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No Bern Notice: the Imperial Myopia of Candidate Sanders


shutterstock_335859515 (1)Andrew Cline /

Does Bernie Sanders know what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did to Honduras? Does he care? Last week saw yet another savage murder of a Honduran activist for democracy — one of hundreds such atrocities since Clinton and Obama blessed a brutal oligarchical coup there in 2009. But Sanders said nothing — says nothing — about this damning legacy of his opponent. It’s an extraordinary omission by someone presenting himself as an alternative to the failed elitist policies of the past.

The only Sanders reference to Honduras that I’ve been able to find is some justified criticism of the draconian treatment of Honduran refugees by the Obama-Clinton team. But he never tied this back to why there has been a flood of Hondurans fleeing their country — most of them children, sent on a perilous journey by desperate parents hoping to save them from the hellish conditions wrought by the coup. Political repression and rampant gangsterism — including the abandonment of broad swathes of society to the ravages of poverty and gangs — have driven the nation to its knees. Last week’s murder of indigenous activist Berta Cáceres is but the latest bitter fruit of the Obama-Clinton betrayal of democracy.

Clinton — with a heart as hard as that most adamantine of all elements, neoconium — obviously doesn’t care. (Although at least she has refrained from looking on the latest murder and crying, “We came, we couped, she died!”) One assumes that Sanders, who over the years has opposed various American depredations in Latin America, might not be so sanguine. But as of this writing, a week has passed since Cáceres’s murder without comment from Sanders. However, his Senate colleague from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, did condemn the killing — and the wasteful, land-grab dam project that Cáceres opposed. Perhaps now that Leahy has provided some Establishment cover, Sanders could bestir himself for a word or two on the Cáceres case.

But the reticence to attack Clinton on the substance — and the essence and the goals — of American foreign policy is very much a hallmark of the Sanders campaign. For example,his only word about the American-backed campaign of slaughter, ruin and starvation being conducted by the Saudis against Yemen has been a lament that the Saudis are wasting good ammo in Yemen when they should be “getting their hands dirty” against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Yes, apparently the proper “democratic socialist” position is that the world needs more violent intervention by the greatest purveyors of Islamic extremism in the world. We need more killing — and more military expansion — by one of the most repressive regimes on the face of the planet. This is where the “progressive left” is at these days.

Again, this is an extraordinary position for someone who is calling for a “revolution” in American affairs. For although Sanders wants the Saudis to do more of the “dirty” work of killing people in the Middle East, there’s no suggestion on this part that the United States won’t continue to supply the weaponry and logistics and intelligence for the “Sanders Surrogate” wars he envisions, just as it is doing now in Yemen. This same resistance to any fundamental change in America’s militarist imperium runs through all of Sanders’ foreign policy stances. Which means that his plans for a “revolution” (really mild reform) in domestic affairs are doomed to failure, because the War Machine will continue to dictate policy — and budget priorities. Dennis Riches put it well in this quote from MintPress News:

“Although Sanders claims to seek a more democratic government and hopes to remove the influence of money from politics, Riches said he avoids talking much about this complex topic because doing so would involve admitting how much the U.S. national economy depends on a massive military and endless foreign wars.

“’Doing the right thing would require a complete abdication of America’s self-assigned role as master of the global order, and this would also entail a re-imagining of the domestic economy.’”

There will be no “revolution” — there will not even be any genuine reform, beyond mild tinkering at the margins — without such an abdication and re-imagining. But this is not on offer from any of those now vying to be the temporary manager of the corrupt and violent American imperium, including Sanders.

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Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at

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