Why Does Bernie Sanders Back Saudi Interventions in the ME?

by William Skink

Bernie Sanders backs Saudi intervention in the Middle East. This is what he said to Wolf Blitzer:

“What we need now, and this is not easy stuff, I think the President is trying, you need to bring together an international coalition, Wolf, led by the Muslim countries themselves! Saudi Arabia is the third largest military budget in the world they’re going to have to get their hands dirty in this fight. We should be supporting, but at the end of the day this is fight over what Islam is about, the soul of Islam, we should support those countries taking on ISIS.”

Is Bernie Sanders showing his fealty to Israel? How else to explain this stupid, dangerous perspective? He can’t actually believe entrusting the soul of Islam to Saudi Arabia is a good thing, can he? I mean, does Sanders know the Saudis like beheading people for witchcraft and sorcery?

Here is more from the link:

Some have argued that Sanders’ candidacy is very valuable — that win or lose, he’s putting the issue of income inequality front and center. But if the candidacy is to be lauded for raising issues of economic inequality, educate the public and galvanize around that that, it’s fair to ask how the candidacy is also deforming public discussion on other crucial issues. If the position of the most prominent “progressive” on the national stage is for more Saudi intervention, what does that do to public understanding of the Mideast and dialogue between people in the U.S. and in Muslim countries?

If the U.S. further subcontracts the Mideast to the Saudi regime, the setbacks and disappointments for peace and justice in the Mideast during the Obama years will be small potatoes in comparison. If the Mideast continues to deform, largely because of U.S. policies backing Saudi Arabia, as well as Israel, all the other things Sanders is talking about regarding economic inequality are arguably out the window. He himself has noted that “wars drain investment at home.”

Yeah, wars drain investment at home. How can anyone take the Sanders campaign seriously when his foreign policy positions are so stupid and dangerous?

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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44 Responses to Why Does Bernie Sanders Back Saudi Interventions in the ME?

  1. petetalbot says:

    And your solution would be?

    • Big Swede says:

      There is no solution Pete.

      • petetalbot says:

        I didn’t mean for it to be a flippant question. Really, who brokers peace? Iran, Turkey, Egypt? Whose hands aren’t dirty?

        • steve kelly says:

          The Great Game. Nobody has won ….yet!

          Fromkin, David, (1989) “A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East 1914-1922.”

          Hopkirk, Peter (1992), “The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia”

          Essential reading to understand the ME today. Or, you can Google “The Great Game” and get the overall picture. I recommend both books.

      • The U.S. chooses that there should be wars in the Middle East, arming one or the other side, often (as with the Iran/Iraq war) both, and with purpose. By abetting constant fighting, the U.S. Keeps the region from uniting. A fear of United Arab countries has been the driving force in U.S. Policy since the time of Abdul Nasser. (A second goal has been to destroy secular governments, as the U.S. prefers monolithic fundamentalist states, like Saudi Arabia. Such monolithic power lends itself to easier control by imperialist power. All you gotta do is feed the corruption.)

        You gotta ask the right question, Pete: Who brokers peace? No one. Peace happens when the U.S. Stops fostering wars.

    • The first step in solving a problem is defining it. If you have mice in your basement, you find out how they get in. If two-party politics continually offers the same choice in home and away uniforms, voting solves nothing. The problem is money, but because both parties feed on that money, they cannot and will not solve it.

      Candidates backed by big money are already corrupt. Candidates without money cannot win, as TV is the only way to reach voters.

      What’s your solution, Pete? Find a person who takes large bribes who is also honest? That’ll work.

      • petetalbot says:

        Yeah, that’s my solution, PM, “find a person who takes large bribes … ” And what the hell does “two-party politics” have to do with my question? Talk about your straw man argument. So your turn, PM, you define the problem and then give me your solution.

        • See above. My two-party answer referred to Bernie supposedly being an alternative but not reaally. It was off the mark.

          But I like the mice-in-basement example, as you two-party people continually offer us better mice as the answer.

        • JC says:

          Mice in the basement? Get a cat…

        • petetalbot says:

          So, when the name change, Tokarski?

          Anyway, I agree that our muddling in the Middle East has added to the chaos and misery. As an analogy, though, may I borrow from one of your posts? You said this about lifting African Americans out of their condition: “We cannot do it for them. They must, on their own, rebuild their dignity.”

          So I wonder, if there was a completely hands-off policy from outside powers, would Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds, etc., stop killing each other?

        • Yes, I did a name change and made it public to hide from search engines.

        • “So I wonder, if there was a completely hands-off policy from outside powers, would Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds, etc., stop killing each other?”

          I think you are inferring that they are not rational people, like us.

        • JC says:

          Thierry Meyssan has an interesting article, Pete, where he outlines the end of the artificial Sunni/Shia divide, a divide that was imposed to further U.S. and Saudi goals. The complexity of ME relations cannot be boiled down to a simple Sunni-Shia-Kurd bloodletting. But it is advantageous to the powers-that-be to do so.

  2. Pete, the place to start would be telling the truth about the region, but I guess that wouldn’t be good for the F35 business in Vermont.

  3. JC says:

    Maybe we should just let the Ottoman empire reconstitute itself. At least then we know what’s going on. The demolition of Sykes-Picot, after all, is ISIS’s goal, among others.

    I have to chuckle at the term “who brokers peace?” As if peace is just another commodity on the stock market. I realize that it is commonly used in this way.

    But really, after centuries of the Ottomans, and the intrusion of WW I into the equation, Israel’s land grab, and the current desire to partition the ME into nice little resource packages, how is peace possible? And who really believes that the U.S. is capable of doing any justice in the region? I sure don’t.

  4. Turner says:

    The CounterPunch article says that Sanders’ “candidacy is . . . deforming public discussion on other crucial issues.” Does this mean that public discussion prior to Sanders’ announcing was in good shape, not deformed? This is incredible nonsense. CounterPunch (your main source of political wisdom) has an agenda, which seems to be to characterize all progressives as fraudulent to get them out of the way of right-wingers.

    My most generous suspicion is that CounterPunch and its fans really want to bring about an all all-out fascist America so that a reaction to it might bring about a more just society. But I think that’s probably too generous. I suspect their goal is simply fascism in all its glory. If only we had a strong man, a Putinesque leader to solve all our problems, right?

  5. steve kelly says:

    Bernie is a U.S. senator. All 100 U.S. senators are vetted, funded and installed with an understanding that none represent a threat to (“the system”) TPTB. Bernie votes the way he is supposed to vote. What he says really doesn’t matter, now does it?

    • Turner says:

      Did you come up with this all by yourself? Can you refer me to the CounterPunch article that it depends on?

      • JC says:

        Um, Turner, Steve has run for statewide office at least three times, and has a Counterpunch article to prove it! He understands from personal experience…

        • petetalbot says:

          It was one of those late October cold snaps, miserably cold and windy. It was 2002 and I went to Missoula’s Orchard Homes Country Club to meet candidate Steve Kelly. Country Club is a misnomer; it’s really an ancient meeting hall behind a little mom-and-pop grocery.

          There were three of us there, plus the candidate. We had a good conversation. I think I even wrote Steve a small check. I say kudos to anyone who runs for statewide office, especially an idealistic candidate. But here’s the reality, from the lede of the counterpunch story:

          “Steve Kelly, the Montana artist and environmentalist, is running for congress again. This time as a Democrat. ‘People talk about fusion politics, well, I’m it,’ says Kelly, who has run before both as a green and a Republican.”

          “This time as a Democrat” says it all. I’m not saying it’s right but you run as a Republican, then as a Green against a popular incumbent Democratic Congressman (potentially throwing the election to the Republican) and the Democratic Party is not going to jump through hoops for you.

          Which brings me to this: Sanders runs as an Independent in Vermont, the media describes him as a Socialist/Democrat. If anyone out there fits the M.O. of Steve Kelly, it’s Sanders. I mean, really, what the fuck do you guys want? As for Sanders’ statement on Saudi Arabia and ISIS, I don’t see any comments above that offer a better solution.

        • steve kelly says:

          “I mean, really, what the fuck do you guys want?”

          1) Free, fair, open elections for anyone willing to run for public office with the good intention of serving the public interest.
          2) Ballot access for anyone…. (same as above).
          3) For Montana to become a state someday. This colonial, protectorate/vassal-state arrangement is getting us nowhere.

          No link to CounterPunch, sorry boys.

        • petetalbot says:

          On this we agree, Steve Kelly, being a third (or fourth or fifth) party candidate offers insurmountable odds.

        • JC says:

          Pete, Steve was talking about fusion elections in the CP article. As the Missoula New Party, of which you were a local participant, was engaged in pushing fusion, how can you say third party politics “offers insurmountable odds”? The New Party won lots of local elections until the Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party Supreme Court decision negating the civil rights of third party candidates took the winds out of the New Party’s (and many other third party campaigns’) sails.

          I think that many, many people in this country believe that the system of 2 party politics has failed to produce a society that is built on liberty, justice and opportunity. I’d like to think that political wonks that believed in third party campaigns and fusion wouldn’t just retreat to the comfort of the two party system, instead would fight to legalize fusion in as many states as possible. After all, fusion isn’t unconstitutional, it’s just that the SCOTUS determined that it wasn’t a matter of civil rights to have fusion elections.

        • petetalbot says:

          The barriers to a viable third party are enormous in a plurality system (see Duverger’s law). Looking back at third parties, there hasn’t been much traction since Millionaire Ross Perot’s Reform Party in 1996. So, until things change, like maybe a more sympathetic Supreme Court, I don’t see many options except tugging the Democratic Party to the left.

          You say, “I’d like to think that (folks like Pete) wouldn’t just retreat to the comfort of the two party system … ” I’m not sure how comfortable it is, JC., but it’s where I’m at.

        • JC says:

          Pete, fusion isn’t unconstitutional. It just needs to be legalized on a state-by-state basis. It currently is legal in 8 states. Why don’t proponents of fusion elections work to legalize it in Montana?

        • Rob Kailey says:

          To Steve Kelly’s comment at 1:08:
          1) Should be “Free, fair, open elections for anyone willing to run for public office” full stop. It can’t be a “free, fair” and open election if there is a test or qualifier of a candidate’s motives. It’s a flaw in the axiom of voted representation. At least i consider it a flaw, though a necessary one. Some consider it a feature. It is one of the very very few solid points that strict Constitutionalists like Rob Natelson make, that you can’t have a free and fair election allowing only candidates favored based on a particular view. Both you and he made that argument very well and vociferously after your respective losses to party puppets. (There is something of a difference when you were a Democrat because you lost to an incumbent opposition candidate, and then blamed the very party which supported your view. As a guy who liked your message and voted for you, I have not been subtle in pointing out that wasn’t two-party politics that hurt you. It was you.)

          I digress. It is simply evident that if elections are to be free and open and fair, then they have to include those candidates who have motive to profit in money or power and their supporters who have a will to game the system. The urge to free, open and fair is what has given us Citizens United. I shake my head at those who think that corporations and the rich purchasing elections is somehow unfair. No it’s not. It’s playing by the very rules of the governance that we elected. It’s also one of the biggest reasons that fusion elections don’t work. Pete was right to bring up the example of Idaho, which like Montana has done nothing but sprint rightward. On this, Steve, you and I might actually someday agree. My deep respect for Bob Kelleher was based on the view that our foundation of winner take all elections is flawed. We need a parliamentary system, badly. Until then, calling for free open fair elections is simply calling for your favorites to win once in a while in a rigged game.

          2) I could not agree more, and in the technological age there should be no restrictions on that access. There are those who claim that voting doesn’t matter, and they have a point, somewhat. But I remain curious, if voting doesn’t matter, why is so much energy and money spent trying desperately to get people blocked from voting or convincing them not to vote at all? Hmmm. What I would say here is this, voter engagement is far more important a concern than voter access. I will go to my grave (or urn or viking pyre would be my preference) and remember the ridiculous and consistently stupid attacks against Matt Singer and the efforts of Forward Montana. ‘Two party stooge’. ‘Weasel’. ‘Ignorant’. ‘Democrat foot soldier’. These are some of the allegations I will never forget about a guy and organization solely devoted to getting people to vote, some leveled by the very folk who haunt these parts. I point out quite directly that no one is stopping people from voting for progressive favored causes in even a quarter the percentage that people don’t care to vote. Screw voter ‘access’. Give people something to vote for, a will to do it, and get them to the polls. That’s what wins election, not party politics.

          3) Easily solved if we pay attention to one and two.

        • steve kelly says:


          I was asked and replied.

          What I want, however, is not necessarily related to any rule or legal requirement for elected public service. I do not speak for any category, and no category speaks for me. Many of the things I think are not anything I would impose on others, it’s just what I think when I think it.

          You have a tendency to expand, extend opinions offered as institutional proposals. I am perfectly happy to enjoy different opinions with no regard to whether or not it would , or should, ever be imposed on the greater population as public policy. Sometimes I do speak in that greater policy context, and obviously need to be more clear about the two to satisfy whatever odd interest you have in my thoughts.

          Aside from that, of course I am the only one ultimately responsible for my candidacy and campaign. What you call “blame” is disappointment not directed at any party or the two-party system. But there are people with power who dominate institutional policy and practice who use power in many destructive ways. This hurts everybody as much or more than it hurts me. I fight against this abuse of power with pleasure. If it isn’t always pretty, so be it. You want perfect? Good luck with that.

        • Rob Kailey says:

          The part you continually miss, “Kelly”, is that like you I don’t want perfect. I want honest, and frequently don’t find that among progressives any more than their conservative opponents. Part of that honesty is that you *did* blame the Montana Democrats and Democratic voters.

        • steve kelly says:

          So you want retribution for what Mr. self-appointed administer of pay-back and suffering? Punitive “justice” usually only gets another round of pay-back, and another back the other way. If that’s what you want we can fight all day and all night. There are other options, of course.

        • Rob Kailey says:

          Yes, and one of those options is that you quit engaging and promoting the idea that people are sheep, easily lead to slaughter. Quit ascribing motive to others based on your inclinations. I don’t call for retribution, though you casually comfort yourself with the fantasy that I do. You ran, 3 times, to represent real people with real lives and real concerns, and you don’t care a lick about them. I’m not the one concerned with retribution. I can easily punish myself for voting for you.

          The honesty question still remains. Can you let me make my own decisions, good or ill? Or are you so attuned to your desires that you can’t make an argument without ascribing beliefs to me that I clearly don’t hold? In a representative democracy, were you an honest politician hoping to represent the best of your constituency? Or did you want to impose your will of what is ‘right’? I don’t ever have to answer those questions to your satisfaction, nor will I likely ever try. I owe you nothing and never did. But you did owe me honesty. Did you really give me that? Or am I to blame for you not doing ‘the good works’?

          I think Pete’s question was spot on, especially as regards you. What the fuck do you guys want? When you ran for office did you want to run things to your satisfaction, or run things as your voters would wish? Inquiring minds want to know. No fight required.

      • can you stop being a dick? I’m sorry Sanders said something stupid about an important subject and someone wrote about it at a website you disapprove of, but thems the breaks. if only anti-war protesters had the spunk of BLM, maybe they could put some pressure on Sanders stupid position. do we even have anti-war protesters anymore or have progressives conceded that ground to the military-industrial-congressional complex for good?

        • petetalbot says:

          “do we even have anti-war protesters anymore or have progressives conceded that ground to the military-industrial-congressional complex for good?” says Skink. Wow. I don’t know where to start, do you? Should we meet at Daines’, Zinke’s or Tester’s office with our protest signs? We could re-instate the draft. That might get a few more people out in the streets. Tell me – I’m a progressive as are many of my friends at the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center – what should we do? After you’ve answered my first question about obtaining peace in the Middle East, you can tell us progressives how to go about dismantling the military-industrial complex.

        • I told you where to start. do I need to keep repeating myself? tell the truth about what is happening in the region. how about start with Yemen. maybe the Peace Center can write an op-ed about the growing humanitarian crisis that Saudi Arabia, with US support, is creating. or maybe the Peace Center can help explain to people in this country that we are creating terrorists with every drone strike and every regime change. every time a drone kills innocent people in foreign lands, we are creating carnage that people correctly blame America for.

        • JC says:

          Oh, come on Pete. What has the JRPC done lately to work against the illegal wars our country is involved in? They’ve become irrelevant in the anti-war discussion. If you have to challenge any of us about solutions, first give us the JRPC line on how to produce peace in the ME, or to dismantle the MIC. I don’t see any changes in the world-wide killing scenario, nor do I see any serious attempts in Missoula to advance anti-war stances.

          At least in the 70’s we could see tangible movements devoted to peace — locally, state-wide, and nationally. When I was young, we had the Easter Sunday protests at Malmstrom, the Silence One Silo Brigades, Hands Across the Border, the battle to keep a peace sign on the North Hills (now relegated to a minor position). Peace marches in the cities, encampments in front of the White House, rallies with hundreds of thousands of people, enlightened and charismatic leaders, visions of a planet not at war.

          But it has all been co-opted and scuttled. Third party political movements are scorned. Activist movements are infiltrated and delegitimized. Leaders are shot or imprisoned. The press is bought and doesn’t report like it did during Viet Nam. The populace is constrained by economic malaise, and struggling to survive, much less protest.

        • petetalbot says:

          I’m sure that many of the obstacles to third parties that you mention are accurate but as I said earlier, scrapping the draft was what really ended the antiwar movement, don’t you think? The sons and daughters of the rich and powerful aren’t making up the ranks of the military.

          By the way, I didn’t realize that there were eight states that could practice fusion but I believe they’ve had that right since the late nineteen hundreds. No states have added fusion balloting since then. It was interesting to see Idaho as one of the eight states. I doubt there’s been much fusion action there, though.

        • JC says:

          As one who had a draft card, and could have been drafted, I didn’t end my anti-war stances or protests when the draft ended — or Vietnam war ended. Much of the 70’s and into the 80’s the anti-war movement morphed into an anti-nuke movement. But as with the draft during Vietnam, where the wealthy and connected could always dodge the draft (like Pres. Bush did), if the draft were to be reinstated, I’m sure the same situation would arise.

      • steve kelly says:

        All mine. Sorry no link for you. Always happy to reconsider my position, however, if you have a substantive difference of opinion. Substance, Turner. Substance still matters.

  6. The short answer is that he supports a Saudi intervention for the same reasons that Bill Maher does. Namely, they should clean up their own problems.

  7. steve kelly says:


    I’ve received some recent new interest in reestablishing a Missoula Green Party, and working to get Jill Stein on the November, 2016 ballot. I will help where I can. Anyone interested please get in touch. The time is always right for alternative political action(s) and merrymaking. troutcheeks@gmail.com

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  9. In our two-party system the role of Democrats is to act as a broom sweeping up discontent. They gather up the protest movements and keep them under control. Democratic candidates are allowed off the leash at election time to say progressive stuff, but when the election is over the public tunes out and they join the Republicans in thief in the back rooms in unceasing work for their donors.

    There is no democracy in this system. Sadly, third party movements do nothing more than stealth work for the two parties. Perot deliberately played cat and mouse to keep his support low enough to elect Clinton. Nader served Bush’s needs, and the Tester people cynically manipulated the Libertarians to get their boy in after he lost his progressive voters in his first term as a right winger.

    Sorry folks, but our elections are distractions, nothing more. They do not affect public policy. They burn energy, prevent rebellion and meaningful change.

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