Monday, November 30, 2015

Bernie Sanders’ Refreshingly Sane Foreign Policy

By Sean Illing,
Salon via Alternet

In his speech last week, Sanders said what every presidential candidate ought to say about ISIS and the Middle East.

Bernie Sanders’ economic populism and domestic agenda receive a lot of attention, and they should – he’s a unique and important voice on these fronts. But Bernie’s refreshing sanity on foreign policy gets overlooked far too often. This is especially problematic given the most recent Paris attacks and the renewed emphasis on national security.

Sanders gave a major speech last week at Georgetown University, the central theme of which was democratic socialism. Understandably, much of the coverage focused on Sanders’s efforts to situate his brand of socialism in the broader American tradition. However, Sanders also used his speech to talk about our foreign policy dilemma in the Middle East.

His remarks were what we’ve come to expect from Sanders: honest. Because he doesn’t spin the way other politicians do, Sanders brings a kind of clarity to this conversation, a clarity that’s desperately needed in our current climate. Conservatives will likely dismiss Sanders as a dovish liberal who doesn’t understand foreign policy, but that’s because they don’t want to hear what he has to say.

In the speech, Sanders makes clear that he understands both the crisis and the complicated political realities on the ground. “The United States must pursue policies to destroy the brutal and barbaric ISIS regime,” Sanders said, and we must “create conditions that prevent fanatical extremist ideologies from flourishing. But we cannot – and should not – do it alone.” [Emphasis mine].

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thomas Merton Center honors Congresswoman Barbara Lee

20151109JHLocalAward02-1 Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif.: "It's only through peace and justice will we achieve the American dream for everybody."

John Heller/Post-Gazette

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif.: "It's only through peace and justice will we achieve the American dream for everybody."


By Peter Smith

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. received scorching criticism in 2001 as the only U.S. legislator to vote against the resolution authorizing military force after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

At the time, she warned of the unintended consequences of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which empowered force against nations, organizations or individuals that carried out the 9/11 attacks or helped those who did, “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States” by such groups.

Fourteen years later, the legislation remains in effect and has been used by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to justify military actions not only in Afghanistan and against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda but against other militants as far afield as Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia.

For speaking out early against the far-reaching consequences of the act, and for other actions promoting peace, Rep. Lee received the 2015 Thomas Merton Award for peace and justice work on Monday from the Thomas Merton Center.

She is the 43rd annual recipient of the award. Past recipients have included environmentalist Bill McKibben, activist Noam Chomsky and journalist Jeremy Scahill. The center held its annual dinner Monday night at the Sheraton Station Square. The center and the award are named for the late Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk and author of dozens of books on peace, the environment and relations between races and religions.

Ms. Lee “is a prophet ... that speaks the truth about what has to be done no matter what the consequences,” Bonnie DiCarlo, past president of the center, said at an afternoon news conference.

Ms. Lee said she and more than 150 other members of Congress have now been pushing for a repeal of the 2001 act as well as the 2002 act authorizing force in Iraq, which the Obama administration has used to authorize military strikes against the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. She said the Syria action, for example, should get a specific authorization from Congress today.