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Don’t Call Him “Bernie” Anymore: the Sanders Sell-Out and the Clinton Wars to Come

The worst disservice Sanders has done to his supporters, other than to lead them on a wild goose chase for real change, is to virtually ignore his rival’s vaunted “experience.” He need not have mentioned Hillary Clinton’s Senate record, since there was nothing there; her stint as law-maker was merely intended to position her for a run for the presidency, according to the family plan. But there was a lot in her record as Secretary of State.

As she recounts in her memoir, she wanted a heftier “surge” in Afghanistan than Obama was prepared to order. Anyone paying attention knows that the entire military mission in that broken country has been a dismal failure producing blow-back on a mind-boggling scale, even as the Taliban has become stronger, and controls more territory, than at any time since its toppling in 2001-2002.

Hillary wanted to impose regime change on Syria in 2011, by stepping up assistance to armed groups whom (again) anyone paying attention knows are in cahoots with al-Nusra (which is to say, al-Qaeda). In an email dated Nov. 30, 2015, she states her reason: “The best way to help Israel…is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

In her memoir she criticizes Obama for not doing more to oust the secular Assad regime. She has repeatedly stated during her campaign that she favors a no-fly zone over Syria, like the one she advocated for Libya. That means conflict with Russia, which is bombing sites in Syria, with the permission of its internationally recognized government, under what Russia’s leaders (and many rational people) consider to be terrorists’ control.

Sanders–sorry, I cannot call him “Bernie” anymore, since he has become precisely as avuncular as Dick Cheney–could have effectively attacked Hillary the Skjaldmær (Old Norse for “Shield-maiden,” referring to an often berserk warrior-woman) for her role in the destruction of Libya. But no! Always referring to her deferentially as “Secretary Clinton”—as though her actions in that role merit respect—he rarely alluded to her greatest crime at all. That’s unforgivable.

(Yes, in one debate he mentioned Libya in passing—timidly, and with no follow-up. While he repeatedly mentioned how The Secretary had voted for the Iraq War and he hadn’t, he hardly exuded moral outrage about that or any other Clinton decision. His campaign was all about her Wall Street ties and well-paid, secret talks, the transcripts of which he once wanted to see but has now apparently lost interest. It was never about “foreign policy,” which is supposedly her forte. He may call himself a “socialist,” but he’s no anti-imperialist. He has voted in favor of every “defense spending” bill, supported the NATO assault on Serbia in 1999, supported Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014, etc.)

He could have attacked Clinton savagely—with the savagery of mere matter-of-fact honesty—by citing those emails exchanged between Clinton and her vicious confidant and former adviser Anne-Marie Slaughter, in which the latter—under the subject line “bravo!”—congratulates her on engineering Obama’s agreement for the bombing of Libya. (On March 19, 2011, as the bombing of Libya began, Slaughter wrote: “I cannot imagine how exhausted you must be after this week, but I have NEVER been prouder of having worked for you. Turning [Obama] around on this is a major win for everything we have worked for.”

He could have quoted that email from Sidney Blumenthal, that Svengali figure who has long been Clinton’s unofficial mentor (along with Henry Kissinger and others): “No-fly! Brava! You did it!” (Brava, if you’re interested, is the feminine form of Bravo.)

He could have repeatedly used that damning clip that reveals Hillary’s joy at the grotesque murder of Moammar Gadhafy—-who had become a friend of Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, and the CIA as of 2011—at the hands of Islamist thugs, who rammed a stick and knife up his anus on camera just to make it more humiliating. His ads could have started with some appropriately edited version of this. And ended with this. And left the people to draw their own conclusions.

He could have asked, “Why the hell did you appoint Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Eurasia, and support and fund that coup in Ukraine in 2014 in your goddamn ambition to expand NATO?”

But no. He didn’t have it in him. And now he wants his youthful erstwhile followers to transfer their support to someone who is not only the embodiment of Wall Street, with all its blood-sucking and all its crookedness, but the personification of U.S. imperialism in an era when its depth of crisis has produced a state of perpetual war.

Savvy people in Syria and elsewhere surely understand what the Sanders endorsement means: Syria is the next Libya.

Hillary in the Oval Office, Binyamin Netanyahu at her side, will laugh as Assad gets her knife up his ass, chaos deepens, the draft is re-instated, and boys and girls—of all ethnicities, gay and straight together—march off to fight the Brava Wars drastically reducing youth unemployment and making legions more eligible for the GI Bill.

Even if Sanders doesn’t vote for the war (and why should there be a vote, after all, in this post-constitution era?), he will share responsibility.

Shame! And shame on any once “Bernie” supporter who follows him into his moral morass.

* * *

Feel the burn. The burn of the rigged system. Why be drawn into it—the object of Hillary’s praise, for switching so readily from him to her (for the sake of “unity”)?

What is there to unite with, but more corruption, exploitation, and wars based on lies?

The votes that matter are the votes on the street. Either Trump or Clinton will provoke mass upheaval. The key contribution of the Sanders campaign has been to lay bare for idealistic youth the magnitude of the rot in the system itself, while raising (however dishonestly) the prospect of “political revolution.”

It’s the hope Sanders has sold out. But yes, that’s what we need. Social, economic, and political revolution. Too bad he’s chosen the other side.

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Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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