

Here is a younger Bernie on US policies in Latin America:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511461355

And a current Bernie:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511517080#post5

http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Bernie_Sanders_War_+_Peace.htm

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Response to tk2kewl (Reply #6)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 08:10 PM

11. Very good!

Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #11)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 08:20 PM

12. Any time friend

 

Clinton's foreign policy scares me as well, but I am not concerned that Bernie is lacking in this area at all. In fact I'm happy to support someone who has stood up against US aggression for decades

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Response to tk2kewl (Reply #6)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 10:27 PM

18. great

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 08:01 PM

7. John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton lost my vote in October 2002.

We here at DU knew the case for war was bogus and that invading/occupying Iraq was to open a Pandora's box of unintended consequences -- as well as a war crime in and of itself.

Many extoll Hillary Clinton's foreign policy experience as her greatest qualification for the presidency, but it is the first and foremost reason why I cannot support her in a Democratic primary.

Bernie Sanders demonstrated far superior judgment before the crucially important IWR vote was taken:

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Response to Martin Eden (Reply #7)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 08:06 PM

8. He has never been concerned about political fallout

 

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Response to tk2kewl (Reply #8)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 08:21 PM

13. That's a positive quality in someone entrusted to represent our best interests ...

... but all too rare in Washington these days.

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Response to Martin Eden (Reply #7)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 10:27 PM

19. kick

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 08:06 PM

9. One of the many reasons why I do not support her. She has also made enemies all over the world.

Here's one that was new to me.... Haiti!
http://www.democraticunderground.com/1280150060

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 08:24 PM

14. Of, By, and For ...

... The Powers That Be.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 08:25 PM

15. Thanks - I missed that thread.

Looks like great reading.

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Response to jillan (Reply #9)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 10:13 PM

17. USA can be a great PEACE MAKER if it wants to be. nt

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Mar 17, 2016, 09:09 PM

16. Peace to you, Peace to the world. nt

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Response to kgnu_fan (Reply #16)

Fri Mar 18, 2016, 08:36 AM

20. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Mar 18, 2016, 08:53 AM

22. Failure to vote for the Byrd, Levin, or Durbin amendments was the true test.

I actually give Clinton the benefit of the doubt for two reasons, 1) she was a woman and was wanting to run for President so she wanted to be hawkish and 2) Bush was going to invade Iraq anyway, they were going on old UN resolutions and considered us "still at war."

Why Clinton, of all the Democrats who voted for that resolution, gets so much scrutiny, more so than Kerry, more so than Edwards, more so than Biden, you know, the guy second in line to the Presidency right now, that's just political rhetoric.

The vote was cowardly, yes. But more than that, she couldn't even bother to put her name on one of the other limiting amendments that would've limited Bush's power to wage war. That was the true test of resolve. At least Kerry voted for the Durbin amendment (which said to go back to the UN), which makes his admitting his mistake more credible. But Clinton couldn't vouch for any of them.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #22)

Fri Mar 18, 2016, 10:24 AM

23. Great points, joshcryer!

It's not as if these Democrats did not have access to accurate information. They were not limited to the "mushroom cloud" bullshit the Cheney/Bush administration was scaring the general public with. They knew.

Your post brings up an important issue: is disagreeing with elected representatives a form of disloyalty to the Democratic Party? More, do people believe that what it means to be a Democrat is defined by the positions that those elected officials take? In my opinion, there is both a right and a responsibility for registered Democrats to disagree with elected officials -- especially in cases involving the potential for warfare. I do not believe that any one person, or group of elites, defines the party ....in fact, I know that in situations like the march to war with Iraq, they betrayed the party.

Hence, I find it repugnant when some here take the self-righteous position that those of us who dare question the authority of elected officials need to "start our own party."

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