Democrats in ‘Group Think’ Land

Exclusive: When Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate turned to world affairs, the NBC correspondents and both Sen. Sanders and ex-Secretary Clinton fell in line behind “group thinks” about Syria, Iran and Russia that lack evidentiary support, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

A curious reality about Official Washington is that to have “credibility” you must accept the dominant “group thinks” whether they have any truth to them or not, a rule that applies to both the mainstream news media and the political world, even to people who deviate from the pack on other topics.

For instance, Sen. Bernie Sanders may proudly declare himself a “democratic socialist” far outside the acceptable Washington norm but he will still echo the typical propaganda about Syria, Russia, Iran and other “designated villains.” Like other progressives who spend years in Washington, he gets what you might called “Senate-ized,” adopting that institution’s conventional wisdom about “enemies” even if he may differ on whether to bomb them or not.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confronts Sen. Bernie Sanders in Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17, 2016.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confronts Sen. Bernie Sanders in Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17, 2016.

That pattern goes in spades for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other consciously “centrist” politicians as well as media stars, like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Lester Holt, who were the moderators of Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate. They know what they know based on what “everybody who’s important” says, regardless of the evidence or lack thereof.

So, you had Mitchell and Holt framing questions based on Official Washington’s “group thinks” and Sanders and Clinton responding accordingly.

Regarding Iran, Sanders may have gone as far as would be considered safe in this political environment, welcoming the implementation of the agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program but accepting the “group think” about Iran’s “terrorism” and hesitant to call for resumption of diplomatic relations.

“Understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with; their support of terrorism, the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from their leadership is something that is not acceptable,” Sanders said. “Can I tell you that we should open an embassy in Tehran tomorrow? No, I don’t think we should.”

Blaming Iran

In her response, Clinton settled safely behind the Israeli-preferred position to lambaste Iran for supposedly fomenting the trouble in the Middle East, though more objective observers might say that the U.S. government and its “allies” including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have wreaked much more regional havoc than Iran has.

“We have to go after them [the Iranians] on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region which is causing enormous problems in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere,” Clinton said.

Yet, how exactly Iran is responsible for “enormous problems” across the region doesn’t get explained. Everybody just “knows” it to be true, since the claim is asserted by Israel’s right-wing government and repeated by U.S. pols and pundits endlessly.

Yet, in Iraq, the chaos was not caused by Iran, but by the U.S. government’s invasion in 2003, which then-Sen. Clinton supported (while Sen. Sanders opposed it). In Yemen, it is the Saudis and their Sunni coalition that created a humanitarian disaster by bombing the impoverished country after wildly exaggerating Iran’s support for Houthi rebels.

In Syria, the core reason for the bloodshed is not Iran, but decisions of the Bush-43 administration last decade and the Obama administration this decade to seek another “regime change,” ousting President Bashar al-Assad.

Supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers, this U.S.-backed “covert” intervention instigated both political unrest and terrorist violence inside Syria, including arming jihadist forces such as Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its close ally, Ahrar al-Sham and to a lesser degree Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.“]

The desire of these Sunni powers — along with Israel and America’s neoconservatives — was to shatter the so-called “Shiite crescent” that they saw reaching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. Since Assad is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam, he had to be removed even though he was regarded as the principal protector of Syria’s Christian, Shiite and Alawite minorities. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Did Money Seal Saudi-Israeli Alliance?’]

However, while Israel and the Sunni powers get a pass for their role in the carnage, Iran is blamed for its assistance to the Syrian military in battling these jihadist groups. Official Washington’s version of this tragedy is that the culprits are Assad, the Iranians and now the Russians, who also intervened to help the Syrian government resist the jihadists, both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s various friends and associates. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Climbing into Bed with Al Qaeda.”]

Blaming Assad

Official Washington also accepts as undeniably true that Assad is responsible for all 250,000 deaths in the Syrian civil war even those inflicted by the Sunni jihadists against the Syrian military and Syrian civilians a logic that would have accused President Abraham Lincoln of slaughtering all 750,000 or so people North and South who died in the U.S. Civil War.

The “group think” also holds that Assad was behind the sarin gas attack near Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, despite growing evidence that it was a jihadist group, possibly with the help of Turkish intelligence, that staged the outrage as a provocation to draw the U.S. military into the conflict against Syria’s military by creating the appearance that Assad had crossed Obama’s “red line” on using chemical weapons.

Mitchell cited Assad’s presumed guilt in the sarin attack in asking Clinton: “Should the President have stuck to his red line once he drew it?”

Trying to defend President Obama in South Carolina where he is popular especially with the black community, Clinton dodged the implicit criticism of Obama but accepted Mitchell’s premise.

“I know from my own experience as Secretary of State that we were deeply worried about Assad’s forces using chemical weapons because it would have had not only a horrific effect on people in Syria, but it could very well have affected the surrounding states, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey.

“If there is any blame to be spread around, it starts with the prime minister of Iraq, who sectarianized his military, setting Shia against Sunni. It is amplified by Assad, who has waged one of the bloodiest, most terrible attacks on his own people: 250,000-plus dead, millions fleeing. Causing this vacuum that has been filled unfortunately, by terrorist groups, including ISIS.”

Clinton’s account which ignores the central role that the U.S. invasion of Iraq and outside support for the jihadists in Syria played in creating ISIS represents a thoroughly twisted account of how the Mideast crisis evolved. But Sanders seconded Clinton’s recitation of the “group think” on Syria, saying:

“I agree with most of what she said. And we all know, no argument, the Secretary is absolutely right, Assad is a butcher of his own people, man using chemical weapons against his own people. This is beyond disgusting. But I think in terms of our priorities in the region, our first priority must be the destruction of ISIS. Our second priority must be getting rid of Assad, through some political settlement, working with Iran, working with Russia.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Blind Eye Toward Turkey’s Crimes.”]

Sanders also repeated his talking point that Saudi Arabia and Qatar must “start putting some skin in the game” ignoring the fact that the Saudis and Qataris have been principal supporters of the Sunni jihadists inflicting much of the carnage in Syria. Those two rich countries have put plenty of “skin in the game” except it comes in the slaughter of Syrian Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities.

Blaming Russia

NBC anchor Lester Holt then recited the “group think” about “Russian aggression” in Ukraine ignoring the U.S. role in instigating the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Holt also asserted Moscow’s guilt in the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 despite the lack of any solid evidence to support that claim.

Holt asked: “Secretary Clinton, you famously handed Russia’s foreign minister a reset button in 2009. Since then, Russia has annexed Crimea, fomented a war in Ukraine, provided weapons that downed an airliner and launched operations, as we just did discuss, to support Assad in Syria. As president, would you hand Vladimir Putin a reset button?”

While noting some positive achievements from the Russian “reset” such as a new nuclear weapons treaty, help resupplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan and assistance in the nuclear deal with Iran, Clinton quickly returned to Official Washington’s bash-Putin imperative:

“When Putin came back in the fall of 2011, it was very clear he came back with a mission. And I began speaking out as soon as that happened because there were some fraudulent elections held, and Russians poured out into the streets to demand their freedom, and he cracked down. And in fact, accused me of fomenting it. So we now know that he has a mixed record to say the least and we have to figure out how to deal with him.

“And I know that he’s someone that you have to continuingly stand up to because, like many bullies, he is somebody who will take as much as he possibly can unless you do. And we need to get the Europeans to be more willing to stand up, I was pleased they put sanctions on after Crimea and eastern Ukraine and the downing of the airliner, but we’ve got to be more united in preventing Putin from taking a more aggressive stance in Europe and the Middle East.”

In such situations, with millions of Americans watching, no one in Official Washington would think to  challenge the premises behind these “group thinks,” not even Bernie Sanders. No one would note that the U.S. government hasn’t provided a single verifiable fact to support its claims blaming Assad for the sarin attack or Putin for the plane shoot-down. No one would dare question the absurdity of blaming Assad for every death in Syria’s civil war or Putin for all the tensions in Ukraine. [See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com’s “MH-17’s Unnecessary Mystery.”]

Those dubious “group thinks” are simply accepted as true regardless of the absence of evidence or the presence of significant counter-evidence.

The two possibilities for such behavior are both scary: either these people, including prospective presidents, believe the propaganda or that they are so cynical and cowardly that they won’t demand proof of serious charges that could lead the United States and the world into more war and devastation.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

46 comments for “Democrats in ‘Group Think’ Land

  1. John
    January 26, 2016 at 02:07

    Note that Andrea Mitchell is a member of the CFR, and Clinton is on record saying that CFR tells her “what to do and how to think”.

    Clinton speech at CFR, 2009-07-15
    http://www.cfr.org/diplomacy-and-statecraft/conversation-us-secretary-state-hillary-rodham-clinton/p34589

  2. Carroll Price
    January 21, 2016 at 21:46

    Like Rush Limbaugh’s followers, the clowns running for president repeat the Washington propaganda because that’s all they’ve ever heard.

  3. Evangelista
    January 21, 2016 at 21:09

    “Group-think”, instigated by propaganda/advertising arts developed manipulation methods being used to introduce and popularize info-bits by couching them in catchy-phrase capsules is impossible to prevent and difficult to overcome. Overcoming requires clarifying, and clarification require explanation and explanation requires inclusion of detail that the catchy-phrasings are designed to help minds avoid and go on from, and with as baggage, to further, more interesting and exciting developments of associated ideas.

    Group-think phrases are going to crop up as temptations in presentations, especially where short answers are demanded. Also where a point a presenter wishes to focus to tangents from a construction a group-think phrase capsules succinctly. The group-think phrase becomes a stepping-stone. the presenter needs only ‘hit’ in passing to quickly move beyond. The presenter may not notice, himself, that he has accepted, and passed on in his presentation, the group-think construction he hit for it being convenient.

    Bob Parry’s article, along with focusing attention to the significant presence of group-think in the constructions of, especially, our political and cultural-presumption perspectives, also provides example of the insidiousness whith which group-think instilled constructions become fixed and parts of our perspectives, often because they do not seem, in passing, as we encounter them, important or exactly significant.

    In his article Parry refers to “Sunni” and “Shiite” factions in the conflict situation in the Middle East. “Sunni” and “Shiite” as factions of Islam that are in conflict in the Middle East today are group-think instilled mis-constructions. To recognize this immediately, consider the fact that Bashar al Assad is of Shiite descent while his wife is of Sunni descent, and that there is no conflict between them in result of this difference. There is also that most of the population of Syria is Sunni, and supports Assad. The Sunni-Shiite ‘division’ is obviously artificial and belief in it is group-think product.

    The division that is group-think defined a conflict between Sunni and Shiite is, in fact, between conservative-puritan Wahabi sect constructions and non-Wahabi-puritan Islam (both conservative and moderate).

    It is counter-productive to include non-Wahabi-puritan Sunni-background Muslims with the Wahabi-puritan sectarians who produce, perpetrate and constitute, as often as not coercively, where they have ability to coerce, conformity to their puritan constructions.

    Assad, and most Syrians, probably especially Sunni, refer to the puritan sectarians against them as ‘Wahabi’, which is more accurate, but throws a lot of Wahabi who are not aggressive and coercive about their religion into the pot with the aggressive. The fewer innocent one can leave in a classification, the better, because the numbers of wronged, confused and erroneously abused is fewer, so unhelpful reactions are fewer. Conversely, the more that can be included in a classification wrongly, the more confusion and the more abuse and reaction can be produced. This, of course, is why the propaganda purveyors have pushed the ‘Sunni-Shiite divide’ construction to be group-think accepted.

    I suggest, for a way to avoid falling into the group-think supporting trap, and to refer to the radical elements of Wahabi puritanism who constitute the real problem component that makes Da’esh an international problem, that the radicals be defined “Jihadi Fitnahtics” and referred to as such. “Jihad”, as most know, is Arabic for “struggle”; “Fitnah” is arabic for “error”, so a “fitnah jihad ” would be “a struggle for a wrong purpose”, and the neologism “Jihadi fitnahtic”, combining “fitnah” and “fanatic”, would refer to a fanatic jihadi on a wrong track, or in a wrong cause.

    If the neologism can be pushed into usage (to become a catch-phrase) it may enable a counter-group-think construction to supersede the “Sunni-Shiite” divide one, so the divide can be more correctly recognized between a radical fanatic puritan sect minority and the whole rest of the whole spectrum of the sane and non-radical followers of Islam.

  4. E Wohlers
    January 21, 2016 at 17:17

    Excellent points, Robert. You could have added one more egregious example of group think “facts” that aren’t supported by evidence, that being the accepted conclusion that Iran was behind the bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon. The evidence that the Iranians were not guilty of that incident is pointedly ignored, and politicians of all stripes take Iran’s guilt as established fact.

  5. PJ London
    January 21, 2016 at 15:35

    My question would be :”Does he say these things because he believes them, or because his audience can only digest a limited amount of truth?”
    If you move to far from the audiences world-view, you lose them.
    As the towers fell, as a trained Firefighter, I knew that it was total BS. Yet 90% of America “knew” that two planes weighing a tiny fraction of the towers weight, and with most of the fuel burning in air (and making a wonderful show) had caused the concrete to turn into dust, and a third building to fall in sympathy.
    It was impossible to talk about this, people did not want to know.
    There are a number of memes that are so ingrained, that rational discussions are impossible for the majority of the population.
    Why two party democracy is a joke. Why Money, Banking and specifically Central Banking perform necessary functions and are therefore just like other systems open to misuse and abuse, but try and have a rational debate about these organisations.
    Why Jewish people have been “hated” for centuries.
    Telling the truth is so far from possible for a politician in a “Popularity” democracy that to do so is political suicide. Trump cannot possibly be as ridiculous as he appears, he just listens to what people say and then repeats it back to them. He is a cheerleader for the popular noises.
    The only consolation (from across the ocean) is that he may get elected and then the circus will really become amusing. A whole new meaning to “send in the clowns”

  6. January 21, 2016 at 11:48

    It’s understandable that one wants to touch the whole toxic 9-11 discussion. If you observe the similar collapses of the two big towers and the free-fall of WTC-7 (http://youtu.be/Mamvq7LWqRU), there is no way to escape concluding that the US government’s narritive of 9-11 is false—whatever actually may have happened. And then add a dose of group think and voilà: false flag operation in plain sight that even muckraking journalists won’t touch.

    • Brad Owen
      January 21, 2016 at 13:21

      LaRouche described 9-11 as our “Reichstag fire” moment (the fire that Hitler operatives set to usher in Hitler’s police-state programs). It was the “coup-de-grace” moment that the Deep State “check-mated” our Constitution and Democracy. It hinged on “shoe-horning” the Cheney-Bush Regime into the driver’s seat. I think he’s right in his analysis, and don’t understand why people are so loathe to see it. But then again, I’ve had suspicions of some kind of “Deep State”-like shenanigans going on since I read “The Glass House Tapes” back in ’74’ or thereabouts. I’ve since grown accustomed to these dark suspicions, which were terrifying at first.

  7. January 21, 2016 at 10:57

    Dave Parry again cites beltway group think and the false flag sairn attack, as ways of distancing the American debate from a true narrative of US foreign policy. As I occasionally see him on TV, he too must owe some allegiance to the insider viewpoint. I expect that’s why he likes to trace the current Middle East debacle to the Iraq invasion of 2003 instead of to our local false flag “attack” of September 2011.

    If you raise the issue of how four, slow moving, domestic flights outwitted the worlds most advanced air force, and even got over Washington, then Parry falls right back into group think with the best of the neocons. If he didn’t he’d be further shunned by insiders who put him on TV to espouse his views and promote his brand.

    The only professional group of people who are brave enough to speak up on this issue are architects and engineers, several thousand of whom have examined the three 9-11 tower collapses on their scientific merits. (http://www1.ae911truth.org/)

    Parry is a journalist and he has to interview someone to form an opinion. That’s his blind spot, especially because he only wants to interview Washington insiders himself. That makes it impossible for him to look at building collapse and say, “That’s improbable; there must be other answers.” However would he interview one of the heads of the architect/engineer group cited above, he might come to a new and unavoidable conclusion, one that might imperil his safe position in the group he decries in this article.

  8. jg
    January 20, 2016 at 23:25

    The “group think” label is too mild and exculpatory. It takes deliberate effort to ignore American atrocities and covert support to terrorists. You have to want to not know when even the Vice President speaks out of turn and the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency accuses the White House, essentially, of treason.

    We can only hope that Sanders is just playing along, and that he will pull the world back from the brink of nuclear annihilation. I doubt very much that he’s stomach covert support to terrorists.

    In the meantime, the more we press on this the better:

    Why ISIS Exists: The Double Game
    https://politicalfilm.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/why-isis-exists-the-double-game/

  9. alexander
    January 20, 2016 at 17:30

    How right you are Mr Parry, in seeing the unquestioning attitude of the chief democratic contenders, on the major “war” narratives, and the pivotal moments that underscore them, as proof of either a conscious or unconscious acceptance of the “fraud” that substantiates them.

    Such is the “power” of our “war makers” … that their grip on all those vying for public office must surrender all scrutiny to the prime directives of “perpetual war” and the faulty premises that impel them.

    How tragic a time we live in, when getting the facts “right” on issues as important as war and peace, is considered a death knell for any who seek higher office.

    It does not bode well for a United States straining to retain what little integrity it has left on the world stage and what little solvency it has left…. in its piggy bank at home.

    • 3.14e-9
      January 21, 2016 at 23:27

      Nothing like ignoring anything that doesn’t fit the narrative. Here are Sanders’s “warlike” policies, in his own words:

      I’m not running to pursue reckless adventures abroad, but to rebuild America’s strength at home. I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will never send our sons and daughters to war under false pretense or pretenses or into dubious battles with no end in sight.

      To my mind, it is clear that the United States must pursue policies to destroy the brutal and barbaric ISIS regime, and to create conditions that prevent fanatical extremist ideologies from flourishing. But we cannot – and should not – do it alone.

      Our response must begin with an understanding of past mistakes and missteps in our previous approaches to foreign policy. It begins with the acknowledgment that unilateral military action should be a last resort, not a first resort, and that ill-conceived military decisions, such as the invasion of Iraq, can wreak far-reaching devastation and destabilize entire regions for decades. It begins with the reflection that the failed policy decisions of the past – rushing to war, regime change in Iraq, or toppling Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or Guatemalan President Árbenz in 1954, Brazilian President Goulart in 1964, Chilean President Allende in 1973. These are the sorts of policies do not work, do not make us safer, and must not be repeated.

      [Speech at Georgetown University, Nov. 19, 2015]

  10. Mary Fishler
    January 20, 2016 at 17:27

    What can we expect from the moderators of this and other debates, Democratic and Republican alike? Isn’t Andrea Mitchell’s husband Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Chairman and a post financial meltdown financial advisor to the Saudi Royal Family? The public has a right and a need to know what their possible biases or conflicts of interest are. I would love to have debates hosted by Robert Parry and/or other writers we read at Consortium News.

    • January 20, 2016 at 17:34

      What can we expect from the moderators of this and other debates, Democratic and Republican alike? Isn’t Andrea Mitchell’s husband Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Chairman and a post financial meltdown financial advisor to the Saudi Royal Family? The public has a right and a need to know what their possible biases or conflicts of interest are. I would love to have debates hosted by Robert Parry and/or other writers we read at Consortium News.

      • Regina Schulte
        January 21, 2016 at 12:16

        Moderator Andrea Mitchell framed her questions in such a way
        that they exposed her biases. (And, yes, I couldn’t help but think
        of Alan Greenspan’s role in so much of what has given us the current
        state of affairs.

  11. David Smith
    January 20, 2016 at 16:47

    Ms. Clinton’s answers do not sound extemporaneous, in the strict meaning of the word. Her answers, as recorded by Mr. Parry in print, read as if they were written, arranged, and edited on a page, and do not have the feel of oral speech ( unlike Mr. Sanders answers). I suspect that Clinton’s team was given the questions well in advance, She did not write the answers, but did memorize them. Sanders did not get the questions in advance.

    • Pat
      January 20, 2016 at 17:15

      I suspect you are right, and that she not only was given the answers, but her team likely had a hand in framing the questions.

  12. Pat
    January 20, 2016 at 16:13

    Sanders has acknowledged the rich Gulf states are funding terrorism and allowing them to move freely over their borders.

    His insistence that the Saudis get involved needs to be put in context. Historically, the Saudis have expected United States protection, and last March they told SoS Kerry they wanted U.S. troops on the ground to fight ISIS. Sanders was outraged and ripped into them for expecting the United States to send troops to fight and die to protect the “billionaire royal family” (paraphrase). So, first of all, it wasn’t an out-of-the-blue suggestion that the Saudis unleash their military on their neighbors.

    That comment stemmed from earlier remarks he’d made about nations in the region stepping up to the plate. Again, the context was that U.S. troops shouldn’t be sent to fight a foreign war that wasn’t ours. Moreover, U.S. presence was causing more chaos. He made those remarks when Obama was asking Congress to approve authority for the use of force, which Sanders voted against. He issued some press statements and appeared in television interviews, and media tend to use one or two pithy quotes (as Parry is doing here, ironically). To get the whole picture, you need to look for it rather than relying on the MSM. This is part of what didn’t get published:

    “I fear very much the U.S. being dragged into a never-ending quagmire in the Middle East, a perpetual war which will cost us more lives, more injuries and hundreds of billions of dollars,” Sanders said. “The war against ISIS, a dangerous and brutal organization, cannot be won by the United States alone. It must be won primarily by nations in the region – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Iran – which must be prepared to send ground troops into action to defeat Islamic extremists.”

    Entire release here:
    http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-calls-for-arab-nations-to-step-up-fight-against-islamic-state

  13. rosemerry
    January 20, 2016 at 14:31

    ” Assad is a butcher of his own people, man using chemical weapons against his own people. ” Sanders or anyone else seems to accept the lies, as well as make us think
    1. it is ok to kill other countries’ people, as “we” do all the time (as well as our own killed by our police).
    2. We supported Assad and his much worse father when we wanted “terrorists” to be tortured.
    3. “We”, including Sanders and the much worse Killary, support the decades long murders, thefts, tortures, bone-breaking, house destruction, humiliation, viciousness by “our friends” the Israelis of their “own” native people, the Palestinians.

    • Pat
      January 20, 2016 at 15:35

      Sanders is the only candidate I know of who has acknowledged the long history of U.S. covert operations to overthrow foreign governments and to go farther still by saying outright that it was bad foreign policy; not only aren’t we any safer for it, but meddling in the Middle East destabilized the region and created an opening for the Islamic State. And whether or not he believes that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack, he has stated very clearly that taking out Assad would cause more chaos and that a transition to democracy in Syria needs to happen over time, under the leadership of the Syrians themselves. That seems to me to be far more significant than reinforcing the prevailing belief not only among Washington but among the majority of voters. Seriously, can you imagine if he said “Assad didn’t do it?” And then tried to prove it to the satisfaction of the majority of voters?

      As for Israel, Sanders has not supported their attacks on Gaza. I’ve tried in other threads to explain how this erroneous information continues to get repeated all over the internet, but unfortunately, the explanation involves arcane Senate rules that can’t be conveyed in 25 words or less. In the meantime, you can go to his Senate website and read what he says about Israel. It doesn’t go far enough for Palestinian rights activists, but that he criticizes Israel at all shows that he is capable of breaking with the group think.

    • Alan
      January 21, 2016 at 17:26

      Another assumption by the debaters is that the logical, the desirable, the inevitable end of the chaos in Syria is to be the removal of Assad, presumably in the name of democracy. Assad is just short of being wildly popular in Syria, as several polls have affirmed. And he won a third term with more than 85 percent of the votes. The wishes of the Syrian people are to be ignored so that Zionists can move on to their next complaint.

      • Pat
        January 21, 2016 at 23:17

        Which is why Sanders believes the transition must be led by the Syrians:

        “I am pleased that we saw last weekend diplomats from all over world, known as the International Syria Support Group, set a timetable for a Syrian-led political transition with open and fair elections. These are the promising beginnings of a collective effort to end the bloodshed and to move to political transition. The diplomatic plan for Assad’s transition from power is a good step in a united front. But our priority must be to defeat ISIS.”

        ISSG participants are the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States. They don’t have a website but you can do a Google search and find out what they are doing.

    • Peter Loeb
      January 22, 2016 at 07:39

      A COMMITY VOTER OR AN ADVOCATE?

      “When I was a young boy…” the story always begins. Then
      I was taught that as soon as I could walk I had to vote to
      prove I was human…or the next best thing. If I could not
      remember that date of Christmas, I was taught the
      inexorable date of US Presidential elections’ “The
      first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.” Of every
      leap year.

      Now in my dotage, my views are changed. I am more an
      advocate than a voting commodity. Leaving German
      fascism (there were many anti-Semitic parties and
      traditions from the middle of the 19th century), one wonders
      if in the US I would feel obliged–as if by
      “law” to support the slaveholding candidate with the fewest
      slaves. There were no other choices. And Indian-hating
      was in those years a national consensus in those
      years.

      I cannot vote for a candidate “including Sanders, and the much
      worse Killary, support the decades long murders, thefts, tortures,
      bone-breaking house destruction, humiliation, vicitiousness by
      ‘our friends’ the Israelis of their own native people, the Palestinians.”
      (Rosemerry, above).

  14. Pablo Diablo
    January 20, 2016 at 14:13

    Gotta keep the war machine well fed. Hillary has NO credibility. Bernie may be our last chance, but after Kennedy, no one has taken on the war machine or the intelligence community. WAKE UP AMERICA.

  15. Tom Welsh
    January 20, 2016 at 13:59

    ‘“Understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with; their support of terrorism, the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from their leadership is something that is not acceptable,” Sanders said’.

    Ironic, and not a little frightening, that everything those American politicians assert about Iran is untrue; but would be true, if said about the USA.

    Support for terrorism: the USA is one of the greatest purveyors of terrorism the world has ever seen; while it may not be quite as single-minded and deliberate as Attila, Genghis Khan, Timur Lenk, Hitler or Pol Pot, thanks to its worldwide reach and vastly greater resources it may have killed as many people as most of them, and ruined the lives of many more. It has now got to the stage where the USA’s victims can no longer be numbered as individuals: we must shift the scale and count nations destroyed.

    Anti-Iranian rhetoric: Whereas everything the Iranian leaders have said about the USA is true, it is mostly a huge understatement. But the anti-Iranian rhetoric flooding out of Washington is wholly false and wickedly malicious.

    To ask whether those people believe what they say is to ask whether they are actually insane or merely vicious psychopaths. I incline to the latter.

  16. Bill Cash
    January 20, 2016 at 09:44

    That dcoumentary is not conspiracy driven. It’s about what JFK did and wanted to do. It doesn’t go into his death at all.

  17. Bill Cash
    January 20, 2016 at 09:32

    Everyone should have to watch the documentary JFK: A President Betrayed.

    I don’t think we will ever know the truth about his death. There were too many owerful interests in this country who hated him.

    • AriusArmenian
      January 20, 2016 at 13:12

      Howard Hunt was the paymaster for the assassins in a Dallas Hotel. A Cuban woman was with the assassins who decided to return to Florida where later one of group in Dallas told her they had a great time and killed the president. Certainly Allen Dulles seemed to know based on what he did on Nov 22nd. Before he died Hunt implicated Johnson as approving the plan.

      The assassination was implemented by members of the CIA and intelligence agencies. Oswald was working for the FBI to infiltrate the CIA networks in Texas to find the camps that Kennedy charged Hoover to find and terminate. The plotters used Oswald as the patsy to prevent Hoover from exposing the planners of the assassination. They always set up a patsy, like also in the King assassination.

      All the above is now in the public domain. One good source is The Devils Chessboard. Understanding the Dulles brothers and what they created, the US Deep State, is essential to understanding why they killed Kennedy and how their ilk has ruled the US ever since.

  18. John Smith
    January 20, 2016 at 08:07

    We have truly arrived at 1984, Ministry of Love (miniluv) Ministry of Truth (minitru) and Minstry of Plenty (miniplenty). Mass thought control has been made possible by monopoly ownership of the media. A largely dumbed-down audience is manipulated by PR and advertising techniques as pioneered by Edward Bernays and operationalised by Josef Geobbels; one narrative dominates – a narrative which was incubated in the inner party, and disseminated to the population at large by the outer party. The contemporary version of ‘two-minutes hate’ is now juxtaposed to the contemporary version of demonization of the arch-enemy, Vladimir Putin in the role of Emmanuel Goldstein.

    Double-think is easily recognisable in the mental thought processes of the neo-cons and their fellow travelers. Which according to Orwell ” …is not far from clinical schizophrenia.”
    Of course the most notable feature is the blatant double standards employed. Orwell explains: ”Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassinations, – the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side”

    All very familiar and unfortunately timeless.

    One wonders whether such infantile reasoning is, for the cynical motives of political expediency, taken seriously by the political elites; this would be bad enough. But what is really disturbing is that they might actually believe what they are saying. If the latter I am afraid we are in serious trouble.

  19. Peter Loeb
    January 20, 2016 at 06:35

    WHO TO SUPPORT?

    I join others in appreciation of Robert Parry’s attempt
    to make sense of the absurd (US politics).

    The late theologian Michael Prior, CM observed in his
    book THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM: A MORAL
    CRITIQUE (p. 14):

    “Responsibility for moral judgement and action rests
    with the individual and cannot be exercised vicariously.
    Moral responsibility may not be shifted even
    to others more gifted, l;earned and morally upright
    than oneself.”

    In this context, I wonder how in the hell (excuse) I can
    support those with whom I so radically disagree.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Erik
      January 20, 2016 at 07:36

      Good article. Your comment dilemma is of course widely shared. I suppose that the answer is to work for what is right and vote for what is least wrong, only because the election process is known to be corrupt anyway. The primary choice between a militarist halfwit and an Obamoid hoodwink is revulsive as well. One doesn’t wish to have supported scammers, unless the alternatives were far worse.

    • Tom Welsh
      January 20, 2016 at 14:04

      Peter, I don’t think you can support anyone standing as a Democrat or a Republican – any more than you would vote for a Nazi Party candidate, no matter how relatively wholesome he seemed as an individual. Perhaps rather ahead of his time, or perhaps more perceptive because he stood entirely outside the system, Jerry Garcia hit the nail on the head back in the 1970s:

      “Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil”.

      Barring a tidal wave of popular support sweeping an entirely new party into power, the USA’s only chance is – ironically – regime change. Not in the sense of a different president, but in the sense of a different constitution. (Or, if that seems preferable, you could go back to taking the existing one seriously).

      As the US authorities did in Germany, Japan, Iraq and other places, every single person who enjoyed a position of authority under the old dispensation should be fired, and never allowed to hold such a position again.

  20. Laurie
    January 20, 2016 at 04:37

    We go nuts because it is our country. Being ruined in our worldwide relations. It seems somehow worse to see Sanders dissemble on the Mideast when he appears truthful in other areas, which makes me wonder if he actually is just a slave to the polls and responds accordingly. The people would do better if they had the facts before them in this debate. It is the corporate media fomenting and bullying the narrative, trying to direct thru their questioning the public policy they would like to report on to suit their masters. Invisible hands hard at work and even Sanders a willing pawn. My vote is that they are all craven and cowardly. Rank fear is not a comforting sign to observe in them.

    • Bob Van Noy
      January 20, 2016 at 11:01

      This forum, with well thought out and civil responses from people who are clearly readers, or perhaps those who can still read clearly; is the one place that feels like truth in an otherwise surreal atmosphere. It is our contemporary problem. The only easy solution is democracy. This discussion is the beginning; where we go from here is in the future, and even good readers don’t know the future.
      We’re at the curtain, we simply need to pull it back to see what we will.

    • dahoit
      January 22, 2016 at 13:22

      He is a Zionist,brought up on myths.

  21. Joey
    January 20, 2016 at 00:53

    One might suspect that such a “debate” before two such participants is all prefigured, even though it is so well known that any skillful politico’s stock in trade specialty is to quickly and simply twist any figurative steel rock hard verbal bar into a dazzling pretzel.
    A “good” politician is never concerned with facts, only outcomes, regardless.
    Established democracy today is perpetual joke; a game wherein honesty and truth stand to be severely punished.
    Yet, seemingly intelligent citizens still go nuts over it every time.

  22. Joe Tedesky
    January 20, 2016 at 00:39

    I appreciate this memorable reflective article you have written here Mr Parry. I watched the debate with some friends who knew I was having a hard time with the NBC moderators, and their skewed questions. Afterwards, I was able to turn these friends of mine on to the truth. This will be a great read to further my dear friends on to learn more about what is really going on.

  23. Bill Bodden
    January 20, 2016 at 00:39

    The Democrats and NBC may have talked the talk of group think (Sanders not as much), but compared with the Trump-Palin circus today they are models of enlightenment. In the history of American presidential campaigns has there ever been a parade of charlatans as deplorable as Clinton, Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Fiorina and Christie?

    • AriusArmenian
      January 20, 2016 at 12:59

      Enlightenment? Both sides support the killing of millions, demonize Assad, Russia, China, Iran, and you call one more enlightened than the other?

      Nothing will change. Have your fun sending your demons onto the hated object where you revile yourself.

      • Bill Bodden
        January 20, 2016 at 14:53

        Did you miss in my comment “compared with” and “charlatans as deplorable as Clinton“? As for your last sentence I’m at a complete loss to comprehend what your are talking about.

    • John
      January 20, 2016 at 15:28

      Trump has actually been the one most questioning the establishment narrative about Putin.

      I will be the first to say that his fascism and xenophobia, as well as his racism in general are utterly deplorable, and that he scarcely deserves even being called “human”, but on the one topic of opposing the establishment narrative of Putin, he is far better than any of the other candidates offered by the Corporate Party with Two Faces (and yes, I include Sanders here.)

      This is by no means an endorsement for him, but for the truth (and for the destruction of the blind partisanship that truth necessitates.)

      • Bill Bodden
        January 20, 2016 at 20:10

        John, I agree with you, but we have to guard against giving too much credit for saving graces. There were points made by Trump early on that suggested he might be the lesser evil to Clinton, but he is on a neo-fascist roll now making her look like the lesser evil.

        There is an example of this saving grace problem that applies to Clinton. Meryl Streep told an audience of women she supported Clinton because three women claimed Hillary saved their lives. If that is the only thing people know about Clinton then it is understandable they would vote for her, but as I’m sure you know there is much more to the “Queen of Chaos” (ref. Diana Johnstone) and her resume: Wal-Mart board member, as co-president/director in the White House Theater of the Absurd there were Kosovo and the wars in the Balkans, sanctions on Iraq that were fatal to an estimated half million Iraqi children, supporting repeal of Glass-Steagall, promoting the war on Iraq, etc., As secretary of state there was her role related to the tragedies in Gaza, Libya and Syria. When Mubarak was overthrown she promoted the idea of General Suleiman replacing him. Among his jobs, Suleiman was in charge of Egypt’s torture chambers.

        As for Sanders, if he does make it into the White House and he tries to implement his good ideas there will be a reprise of what happened to Jimmy Carter. The oligarchs of both parties (Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Debbie WTF Schulz (ref. Andrew Levine) for the Democrats) will gang up on him and nothing will happen. Which may be the best we can hope fore.

      • G
        January 22, 2016 at 00:05

        roosevelt would have called the clinton’s copperheads as he tried in vain to get so called liberal democrats elected vs the democratic copperheads–the press stated he and elanour had vd–ford told employees not to vote for roosevelt as many other employers–the child labor laws were considered originating from the kremlin…social security was communism…as just as previous supreme court legalized slavery-that court found new deal and hourly wage and unions…unconstitutional…but now we have the image of reagen on present supreme court coming out-vote restrictions to unless you worship reagen you don’t get any money…

        Interesting while ronald wilson reagen prior to putting in his 666 policies—was in iowa 1936–driving around in his nash convertible–record bitter cold and record snow followed severe flooding in spring followed record hot temperature summer-and February 6 1936 his birthday-severe blizzard all over iowa-THE TOUGHEST RECORDED IN MODERN HISTORY-1937 he then proceeded to california where embraced and made some movies-knew the depression but became anti roosevelt–to where his influence in the ronald wilson reagen revolution has taken over both parties so thus the reagen bush party vs reagen clinton party and people are told to be excited to vote for the lesser the lesser of 2 evils–a press reaganized–all parrots to each other and run by antichrist beasts–not christianity the untold wealth they are stealing just as hitler’s generals horded all the gold–the slanted reagen news to reagen’s image on supreme court to sheldon aldeson cheif rabbi of us and israel preaching from his synogogue at the venitian gambling casino hotel at sin city where the repub anti lincoln candidates go to get baptized and receive huge campaign contributions from his billion dollar war chest and owns alot isra newspapers and now main nevada newspaper competing with murdock who put on the wings of satan long ago has fox cable mouthpeiece of reagen and then bought wall street journal so we have competition well the reagen journal says vs fox news…with his hero karl rove passing around satans huge collection basket nudging the rich and ceo beasts to contribute to the campaign as all we did for you…meanwhile karl has his millions and seeking more for himself while bush laughs got all to contribute 500 millions to his church library while record temps that year and most 100 degree days with most ever later in sept when one thought couldn’t happen 108.9-he laughed just as he laughed the iraq war and laughed 2005 hurricane after hurricane after hurricane season–you’d think rumour has it anyways that god’s son has returned fighting without weapons–taking on form man from uncle fighting thrush or live real james bond or patton all alone right in germany fighting hitler by himself–how thrush limbaugh is prospering and fire phil donahue and dan rather and war criminals laughing going about town in their lamborgini’s while obomba won’t pardon the whistleblowers-friend to the treasury dept where wall street and goldman sachs…rule- wants tpp fire the workers just as clinton nafta fire to workers while the mrs attires best clothing as close south textile industry-and clothes poss worn by those who died in slave camps factories burned to death overseas-oboma wants 1 billion for his church library-that the present workers and next generation workers fired from good standard of living jobs—that the inflation from gas prices–carter should have put in back to street electric cars-that oil is not ours to steal let alone war until ready negotiate oil middle east and or find energy alternatives…hire newt gingrich–by cnn who while tried clinton monica impeachment bragged to clinton later that he was having adultrous affair while doing that–was too much for cnn as they paved the way for him to cnn to enhance their pots of gold in not christinaity reagen polices rules—didn’t reagen love cia to hire divorced such as himself men as they were more unscrupulous for the throwing 6’s and 7’s throught the world–does the cia work for murdock and fox news or does murdock and fox news work for the cia—the reagen revolution in full thrust–and the pope won’t allow priests to marry – god made woman for the man–and won’t allow birth control but states sin while earth overpopulated but papacy sat with reagen and bush and approved the satanic iraq war while people in us ate popcorn looking at the bombs coming down on iraq as though 4 of july event brought to you by cnn fox nbc cbs abc….men, women and children and infrastructure was being blown up to bits
        long live god
        oh -and long live michael the archangel

      • G
        January 24, 2016 at 21:23

        Thought would just add as getting ready for church service–that the moon turned red during reagens first term–he must have laughed–that this was result ash from volcano mt st helens—that that is abel’s blood up there—that’s all i’m mentioning tonite as many others blood up there

        also murdock with his billions has helped put in repub governors thruought – greedy selfish antichrist pigs picking on public sector teachers…while found out my state but also alot of others—adam 12 lincoln expressway peace officer vs____ did some detective work—why there’s so much armed robberies and deaths—example my state pizza owner killed by 17 year old female wearing mask after given the money, crime breaking in food store at night but somehow police found out and sent…police dog killed and officer wounded, 4 young assailants in van all with guns including female robbing about–that the detective work is why—here my state doesn’t give a penny for male or female general assistance-no money no food stamps and families or mother with kids gets money only for (36) months–instituted by greedy selfish antichrist business people running for politic as cousins kkk nazi white citizens counsel satanism while there’s no money for candidates statemen all areas

        the bills vs san fran 49 montana prior to super bowl 25 bills vs buffalo-quarterback sat on bench 4 years and old runner done like mission impossible by the now heretics to the new orthodoxy reagen revolution god and god’s son and little girl for example

        in closing in genesis god bruised satan’s head

        i preach the fear of the lord part of and wonderful creation…
        long live god
        long live michael the archangel
        cry for innocent abel — who was murdered–because–his offering was more acceptable to god the lord almighty

    • Emory R
      January 21, 2016 at 08:42

      No. The Dems and the GOP are interchangeable on Iran. Both parties are dominated by Zionists when it comes to the ME and Russia.

    • William Rood
      January 21, 2016 at 17:12

      …compared with the Trump-Palin circus…

      Right. Ted Bundy was a “model of enlightenment” compared with Jeffrey Dahmers, because at least Ted wasn’t a cannibal.

    • dahoit
      January 22, 2016 at 13:17

      Trump is the only candidate to call the Iraq war stupid,Libya the same,and is the only one to say America mind its own business.
      So who are the idiots?And charlatans?

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