Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Bernie Sanders: The Ron Paul of the Left? Not quite

This article is nearly a year old but it gives a pretty good overview of Bernie Sanders’ actual record on antiwar issues. His views appear to those closer to those of a liberal internationalist, humanitarian interventionist or even a “left-neocon” than a genuine anti-imperialist. Not surprising for a former Trotskyist.

By Justin Raimondo


he entry of Bernie Sanders into the presidential sweepstakes is of interest to opponents of American militarism for two reasons: 1) He has a reputation as an “antiwar” figure, and 2) His primary opponent for the Democratic party nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is arguably the most hawkish Democratic White House aspirant since the days of Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. As an opponent of Gulf War I and Bush’s invasion of Iraq, many progressives – and his enemies on the right – assume Bernie’s anti-interventionist credentials are in such impeccable order that it’s fair to call him “the Ron Paul of the left.” Now that he’s officially announced his campaign, it’s time to disabuse everyone of this notion.

Sanders started out fairly radical: in 1980, after leaving the idiosyncratic Liberty Union Party of Vermont, he was supporting Andrew Pulley, the presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party, a hardcore Leninist-Trotskyist grouplet, even while he had the choice of Barry Commoner, the softcore socialist candidate of the middle-class liberal Citizens Party. And we aren’t just talking about verbal support: Sanders served as a presidential elector for the Socialist Workers ticket in Vermont that year.

One can still detect undertones of his affinity for the founder of the Red Army in his more recent ululations, such as his recent imprecations hurled at the multiplicity of consumer choices available in the capitalist economy: “You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country,” he snarled at his campaign debut.


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