Here’s why Bernie Sanders is too ‘evidence-based’ and ‘cautious’ on foreign policy for the DC elite

Here’s why Bernie Sanders is too ‘evidence-based’ and ‘cautious’ on foreign policy for the DC elite
Bernie Sanders image by JStone, Shutterstock

The fact that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is unapologetically liberal/progressive and left-of-center in his views and describes himself as a “democratic socialist” doesn’t automatically make him a pacifist or an isolationist in terms of foreign policy; some of the most hawkish Democratic presidents of the 20th Century were liberals, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson. Moreover, it was a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who warned about the “Military/Industrial Complex” in January 1961. But it is safe to say that Sanders, who is far from a neocon, is selective in how he wants to use the U.S. military — and journalist Eric Levitz, in an article published by New York Magazine on January 16, stresses that Sanders’ foreign policy views are too “evidence-based” and “cautious” for his critics and skeptics in Washington, D.C.

“In recent weeks, as Sanders has secured his grip on second place in the Democratic primary, the senator’s heretical views on foreign policy have attracted media scrutiny,” Levitz asserts. “The tenor of this coverage tends to be facially neutral, but tacitly skeptical, if not outright alarmed.”

Levitz points to a January 11 Washington Post article by Sean Sullivan as an example.

“Sean Sullivan’s account of how a Sanders presidency could rattle ‘the world order’ is somewhat fair-minded, dutifully acknowledging that history has proven the senator’s instincts on Iraq prescient,” Levitz explains. “But the piece’s overwhelming emphasis is on the radicalism of Sanders’ views — a radicalism that it simultaneously exaggerates and declines to contextualize. The piece repeatedly informs its readers of the marginal position that Sanders has taken on a given issue, without offering any insight into whether that stance is well-reasoned or substantiated.”

When Republican George W. Bush was president, Sanders was vehemently opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq — which he has repeatedly described as a foreign policy disaster. And Sanders, unlike others in the U.S. Senate, is not reflexively supportive of Saudi Arabia.

Levitz asserts that although Sanders is not “immune to the gravitational force” of “political realities,” he is “more resistant to Congress’ collective madness than most of his peers.”

“The senator has consistently opposed increasing the Pentagon’s gargantuan budget, called for rethinking the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, and threatened to withhold U.S. military aid to Israel if it continues to expand settlements in the West Bank,” Levitz observes. “To be sure, the man is no foreign-policy wonk. And his stated views on trade can be reductive and nationalistic. But on the whole, his outlook is both more evidence-based and more moderate — with its cautious approach to foreign intervention and allergy to unilateral assertions of American power — than the consensus he threatens to ‘upend.’”


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