I like Elizabeth Warren’s policies on the economy and reining in the financial institutions. But when it comes to foreign policy, she turns out to be your run-of-the-mill pro-war Democrat. She voted along with other Democrats in Congress in support of a resolution backing Israel when it was assaulting Gaza but otherwise has avoided making any comment on the issue, running away when asked about it.
But when at a local town hall meeting she was confronted directly about it, she showed herself to be just another war hawk on foreign policy. Glenn Greenwald examines her record and says that she sounds just like Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
During her time in the national spotlight, Warren has focused overwhelmingly on domestic issues, rarely venturing into foreign policy discussions. Many of those domestic views, particularly her strident-for-D.C. opposition to banks, have been admirable, elevating her to hero status for many progressives.
But when Warren has spoken on national security, she has invariably spouted warmed-over, banal Democratic hawk tripe of the kind that she just recited about Israel and Gaza. During her Senate campaign, for instance, she issued wildly militaristic – and in some cases clearly false – statements about Iran and its nuclear program that would have been comfortable on the pages of The Weekly Standard.
Even as conservative Democratic Senate candidates from red states such as Nebraska’s Bob Kerrey were vehemently condemning the threat of war against Iran during their campaigns, Warren was claiming (contrary to the U.S. Government’s own assessment) that “Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons”, adding: “I support strong sanctions against Iran and believe that the United States must also continue to take a leadership role in pushing other countries to implement strong sanctions as well.” Those claims about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons remained her position even after she was told that they squarely contradict the U.S. intelligence community’s clear assessment of Iran’s actions.
Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont is another progressive who gets angry when questioned about his pro-Israel stances.
PEPs (Progressives Except for Palestine) like Warren and Sanders have to be publicly confronted like this in order to cause them to rethink their positions. It does not help when progressives give these people a free pass because they like their views on other issues and do not want to criticize them. They have to be challenged and challenged vigorously because it is only under pressure that they will modify their positions.
Politicians have to feel the hot breath of angry constituents, even their own supporters. Conservatives figured this out a long time ago and do not hesitate to make their views known if they disagree with their candidates’ stance on some issue. Some elected representatives undoubtedly vote according to the way that various lobbies want them to not because they agree with those views but because they feel great pressure to do so.
It is the liberals and progressives who pick a person to support and then steadfastly shut their eyes to their favored ones’ wrong positions. We progressives should stop seeking the ideal politician who genuinely agrees with us on all the major issues. That candidate may never come. We also should stop pretending that the flawed candidates that happen to be the best of a bad lot are somehow perfect and gloss over their faults. President Obama is undoubtedly better than Mitt Romney or John McCain would have been on many issues. But that does not mean that we should defend him on his awful record on human rights and transparency and his protecting of Wall Street and other oligarchs.
We have to deal with the candidates we have and not the candidates we wish we had, and put as much pressure as we can on them on the issues that we care about.