Sanders the ‘Realist’; Hillary the ‘Neocon’

Exclusive: Sen. Sanders finds himself on the defensive in his uphill primary fight against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in part because he shies away from defining himself as a “realist” and asking if she is a “neocon,” writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Hillary Clinton has scored points against Bernie Sanders by tagging him as a “single-issue candidate” who harps again and again on income inequality. Though the “single-issue” charge is false the Vermont Senator actually addresses a wide range of topics from global warming to health care to college costs Clinton’s attack line has been effective nonetheless

It works, in part, because Sanders shies away from thorough discussions about his views on foreign policy while Clinton can tout her résumé as a globetrotter both as First Lady and Secretary of State.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)

Sanders also has left himself open to attacks from neoconservatives and liberal interventionists that he is a “closet realist.” For instance, The Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote recently: “Is Bernie Sanders a closet foreign policy ‘realist’? Reading his few pronouncements on foreign policy, you sense that he embraces the realists’ deep skepticism about U.S. military intervention.”

But what if Sanders came out of the closet and “confessed” to being a “realist” while posing the alternative question: Is Hillary Clinton a “closet neocon” who is seen by key neocons as “the vessel” in which they have placed their hopes for extending their power and expanding their policies? Might that question reenergize Sanders’s suddenly flagging campaign and force Clinton to venture beyond a few talking points on foreign policy?

Rather than largely ceding the field to Clinton except in noting her Iraq War vote while he opposed that disastrous war of choice Sanders could say, “yes, I’m a realist when it comes to foreign policy. I’m in line with early presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson who warned about the dangers of foreign entanglements. While I believe America should lead in the world, it should not go ‘abroad in search of monsters to destroy,’ as John Quincy Adams wisely noted.

“I’m also in agreement with Dwight Eisenhower who warned about the dangers to the Republic from the Military-Industrial Complex and I agree with John Kennedy who recognized the many legitimate concerns of Third World countries emerging from colonialism. I have learned from my own years in Congress that there’s no faster way to destroy a Republic than to behave as an Empire.”

Hiding Facts

Sanders could note, too, that the other way to destroy a Republic is to use the secrecy stamp too liberally, to hide too many key facts from the American people, not because of legitimate national security concerns but because it’s easier to manipulate a public that is fed a steady diet of propaganda. The American people, he might say, are citizens deserving respect, not mushrooms kept in the dark and fertilized.

On that point, Sanders might even note that he and Hillary Clinton may be in agreement, since the former Secretary of State’s team has complained that some of her infamous emails are now being classified retroactively in what her aides complain is an exercise in over-classification. Of course, the key reason for Clinton using a private server was to keep her communications hidden from later public scrutiny.

If Sanders is asked about specifics regarding where the line is between legitimate secrets and propagandistic manipulation, he could cite how President George W. Bush played games with intelligence by hyping claims about Iraq’s WMD and Saddam Hussein’s ties to Al Qaeda.

Or Sanders could note the case of the sarin-gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, which almost drew President Barack Obama into a full-scale war in Syria.

If indeed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible as the Obama administration claimed and the mainstream U.S. news media repeats endlessly then the U.S. government should present the evidence to the American people. Or, if one of the jihadist rebel groups was behind the attack trying to trick the U.S. into joining the war on the jihadist side lay that evidence out even if it means admitting to a rush-to-judgment against Assad’s forces. [See’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Similarly, on the issue of Ukraine: if the former government of President Viktor Yanukovych was at fault for the Maidan sniper attacks on Feb. 20, 2014, as was widely alleged at the time, put forward the evidence. If the snipers were extremists among the Maidan protesters trying to create a provocation as more recent evidence suggests give those facts to the American people.

The same applies to the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Yes, the suggestion that Russia was responsible has proved to be an effective propaganda club to beat Vladimir Putin over the head, but if the tragedy was really the fault of some element of the U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime and if U.S. intelligence knows that fess up. Stop the game-playing.

Who’s in Charge?

It should not be the job of the U.S. government to mislead and confuse the American people. That reverses the proper order of a Republic in which “We the People” are the sovereigns and government officials are the servants.

Sanders might say, too, that he realizes neoconservatives believe in tricking the American people to support preordained policies that the neocons have cooked up in one of their think tanks, as happened with the Iraq War and the Project for the New American Century.

But a Sanders administration, he might say, would show respect for the citizenry, putting the people back in charge and putting the think tanks which live off the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex back in their subordinate place.

Yes, it’s true that such a call for democracy, truth and pragmatism would infuriate the mainstream media, which has largely accepted its role as a propaganda organ for the neocons. But Sanders could take on that fight, much as Donald Trump has on the Republican side.

It was Trump who finally confronted the Republican Party with the reality about George W. Bush’s negligence prior to the 9/11 attacks and his deceptions about Iraq’s WMD. So far, it appears that the Republican base can handle the truth.

The GOP establishment’s frantic efforts to sustain the fictions that Bush “kept us safe” and his supposed sincerity in believing his WMD falsehoods fell flat in South Carolina where Trump trounced the Republican field and forced Bush’s brother Jeb to drop out of the race.

Does Sanders have the courage to believe that the Democratic base is at least as ready for the truth about Hillary Clinton’s entanglement in the serial deceptions that have justified a host of U.S. imperial wars, including the current ones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria? Sanders might even respond to the accusations that he is a “closet realist” by not just admitting to his foreign policy pragmatism but asking whether Hillary Clinton is a “closet neocon.”

After all, Robert Kagan, who co-founded the neocon Project for the American Century, told The New York Times in 2014 that he hoped that his neocon views which he now prefers to call “liberal interventionist” would prevail in a possible Hillary Clinton administration.

Secretary of State Clinton named Kagan to one of her State Department advisory boards and promoted his wife, neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the provocative “regime change” in Ukraine in 2014.

The Times reported that Clinton “remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes” and quoted Kagan as saying: “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy.   If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”

Indeed, with populist billionaire Donald Trump seizing control of the Republican race with victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the neocons may find themselves fully siding with Hillary Clinton’s campaign as it becomes the last hope for their interventionist strategies. Ironically, too, many “realists” and anti-war activists may find Trump’s rejection of neocon orthodoxy and readiness to cooperate with Moscow to resolve conflicts more appealing than Clinton’s hopped-up belligerence.

Obviously, many anti-war Democrats would prefer that Sanders step forward as their champion and offer a cogent explanation about how the neocons and liberal hawks have harmed U.S. and world interests by spreading chaos across the Middle East and now into North Africa and Europe. But that would require Sanders embracing the word “realist” and asking whether his rival is a “neocon.”

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

49 comments for “Sanders the ‘Realist’; Hillary the ‘Neocon’

  1. Hillary
    February 26, 2016 at 06:55

    Hillary supported the invasion of Iraq and later admitted it was a mistake.
    Then she supported the attack on Libya.
    Hillary was a neocon and a war criminal but Bernie Sanders dare not say it and until he does he will nit win.

  2. Bruce
    February 25, 2016 at 19:21

    Worse, fresh Hellary CLINTON is a burning Bush, Poppy protege PNAC Attacker epitomized!

  3. rosemerry
    February 25, 2016 at 17:46

    “Reading his few pronouncements on foreign policy, you sense that he embraces the realists’ deep skepticism about U.S. military intervention.”

    How terrible!!!!! Vote for Bernie!

  4. pfiore8
    February 25, 2016 at 14:57

    Sanders’ campaign isn’t flagging, btw . . .

  5. incontinent reader
    February 25, 2016 at 11:02

    Not that this reader approves of the NDAA, but wouldn’t the President have the authority under it to arrest and indefinitely detain the backroom boys (if he found out who they were before they got to him first)?

    And like Putin in Russia, with a 90% public approval rating that has insulated him from a palace coup by the Atlanticists, and Roosevelt during the Depression and War, he could use the bully pulpit to garner the support and political legitimacy he would need to rein in the MSM and blast the bastards out of the water.

  6. Abe
    February 25, 2016 at 02:06

    Finally, Bernie’s foreign policy is getting some attention:

    Tablet Magazine, the stridently pro-Israel online journal of Nextbook press, is a project financed by venture philanthropist Mem Bernstein, a Director of the pugnaciously neoconservative Tikvah Fund.

    Tikvah Fund is a philanthropic foundation “committed to supporting the intellectual, religious, and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State”. It co-opts scholars and scholarship under a direct neoconservative interest.

    In Israel, the Tikvah Fund is the primary financial backing for the Shalem Center, a right-wing think tank in Israel which itself is the sponsor of the neocon Jewish journal Azure.

    Arch neocons William Kristol and Elliott Abrams serve on the Board of Directors of the Tikvah Fund along with Bernstein.

    So what prompted Tablet Magazine’s sudden burst of attention to Sander’s foreign policy help?

    A February 24 article by Michael Crowley, Politico’s senior foreign affairs correspondent, mentioned that Sanders had “reached out to at least one former member of George W. Bush’s administration” — Lawrence Wilkerson, retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Crowley noted that Wilkerson had “helped prepare Powell’s famous United Nations speech accusing Iraq of hiding a weapons of mass destruction program, but became a hero on the left after turning against the Iraq War and saying in 2005 that he had unwittingly ‘participated in a hoax’ against the American people and the world. He has also said that Vice President Dick Cheney should be ‘in jail for war crimes’ and that some Republicans, including John McCain were ‘bordering on being traitors’ for their opposition to President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal”.

    Sanders’ outreach to Wilkerson was bound to raise the hackles of the neocons who had championed the Iraq War.

    Yair Rosenberg, a senior writer at Tablet and the editor of “Israel’s Documented Story,” the English-language blog of Israel’s National Archives, found it ominous that Wilkerson had Sanders’ ear.

    Rosenberg wrote: “Disillusioned by the Iraq War, he later remade himself as a sharp critic of American foreign policy, slowly sliding to the extremes of the political discourse–which is how he came to insinuate that Israel was gassing Syrians to frame their dictator, Bashar al-Assad.

    “In March 2013, after Western intelligence officials had confirmed that Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people, Wilkerson went on TV to alternately cast suspicion on the victims and the Jewish state. In an interview with Current TV, Wilkerson told host Cenk Uygur: ‘This could’ve been an Israeli false flag operation, it could’ve been an opposition in Syria … or it could’ve been an actual use by Bashar Assad.’ In other words, the Syrian rebels might have gassed themselves to place blame on Assad, or Israel might have.

    “While journalist Seymour Hersh has claimed that the rebels carried out these attacks (and been widely debunked), neither he nor anyone else has ever suggested that Israel had anything to do with them. Only cranks–or worse–would insinuate that the Jewish state was somehow responsible for such an atrocity.”

    Rosenburg’s insistence that claims of rebel responsibility for the chemical attacks near Damascus had been “widely debunked” was supported with a link to the December 2013 article, “Sy Hersh’s Chemical Misfire” written by Eliot Higgins.

    Higgins, aka Brown Moses, is a faux “citizen investigative journalist”. Higgins’ accusations that the Syrian government was responsible for the August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack were proven false, but almost led to war.

    Richard Lloyd and Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology criticized Higgins: “although he has been widely quoted as an expert in the American mainstream media, [he] has changed his facts every time new technical information has challenged his conclusion that the Syrian government must have been responsible for the sarin attack. In addition, the claims that Higgins makes that are correct are all derived from our findings, which have been transmitted to him in numerous exchanges.”

    Despite the fact that Higgins’ accusations have repeatedly been proven false, he continues to be frequently cited, often without proper source attribution, by media, organizations and governments.

    So there you have it: A principal neocon propaganda organ, Tablet Magazine, has attacked Sanders with an appeal to the work of notorious deception operative Eliot Higgins.

    Will Sanders start carrying the fight back to the neocons, including Hillary?

    Or will he continue to play the nebbish, act like Obama, and continue to “signal” that he is “ready to make nice” with the neocons?

  7. RPDC
    February 25, 2016 at 02:03

    This was a fantastic article – many thanks. I have been on Team Bernie for a while now, and his interventionist history has been my biggest hangup. He fairly earned the nickname Bernie the Bomber many moons ago.

    This week, he provided a strong signal that he’s serious about reforming US imperialism and fired a warning shot across the bow of the MIC. Specifically, he announced that his initial foreign policy team includes Lawrence Wilkerson, who is of the Smedley Butler variety of former military officers. He did a fantastic interview back in December with Abby Martin on Empire Files that’s worth watching.

    He also added Bill French, who has pushed to scrap the F-35.

    • Brad Owen
      February 25, 2016 at 13:10

      Thanks RPDC. I watched the youtube. This is very encouraging that Sen. Sanders tapped him for service. Now if we can just make it to election time without a false-flag incident…and somebody make sure Bernie has a flak-vest on. It’s also chilling that Mr. Wilkerson doesn’t think the needed course-change is going to be some neat, tidy, easy thing to do. I get the impression that we’ll go through something like the Soviet Union did in the nineties (tanks firing on Congress or White House, tanks lined up against massive protest crowds, shootings…that sort of thing).

    • Pat
      February 25, 2016 at 17:36

      RPDC, please see my comment above in response to Abe. The “Bernie the Bomber” nickname was not “fairly earned,” but was a spiteful, one-sided attack on Sanders by a group of anti-war protesters in Vermont with an ax to grind.

      Whenever I see comments about “warmonger Bernie,” I try to set the record straight by presenting the “rest of the story,” which was conveniently left out of the earlier accounts. However, the old narrative has been cited so many times, in so many articles on sites frequented by the kinds of readers who comment on Consortium News, that it’s as good as written in stone. The same holds for “never met a defense budget he didn’t like,” and “100-percent pro-Israel Zionist.”

      Thanks for the additional info and links! This is the first I’ve heard of these new developments. I will go check it out.

    • Abe
      February 26, 2016 at 02:03

      “Bernie the Bomber” refers to Sanders’ support of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia and his enthusiasm for “humanitarian war”.

      Pat insists this was merely a “spiteful, one-sided attack” on Sanders by some disgruntled “lefties”.

      The facts indicate that there is a great deal more to the matter.

      Please read the comments and decide for yourself.

  8. John XYZ
    February 25, 2016 at 01:09

    Come to think of it, it does seem a bit extreme that a war criminal like Hillary is consistently portrayed as a strong, experienced candidate. How good is it, exactly, to be represented by a strong war criminal, or an experienced war criminal?

  9. Zachary Smith
    February 24, 2016 at 21:59

    It works, in part, because Sanders shies away from thorough discussions about his views on foreign policy while Clinton can tout her résumé as a globetrotter both as First Lady and Secretary of State.

    I believe Mr. Parry ought to consider the possibility that the reason Sanders doesn’t want any discussions about foreign policy with Clinton is because his views on FP don’t differ from hers enough to notice.

    A quick search turned up some bloggers who doubt Sanders is worth a plugged nickel on the foreign policy issue.

    Sanders makes quite a big deal about voting against the invasion of Iraq in 2002 and says he wants United States troops to leave that nation for good. But he never says that this intervention was wrong. He never said that the United States had no right to destroy that country or kill its people. He never said that these interventions are war crimes and violations of international law. Instead he speaks of the efficacy of particular interventions and how they impact Americans.

    Bernie Sanders’ Troubling History of Supporting US Military Violence Abroad


    Then there was this from his feelthebern site:

    Economic and Diplomatic Pressure: To temper Russian aggression, we must freeze Russian government assets all over the world, and encourage international corporations with huge investments in Russia to divest from that nation’s increasingly hostile political aims.

    With all due respect to Mr. Sanders, that is damned dumb!

    I’m supporting Sanders despite his horrible foreign policy positions. As i see it, the Palestinians are screwed if any of them (excepting – barely possibly – Trump) is elected.

    Hillary would be a disaster in virtually every way, and the hope that Sanders wouldn’t be a lying SOS like Obama is all I can manage for now.

    Under normal circumstances where the rest of the candidates weren’t obvious sock puppets of the billionaires, Israel, or both – I’d not give Sanders a second glance.

    As I see it, the man is gravely flawed, but remains the best of a very sad lot.

    • Abe
      February 24, 2016 at 23:43

      Vote for Sanders, the not-so-obvious sock puppet of Israel and the billionaires


      Vote for Trump, the billionaire who said “look, no, I’m very pro-Israel. In fact, I was the head of the Israeli Day Parade a number of years ago, I did a commercial for Netanyahu when he was getting elected, he asked me to do a commercial for him, I did a commercial for him. I am. But I don’t want to be– look, the hardest thing to do is that, in terms of deals, you’re a deal person, right? The ultimate deal is that deal. Israel, Palestine, if you’re going to make it, that probably is the hardest deal there is to make. People are born with hatred, they’re taught hatred. And I have to say, it’s mostly on the one side, not on the other side. But they’re taught hatred. I say this. If I’m going to be president, I’d rather be in the position, because I will try the best I can, and I’m a very good dealmaker, believe me, to try and solve that puzzle. You’re not going to solve it if you’re going to be on one side or another. Everyone understands that. If I’m going to solve the problem, I want to go in with a clean slate. Otherwise, you’re never going to get the cooperation of the other side. So that’s all I’m saying” — aka the really not-so-obvious sock puppet of Israel.

      God, I love American “democracy”. Nothing but the best and brightest for us Yanks.

      • dahoit
        February 25, 2016 at 11:04

        Yeah,a little duplicity there,but with the Ziomonsters in full throat denunciation of Trump and his voter base,American patriots,what do you expect?
        They own the medium which describes him,although that medium(MSM)is increasingly ignored by Americans,as they are starting to awaken from Ziocaine sleep.
        Trump,if he is an American patriot,will end this poisonous relationship of servant(US)and master.(Israel).
        If,not the can gets kicked down the road,and to Hitlers clone.

    • Joe Tedesky
      February 25, 2016 at 01:26

      This struggle we all have in regard to whom we should vote for is an all too old problem for sure. If I were able to live with it, I would do some promoting in your face type stuff to convince you who you should vote for, but I can’t even convince myself yet at this point who I should even vote for, so goes the day. Yes, God bless American democracy, that it all comes dwindling down to picking out the one who may not be such a bought off sock puppet. With all that in mine that leaves us with Trump or possibly Sanders to choose from. Which one of these two candidates would you feel may stand up against the Neocon/Christian Zionist the best? Better yet, who between them would even dare?

      • Abe
        February 25, 2016 at 03:34

        IMHO, neither Sanders nor Trump, not even if you ask them pretty please, will stand up to the Zionist power configuration that the Neocons and their Christian fascist allies have sworn allegiance to.

    • rosemerry
      February 25, 2016 at 17:43

      No chance for Jill Stein and the Greens? If only…..

  10. ltr
    February 24, 2016 at 21:26

    I am so sorry for the repeat complaints. The blog seemed not to be working so I tried again and sadly again. I was horrified by the destructive post about which I was complaining.

    • zxprof
      February 25, 2016 at 13:49

      Just curious, but what “comment” did you find so sickening, horrid, hideous, violent and impermissible? Surely not J’hon Doe’s statement on the capability of the deep state.

  11. Phil
    February 24, 2016 at 16:17

    I think it’s likely that the back room boys will assassinate both Sanders and Trump!

    • Brad Owen
      February 24, 2016 at 16:53

      That’s where I go too. But it might be too clumsy for now-a-days. The back room “Billionaire Club”(A.K.A. Synarchist Movement for Empire[SME]) might opt for another false-flag 9-11, with Martial Law being declared this time, with a “promise” to re-schedule elections in five years. Meanwhile The Purge will begin, and we’ll become a silent society, like the Soviets were; staring only at our chessboards (checkers for Americans) in the park, no comment offered by anyone on anything. Ironically, it could go the other way with genuine military believers in the true meaning of “The Society of the Cincinnati”(any “Smedley Butler”s in the Officer Corps??…when the founding principles of the Revolution are severely threatened beyond civic authorities to remedy, the military will directly step in to protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC) launching a counter-coup; and it’s the Right Wing SME cohorts that get purged. Either way, I think we’re way past mere voting for change, AND at the end-of-the-line for “business as usual”, or Mr. Parry would be one of Sanders’ speech writers, instead of a voice-in-the-wilderness, right?

    • J'hon Doe II
      February 24, 2016 at 16:58

      the deep state is certainly capable

    • ltr
      February 24, 2016 at 21:21

      A sickening, horrid impermissible comment. A hideous violent comment meant to destroy the blog.

    • ltr
      February 24, 2016 at 21:21

      A sickening, horrid impermissible comment. A hideous violent comment meant to destroy the blog.

    • ltr
      February 24, 2016 at 21:23

      A sickening, horrid, impermissible comment.

      A hideous violent comment meant to destroy the blog.

      February 25, 2016 at 14:05

      I think it’s likely that Super Tuesday will doom Bernie and that Trump will be “assassinated” by Murdoch’s media.

  12. Abe
    February 24, 2016 at 16:16

    Sanders needs to come out of the closet on foreign policy.

    We already know who Hillary and the Neocon frat boys of the GOP are pledged to defend and who they will bomb.

    Sanders needs to stop avoiding questions about the pressing matters of war and peace that will be faced by the 45th President of the United States.

    Does a President Sanders plan to implement the Kosovo Strategy in Syria?

    Will Syria “Feel the Berne” when a President Sanders, as Commander in Chief delivers his “assessment” and “sadly” supports “the NATO bombing of military targets” in Syria?

    Do “realists” drop fewer bombs than “neocons”?

    Are “realist” bombs any less destructive than “neocon” bombs?

    Or does just a spoonful of “realism” help the regime change medicine go down in a most delightful way?

    • Abe
      February 24, 2016 at 16:32

      And ev’ry task you undertake
      Becomes a piece of cake
      A lark! A spree!
      It’s very clear to see…

      I don’t buy the myth of Bernie the magical “realist” cleaner.

      • Abe
        February 24, 2016 at 18:09

        Sanders looks like he might be a “good bet” on domestic policy, but what about his foreign policy positions?

        What are Sanders’ positions on the conflict in Syria… or any other major foreign policy issue?

        For example, here are a few basic questions:

        “Senator Sanders, you supported the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War.

        “Do you still consider it correct to use military force without the approval of the UN Security Council?

        “Do you still consider your 1999 decision to support for the bombing correct given the record of human rights abuses by KLA forces in Kosovo?”


        “In 2013, there were calls for President Obama to order US bombing of the Syrian Arab Republic.

        “Given your record of support of the bombing of Serbia in 1999, under what circumstances would you support the bombing of Syria?”

        and how about:

        “The Saudis have announced their readiness to invade Syria. Is this the sort of action you meant when you suggested that Saudi Arabia needed to put ‘skin in the game’?

        “Would you support an invasion of Syrian territory by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, a NATO-member state?

        “If Turkish forces were under attack in Syria, would you honor the NATO principle of ‘collective defense’ and commit US forces to their aid?”

      • dahoit
        February 25, 2016 at 10:53

        Yeah,will he renounce his zionism?How can a dual citizen be POTUS anyway?
        If people can’t see the hatred for Trump by the Zionists,they need to be committed.

    • J'hon Doe II
      February 24, 2016 at 16:34

      February 24, 2016 at 4:16 pm
      Sanders needs to come out of the closet on foreign policy.

      I choose to disagree w/your assumption

      1. a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
      “they made certain assumptions about the market”
      synonyms: supposition, presumption, belief, expectation, conjecture, speculation, surmise, guess, premise, hypothesis; More

      2. the action of taking or beginning to take power or responsibility.
      “the assumption of an active role in regional settlements”
      synonyms: seizure, arrogation, appropriation, expropriation, commandeering, confiscation, hijacking, wresting

    • Joe Tedesky
      February 24, 2016 at 16:57

      Sanders, like most politicians doesn’t have a pristine record, but more often than not he has been on the correct side for the right reasons. He once pushed to have the FED audited. Although he had to compromise he did do more for the veterans than other congressional members have done. If Bernie were to rein in the financial sector this would be a start of ending America’s quest for global hegemony. Putting an end to Wall Streets Economic Hitmen would do wonders for the preservation of respecting sovereign governments. It may come down to deciding who among these presidential candidates is the less likely to use the military option. My hope would be that Sanders would become a JFK Democrate, as he is certainly proving to be an FDR Democrate with his already stated platform of reform. There is no perfect candidate (Jill Stein maybe) but who else, or what else is left to pick from? America’s last reality tv show maybe where the American public has been painted into a corner by the very people America wanted to outst out of their lives in the first place. There is no good ending to this show, and the reruns will be hard to watch once again, but unless there is somekind of reform we will be back at this once more. So, the question is, is Sanders our best bet?

    • Pat
      February 25, 2016 at 07:39

      Abe, one good video deserves another. Yes, he voted for that resolution, but there’s a lot more to the story.

      The “Bernie the Bomber” narrative is an ages-old hit job by some anti-war leftists in Vermont who were pissed off that once he got into politics, Sanders “sold out” — meaning that instead of listening only to them, he compromised, which is what you do when you represent diverse groups of people with conflicting interests.

      As the anti-war demonstrators tell it, they went to his Burlington office in April 1999 to protest the war in Kosovo, and instead of listening, he had them arrested for trespassing. What they neglect to tell you is that Sanders wasn’t there; he was on a plane back to D.C. So they said they’d wait. Four hours later, when he was still unavailable, they were sure (one of them wrote afterward) that he had “no intention” of talking to them, and they refused to leave until his staff got him on the phone. Staff gave them the option of an appointment the following Tuesday, the first day Sanders would be back from D.C. They refused, because if they didn’t talk to him immediately, “hundreds more would die in the interim!” It was getting time for the office to close, and staff warned them a couple of times that if they didn’t leave, they would be removed by the police. Half an hour past closing time, staff made good on their warning.

      They also neglect to tell you that Sanders was preparing to fly to Vienna that weekend with a congressional delegation to appeal to the Russians for help in ending the war. This was a huge step. The Russians hadn’t been consulted, and Sanders thought that was a big mistake. The delegation holed up in hotel room all weekend with representatives of the Russian Duma and a key adviser to Milosevic (who according to some reports was in a nearby room), and they came up with a plan they could all agree to — “all,” meaning the Russians, Milosevic, and both parties in Congress. They agreed to three key points, one of which was that the NATO bombing had to end immediately. The congressional delegation returned and immediately appealed to Congress to support the plan and sell it to President Clinton. Less than a month later, Milosevic accepted a peace agreement and the war ended.

      One of the protesters, in an article from that period that is often cited by leftie writers, does mention the Vienna trip, but with disdain, as though Sanders went off on a junket. Nor did that person appreciate that after an emergency weekend trip to Europe, during which no one got much sleep, Sanders kept his scheduled town hall meeting with constituents on Monday, before flying back to Washington to give a floor speech beseeching Congress to support the plan and push Clinton to accept it. Well, then they complained that he dominated the meeting and left no time for them to speak. He did take up a lot of time, because a lot had changed in a few days as a result of that trip, and he had a lot to report — and his constituents got to hear it before Congress did. According to an article in the Vermont paper Seven Days, everyone at the meeting who wanted to speak got to speak.

      Amazingly, there’s a video of Sanders speaking at the town hall meeting and also his speech on the House floor the following day. Additional remarks can be found in the Congressional Record for May 6, 1999.

      The thing that most struck me was what he said about finding a solution that didn’t humiliate Milosevic. Others (I think including Clinton, but not sure) wanted Milosevic punished, but Sanders “the realist” saw that it served no purpose, and antagonizing Milosevic would just prolong the war.

      So yes, he voted for that resolution, and then turned right around and actually DID something to stop the war. What did the protesters do? They got signatures for a petition, threw a tantrum because he wasn’t there at their beck and call to receive it, and when he returned a week later with some hopeful news, they yelled insults. Then they wrote spiteful articles about Bernie the Bomber and Bernie the warmonger, without ever acknowledging his role in breaking through to peace. I suspect you got your information from those articles or sources that cited them.

      • Joe Tedesky
        February 25, 2016 at 12:57

        Pat, I don’t know you, but your representation does a lot to add clarity to a thick fog which has engulfed Senator Sanders. Please keep in touch with your knowledge of such goings on. Hearing Bernie’s side of the story is only fair, then the rest is up to the listener.

        • Pat
          February 25, 2016 at 17:47

          Thanks, Joe. I try, but it’s an uphill battle. The old narrative has been repeated so many times that it is accepted as god-given truth.

          When Sanders first announced his campaign, a lot of these stories came out the woodwork, particularly on sites such as CounterPunch, whose editors have long had it in for Bernie. I was concerned, though, that they might be right, so I started doing my own digging, looking for primary sources such as the Congressional Record. My account of the sit-in in his Burlington office comes from original posts by three of the protesters. Their posts just after the event can still be found on old message boards.

        • Abe
          February 25, 2016 at 21:17

          A thick fog (of war) still hangs over the Sanders campaign.

          Yes, you can read Sanders’ sanitized script, “Bernie Sanders on NATO” on his campaign site

          In the section on the 1999 Kosovo crisis, you’ll read that Bernie “voted to take action to prevent further genocide”
          — but no mention of the actions of KLA terrorists, the controversy over “genocide” allegations against Serbia, or the fact that OSCE observers stated that there was no imminent “humanitarian crisis” in Kosovo until NATO began the bombing campaign that Sanders had supported.

          In the section on the 2011 Libya Intervention, you’ll read that Bernie “expressed wariness” and had “reservations about our involvement in Libya”, and “expressed concerns with Obama’s decision to circumvent the War Powers Act”
          — but no mention of the actions of Al-Qaeda terrorists, the controversy over “genocide” allegations against Gaddafi, or the fact that the real “humanitarian crisis” in Libya erupted when NATO began its bombing campaign.

          No, mention of these inconvenient truths does not mean that one “has it in for Bernie”.

          It just means that one must listen and think carefully whenever Sanders talks about a “humanitarian crisis”.

          If you really listen carefully to Sanders, you can hear the sound of “realist” bombs falling.

          • February 26, 2016 at 19:28

            Abe, the usual slant of “no imminent threat” is false and ignores the history of attempted ethnic cleansing of the Albanian-speaking Kosovars by the Serb central government during the 1980s – kicked out of any public jiobs, closing of schools and university, etc. and, finally, the shipping of Albanian-speaking kosovars by train out of Preshtina. The threat of genocide was not a threat it was constant pressure on the people. I was there right after the bombing ended and talked with a gazillon folks in the towns and country. BTW, I also saw the k-four troops protecting the serb communities from the blow-back because of the Serb central government policies. It was very sad to see troops escorting little old folks to church on Sundays, but I did not see crowds or folks heckling them.

            So let’s give Bernie the credit where credit is due. And give the public the real record of Hillary as the neo-con that she is.

          • Abe
            February 27, 2016 at 18:58

            Merschrod, the usual propagandist slant of “genocide” is false no matter how many times it is repeated.

            The actual history of Kosovo cannot be ignored:

            Ethnic tensions had existed in Yugoslavia throughout the 20th century, including conflict between the Serbian and Albanian communities in Kosovo.

            Each side accused the other of ethnic cleaning during the post-Tito 1980s.

            Both sides engaged in violent actions during the Kosovo War.

            “The threat of genocide was not a threat it was constant pressure on the people” — was a simply propagandist phrase repeated by BOTH the Albanian and Serbian sides of the conflict.

            NATO propaganda exploited the so-called “Račak massacre,” actually one of a series of heavy firefights between KLA and Yugoslav forces, with frezied accusations of “genocide”.

            After the government of Yugoslavia rejected the Rambouillet proposal for 30,000 NATO troops and immunity for NATO and its agents to Yugoslav law, NATO rapidly attacked.

            Even former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger declared that: “The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing. Rambouillet is not a document that an angelic Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form. [Daily Telegraph, 28 June 1999]

            NATO’s “humanitarian war” amid cries of “genocide” was all a sham.

            Bernie boasts about a Congressional delegation that was little more than a diplomatic sideshow.

            Bernie deserves zero credit for ending the war.

            Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo is the largest and the most expensive foreign military base built by the US in Europe, since the Vietnam War.

            Hillary’s real record as a “neo-con” warmonger, including her support for a war based on a pack of lies (Iraq 2003), is damning.

            Bernie’s real record as a “realist” warmonger, including his support for a war based on a pack of lies (Kosovo 1999), is also damning.

            Sure, go after Hillary’s warmongering and enabling.

            But stop making excuses for Bernie’s warmongering and enabling.

            Make it clear that the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee will be held accountable on issues of war and peace.

      • Abe
        February 25, 2016 at 20:29

        Progressive activists’ concerns about civilian death and destruction during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia were entirely valid.

        NATO, the U.S. and the European powers, violated the UN Charter by attacking a fellow UN member state in the absence of an attack or a threat of imminent attack on them and in the absence of UN Security Council authorization.

        The NATO bombing lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999. The air attacks against Belgrade by NATO were the first attacks on the city since World War II.

        The bombing killed between 489 and 528 civilians. Refugees were among the victims. Between 278 and 317 of the dead, between 56 and 60 percent of the total number of deaths, were in Kosovo. In Serbia, 201 civilians were killed (five in Vojvodina) and eight died in Montenegro. Almost two thirds (303 to 352) of the total registered civilian deaths occurred in twelve bombing incidents.

        The NATO assault involved up to 1,000 aircraft operating mainly from bases in Italy and aircraft carriers stationed in the Adriatic. Tomahawk cruise missiles were also extensively used, fired from aircraft, ships, and submarines. With the exception of Greece, all NATO members were involved to some degree.

        Over the ten weeks of the conflict, NATO aircraft flew over 38,000 combat missions. For the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), it was the second time it had participated in a conflict since World War II after the Bosnian War.

        In April 1999, during the NATO bombing, officials in Yugoslavia said the damage from the bombing campaign has cost around $100 billion up to that time.

        In 2000, a year after the bombing ended, Group 17 published a survey dealing with damage and economic restoration. The report concluded that direct damage from the bombing totalled $3.8 billion, not including Kosovo, of which only 5% had been repaired at that time.

        In 2006, a group of economists from the G17 Plus party estimated the total economic losses resulting from the bombing were about $29.6 billion, a figure that included indirect economic damage, loss of human capital, and loss of GDP.

      • Rob Roy
        February 25, 2016 at 23:13

        Thank you. Great comment. It’s an uphill battle to present proof about an event that people who’ve been programed by propaganda will ever listen to, let alone accept.

      • February 26, 2016 at 19:19

        Nice research Pat. This is the kind of info that the progressives need to support Bernie. Bernie really needs to be his best support by coming out as per the article,

        I’ve sent the article to [email protected] They do have a bank of responders. Let’s bombard them “Team Sanders” with the message that Perry suggests in the article.

    • Abe
      February 25, 2016 at 17:26

      Thank you for your response, Pat. Thanks especially for the video links to 1999 Sanders Town Hall meeting and floor remarks. They were very illuminating.

      As I pointed out in several comments on the Jonathan Marshall article, “Kosovo Chaos Undercuts Clinton ‘Success’” Sanders’ support for the “Kosovo Strategy” of NATO bombing in 1999 does not bode well for his foreign policy decision making.

      Sanders’ support for the NATO bombing of Serbia remains a significant issue.

      Efforts by the Sanders campaign to brush aside the 1999 NATO bombing matter as an insignificant squabble by a bunch of anti-war leftists is as transparent as it is disgusting.

      Sanders has demonstrated similar disregard for citizens’ concerns about his positions on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

      Sanders opened his May 3, 1999 Town Hall meeting on NATO’s Air War on Serbia with a telling remark:

      “I think where Mr. Fischer, Herr Fischer, is coming from is very close to where I am coming from.”

      Joschka Fischer served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany in the cabinet of Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005. Fischer was a leading figure in the West German Greens since the 1970s.

      Germany’s Social Democratic (SPD)-Green party coalition government employed fabrications and manipulated facts to overcome popular opposition to the participation of the German armed forces in NATO’s war against Yugoslavia.

      Fischer supported German military participation in the Kosovo War. Fischer’s position not only clashed with the largely pacifist philosophy of The Greens, but because it also supported the first combat deployment of German troops since the Second World War, 50-plus years after Hitler’s armies devastated the Balkans.

      Fischer justified this military involvement with allegations that Serbia was planning to commit genocide against the Kosovo Albanians. To convince the population of Germany that there was indeed a humanitarian catastrophe, and that the Serbs really were committing atrocities on a massive scale against the Kosovars, the German government utilized every conceivable propaganda ploy.

      Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were fighting against regular Yugoslav troops.

      Fischer repeatedly compared the Serbs to the Nazis, calling for military intervention with the words: “There must never be another Auschwitz!”

      Fischer and NATO leaders called for NATO bombing to avert an impending humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo.

      However, it was known by NATO member state governments that OSCE observers on the ground in Kosovo had confirmed that there was no impending humanitarian crisis.

      To state it simply: NATO lied.

      NATO’s deceptive “humanitarian war” over Kosovo generated a miliary intervention model known as the “Kosovo Strategy”.

      The NATO bombings of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did create a humanitarian crisis. NATO bombed economic and societal targets such as bridges, government facilities, and factories, using long-range cruise missiles. The NATO air forces also targeted infrastructure, such as power plants, water-processing plants and the state-owned broadcaster, causing much environmental and economic damage throughout Yugoslavia.

      NATO used the “Kosovo Strategy” to destroy Libya in 2011.

      Sanders does not deserve applause for helping to stop an unnecessary and enormously destructive NATO bombing campaign that he had helped to start.

      Sanders does deserve to be called to account for his direct participation in the “Kosovo Strategy” in 1999.

      • Pat
        February 25, 2016 at 21:03

        Efforts by the Sanders campaign to brush aside the 1999 NATO bombing matter as an insignificant squabble by a bunch of anti-war leftists is as transparent as it is disgusting.

        WTF? How do you make the leap from my comment to this bizarre assumption? Where in my comment did I say this information came from the Sanders campaign? Where in my comment is there even a suggestion that this is coming from the Sanders campaign? There is no “effort by the Sanders campaign.” These are MY CONCLUSIONS, based on MY OWN RESEARCH. I have not seen or heard anything like this anywhere – not in any news article or blog (other than my own comments), and certainly not from anyone in the Sanders campaign, officially or unofficially.

        If you think MY CONCLUSIONS are disgusting, you are entitled to your opinion. Far be it from me to deprive you of your precious disgust. Beyond that, I have nothing further to say, as I am not willing to waste time responding to made-up s— based on something I didn’t write.

        • Abe
          February 25, 2016 at 21:44

          My comment is based on my own research and conclusions, including analysis of the Sanders campaign website, videos, relevant journalism and interviews.

          Having said that, my response to your comment definitely was highlighting some made-up s—

  13. Joe Tedesky
    February 24, 2016 at 15:35

    Then there is the voter who if not able to cast a ballot for Bernie, will vote for Trump in the general election. This election season is all about unseating the establishment candidate. People are fed up, and while that should be a good thing, it could also end up with a bad result. Trump will throw down on Hillary, as he did the Bushes (Iraq was a lie, Bush failed during 911, etc.). Sanders voters will stay home on November 4th and the Donald will stroll on in to the Oval House …or will he install an escalator? His presidency will be the ultimate reality tv show, that’s for sure!

    • Joe L.
      February 24, 2016 at 16:01

      Well you can always vote for “Canada” – just kidding. Though I did find this video spoof quite amusing…

      For me, on the outside looking in, I can only see Bernie Sanders or maybe some third party candidates as real options but it is not my vote. Good Luck…

    • J'hon Doe II
      February 24, 2016 at 16:27

      Wow !
      I so agree w/you, Joe Tedesky.

    • ahf
      February 24, 2016 at 21:52

      No Bernie means no vote from me—–Clinton is Trump in drag.

    • Brad Benson
      February 25, 2016 at 11:26

      Better him than Hillary. Sanders first and Trump second.

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