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Bernie's Revolution Leaves Gaping Hole

By       Message Steve Weissman       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   15 comments

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Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden. US Special Forces, various Kurdish and Shia forces, airstrikes, and strained cooperation with the Russians appear to be pushing back the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. But, even with all this "success" in dismantling the Caliphate, many national security experts have given up on defeating ISIS. They seem to agree, "Nothing Trump or Clinton will do in Iraq and Syria will curtail terrorist attacks."

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What Clinton or Trump would do, what Obama has done, and what Dick Cheney and George W. Bush have done, is exactly what al-Qaeda and Islamic State want the US to do. They want us to wage war on Muslims, enabling the jihadis to present themselves as defenders of the faith against Western Crusaders. Innocent civilians from Fallujah to Paris, Brussels, and Orlando have paid the price.

"We are more vulnerable now," said Khzir Khan, the father of a fallen soldier, who spoke at the Democratic Convention and whom Donald Trump made the mistake of attacking. "We have created a chaos."

Why, then, do US troops continue to fight in Iraq and Syria? What, if anything, should they be doing there?

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Bernie Sanders never convincingly answered these questions during the primaries, and his speech on Wednesday night launching Our Revolution completely ignored the issue. I can't even find Iraq and Syria mentioned on the group's website or list of issues.

Bernie's revolution is half-empty -- and only half-full.

I fully understand that Bernie has chosen to stress his domestic agenda because Americans suffer directly from economic inequality, racial injustice, and corporate power. Hearing him speak, I believed more strongly than ever that, working together, we can truly build a decent society. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes. My poor, overworked mouse sent another $27.

I was especially thrilled to see Bernie take on President Obama as "dead wrong" in wanting to pass the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through a lame-duck Congress after the November elections.

"What the TPP is about, and what previous trade agreements were about, are forcing American workers to compete against people who make pennies an hour," Bernie explained.

"It is about corporations that go from country to country in search of the cheapest possible labor they can find. Our disastrous trade policies have cost us millions of good-paying jobs, and it is part of the race to the bottom. Instead of uplifting people all over the world, people are becoming poorer."

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Better than almost anyone I've read, and far more clearly than I, Bernie exposed the danger of the TPP's Investor-State Dispute System. "Unbelievably," he said, the dispute provision allows major multi-national corporations to "go to an international tribunal made up of three corporate lawyers if they believe that their future profits were harmed as a result of a governmental decision."

"It is so crazy it is hard to imagine," he said. "President Obama killed the Keystone Pipeline ... because he understood that excavating and transporting some of the dirtiest fuel in the world would accelerate the crisis of climate change." But, as a result of the "Investor-State Dispute System" in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trans-Canada, the owner of the Keystone Pipeline, "is suing the taxpayers of the United States for fifteen billion dollars because they believe that decision impacted their future profits."

"The idea that a major multi-national corporation can sue us for fifteen billion dollars because the president made the decision that he thought right tells you what trade agreements are all about. They are designed to protect corporate profits and to hell with the environment, human rights, health care, or the needs of the people. And that is why the TPP has got to be defeated."

Bernie's second example showed the insanity of the dispute system even more dramatically. In Uruguay, the government put together a very strong anti-tobacco campaign, requiring cigarette packages to display "really ugly stuff about diseased lungs or diseased lips, making it very clear that if anybody wanted to buy that package of cigarettes they were endangering their health bigtime." The campaign succeeded in cutting back smoking.

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A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a (more...)
 

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