Democratic war hawks


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.

Comments

  1. astrosmash says

    —sigh—. I always thought of myself as being able to read people really well. The pro-war side of Warren just seems to make NO sense given her demeanor and take on financial inequality…

  2. astrosmash says

    “Politicians have to feel the hot breath of angry constituents, even their own supporters”

    I’d say ESPECIALLY their own supporters. The right and left’s opinion of each other is meaningless at this point…

  3. hyphenman says

    Good morning Mano,

    I really, really wanted to like and get behind Warren.

    If her stance had only been in support of Israel’s relationship to Gaza and the rockets launched by Hamas, I could have understood. I don’t like what is happening, but I can see the other side’s position. She lost me, however, on the settlements. There is no legitimate rationale for the land grab on the West Bank. None.

    As I wrote this morning: OH WELL, I’M DONE WITH ELIZABETH WARREN…

    Do all you can to make today a good day,

    Jeff

  4. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    “Leadership” is a dog whistle. It means the politician has nothing to say.

    Even worse, in the USA the soundbite “the United States must also continue to take a leadership role in pushing other countries to” can be added to anything to sound profound. But we of the said other countries hear it differently: a school bully speaking.

  5. says

    The political system in the US reveals how rigged it is when it comes to war: all the “representatives” in government generally favor it even when the people don’t Of course there are pro-war democrats!! The whole damn establishment is pro-war; they just pretend to disagree about unimportant public policy issues, and use the clamor to keep real issues off the agenda.

  6. Holms says

    I’d say ESPECIALLY their own supporters. The right and left’s opinion of each other is meaningless at this point…

    Agreed, the idea that we need to turn a blind eye to the faults of those that we ally with is a poisonous one.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    I’m generous enough to assume that Warren simply hasn’t paid enough attention to foreign affairs. After all, untangling the financial mess that Wall Street cronies have made is more than a full-time job.
    I am hopeful that if we keep giving liberal pols pushback on Israel that they will eventually crawl into the 21st century and stop giving Israel carte blanche simply because of the the Nazi atrocities.
    Hamas is also cynically exploiting Palestinian grievances for their own gain, and we must resist that, but no one should let Israel do the same without complaint, either.

  8. aashiq says

    AIPAC craftily forces politicians to make tradeoffs by balancing their support on issues they like, to Israel. This has happened time and again.

    Domestic issues come up daily, whereas Israel comes up occasionally, so it is an easy Faustian bargain for politicians to make.

    Holding their feet to the fire is the only way.

  9. lorn says

    Ohhh … cry me a river.

    I agree with Warren, the Palestinians have shown themselves to be untrustworthy and duplicitous. They have shown no restraint in their attacks and have made destruction of Israel and killing Jews a cornerstone of their ideology. Until those positions and goals are removed and repudiated I give Israel a free hand to handled them any way they see fit. If anything I’m quite impressed by the restraint Israel has shown.

    On a not completely different issue, seeing as that you are so sensitive to such things, I’d like to get your opinion on:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/22/hamas-executes-suspected-infomers-gaza

    By my rough count that makes something close to 30 Palestinians executed by Hamas in the last six months.

  10. Silentbob says

    @ 10 lorn

    You seriously need to ask Mano’s opinion on extra-judicial executions?

    Look, I don’t know the man personally, but given his opposition to the death penalty, his reaction to things like the recent events in Ferguson, his general humanism and concern for human rights, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that he is opposed.

  11. Holms says

    I agree with Warren, the Palestinians have shown themselves to be untrustworthy and duplicitous. They have shown no restraint in their attacks and have made destruction of Israel and killing Jews a cornerstone of their ideology. Until those positions and goals are removed and repudiated I give Israel a free hand to handled them any way they see fit.

    Wow, you’ve explicitly granted them carte blanche for any method of retaliation, and your praise for their ‘restraint’ shows that not even collective punishment – a war crime by the way – is enough for you. You can join the ranks of StevoR and colnago80 as an unabashed war crimes apologist.

  12. Mano Singham says

    lorn@10,

    I am opposed to the death penalty even after the most careful investigation that protects the rights of the accused finds people guilty of even the most heinous crimes.

    So my position on whether summarily executing people without any due process merely on some suspicion is good or bad should be easy to guess.

  13. Ed says

    How has Israel shown such impressive restraint? Yes there are countries that have treated a rebellious population worse, but is that really something to be proud of? Many other societies have granted either independence or full citizenship in such conflicts. Since Israel would never accept the possibility of a non-Jewish majority, the two state solution is the only civilized one.

    It is possible (and very common) to oppose Hamas while still supporting Palestinian independence. Hamas gained much of its power through exploiting legitimate desperation.

    America should either stay out of it or actually support a serious peace process.

  14. aashiq says

    #10 lorn

    Israel has shown restraint? Ha!

    Israel attacked Gaza to thwart a unified Palestinian government. It is engaged in “slow genocide”, and genocide is being actively discussed and proposed in the Knesset. There are even Rabbis justifying genocide using Jewish scriptures (just like Islamic fundamentalists use Islamic scriptures) like the “Kings Torah”.

    It is sheer nonsense to commend Israel for anything!

  15. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ aashiq :

    Israel has shown restraint? Ha!

    Reality is Israel has shown restraint. Consider the weapons at Israel’s disposal and what they could’ve done to Gaza but haven’t. Israel has targeted Hamas leaders. Hamas leaders cowering behind their own children and women and hiding their weapons in & firing from just outside schools, hospitals and UN shelters. That is known fact.

    Israel attacked Gaza to thwart a unified Palestinian government.

    Bzzt! Wrong. Israel defended itself from Hamas rocket fire coming from Gaza. Hamas rocketfire that has killed anumberof innocent Israeli civilians including a four year old child.

    It is engaged in “slow genocide”, and genocide is being actively discussed and proposed in the Knesset.

    Slow genocide indeed when the population supposedly experiencing it is actually growing! Also read this :

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_spectator/2014/08/genocide_gaza_and_godwin_s_law.html

    So I would like to focus on one overused analogy word: “genocide,” a word I first found cropping up in hashtags on Twitter such as #GenocideinGaza, and in overheated online “discussions.” I think there is a case to be made that this use of “genocide” violates the essence of Godwin’s Law, the heart of which is that comparisons to ultimate evil are all too often used carelessly. … (snip) … Genocide is genocide and not something else. As defined by the United States Holocaust Museum, genocide is “a very specific term, referring to violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group.” Destroy the existence, not merely violate its rights or engage in combat. … (snip) .. e must contend with the truly sensational and horrific—and explicitly genocidal—element of the Hamas Covenant: Article 7. The article that is an explicit call for the extermination of all Jews. An explicit call for genocide.

    Israel could committ genocide but chooses not to and seeks peace instead.

    Hamas rejects peace and explictly demands genocide.

    What part of this exactly do you fail to understand?

    Israel can be criticised for getting some things wrong – but it certainly is NOT committing genocide on the Arabs or even the Gazans.

    It is sheer nonsense to commend Israel for anything!

    Really? It develops an awful lot of amazing technology including some astronomical gear. It has some amazing cities full of places and people that excel in all sorts of areas. It has the Dead Sea, ancient archaeological sites, some pioneering ideas on agriculture and social living (moshavs, kibbutizim) and much more. Yet you are so blinded by politics or maybe something far worse that you are going to completely overlook all that and just condemn Israekl because … ???

  16. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Israel has targeted Hamas leaders. Hamas leaders cowering behind their own children and women and hiding their weapons in & firing from just outside schools, hospitals and UN shelters. That is known fact.

    As is shown here :

    http://www.france24.com/en/20140805-exclusive-video-hamas-rocket-launching-pad-near-gaza-homes-un-building/

    FRANCE 24 correspondent Gallagher Fenwick says the site in Gaza City is some 50 metres (less than 165 feet) from a hotel where the majority of international media is staying. It also lies just 100 metres from a UN building clearly marked with the trademark light blue flag.

    “This type of setup is at the heart of the debate within the international community but also between Israel and the Palestinian militants,” says Fenwick. “The Israeli army has repeatedly accused Palestinian militants of shooting from within densely populated civilian areas, and that is precisely the type of setup we have right here – rockets set up right next to buildings with a lot of residents.”

    See the clip there for yourself.

    Hamas has been manipulating the Western Left and using them to push its propaganda for a long time. Just as the Western Left ignored the evil of Stalinism, they are repeating that error today with Islamofascism – ironically about as far to the political Right and as patriachial and homophobic and plain evil as one can get. (Protip – hating on the USA and its allies whilst fitting that self-destructive disloyalty desire / impulse of the Leftist doesn’t make a side right!)

    It is much to Elizabeth Warren’s credit that she unlike so many others hasn’t fallen for the Hamas rubbish – and it doesn’t make her pro-war so much as able to see reality without ideological blinkers. More power to her!

  17. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @Mano Singham : “So my position on whether summarily executing people without any due process merely on some suspicion is good or bad should be easy to guess.”

    Maybe it should be easy to guess but will you please confirm or refute those guesses by a clear statement expressing your views on Hamas brutally murdering so many Gazans accused – without due process – of being collaborators?

    Please will you give us all a direct unequivocal answer to that question?

  18. Holms says

    Reality is Israel has shown restraint. Consider the weapons at Israel’s disposal and what they could’ve done to Gaza but haven’t. Israel has targeted Hamas leaders.

    Collective punishment is always an act of aggression and is never an example of restraint, regardless of how much more violent it could be. By analogy, according to your logic, punching the shit out of someone is an example of restraint because hey, at least stopped short of murder.

    This has been pointed out to you on many occasions.

    Hamas leaders cowering behind their own children and women and hiding their weapons in & firing from just outside schools, hospitals and UN shelters. That is known fact.

    Be honest, have you ever seen the size of the land they are on? I think I recall you saying in another thread that you are a resident of Adelaide, Australia, so fire up google maps or something and use that as a reference. Adelaide and the Gaza Strip are both coastal and are both oriented mostly north-south, so that makes the comparison quite easy.

    Starting with the coastline, start drawing a line at the corner of Beach Road and The Esplanade in the suburb of Christie’s Beach (by right clicking ==> measure distance), then left click where Globe Derby Drive meets Port Wakefield Road close to Parafield Gardens. That’s a length of 39.5km and is an almost perfect match for the length of the Strip’s coast, though the angle isn’t quite right. Next, left click at the junction between North East Road and Montague Road in Ridgehaven, giving us the full extent of Gaza’s north border. Next, head back south to the junction between Whitings Road and Kays Road in between the regional towns of McLaren Vale and Blewitt Springs, then back the the first point at Christies Beach.

    This gives you a slightly wonky rectangle that is actually very close to the dimensions of the Strip, missing only bit of a bulge around the south east corner. This rectangle contains an estimated 1,816,379 people, and has an area (if it was drawn to much more precise directions than those I gave) of 360km^2.

    Now look to the size of Adelaide, which actually stretches over 90km from Sellicks Beach in the south to Gawler up north. Adelaide has 1,291,666 people living within an area of 1,827km^2. Do you notice a gigantic difference in crowding? 71% of the people, in five times the area? Now bear in mind that Adelaide is surrounded by farms extending hundreds of kilometers up and down the coast and inland, while the Gazans are entirely blockaded within one fifth of Adelaide and must produce all their own food within that that space.

    Do you see the damn problem yet? They were put there by Israel and they are jammed cheeck by jowl, made worse by the fact that they need to spend some of that area on farmland rather than more housing because Israel restricts much international aid across the borders. Which you should be aware of, given that you replied in the comments to that post.

    Thus, Hamas are in close proximity to residential areas because that is where they have been placed by Israel’s forced relocation. Please try to know what the hell you are talking about before trying to blame the victim.

    Bzzt! Wrong. Israel defended itself from Hamas rocket fire coming from Gaza. Hamas rocketfire that has killed anumberof innocent Israeli civilians including a four year old child.

    A flat lie. Remember this comment from AsqJames which clearly shows a timeline of Hamas rocket fire starting after Israel assassinated a Hamas member? Also note that the assassination itself was a breach of the terms of the ceasefire both groups had signed. Certain conditions needed to be met before Israel could re-arrest Hamas members; the assassination not only skipped the arrest requirements but also skipped any trial process and went straight to summary execution.

    To reiterate: this breach of terms predates Hamas rocket fire. You replied to that timeline, but I can clearly see that you immediately ignored that most important point and went after relatively minor points.

    Yet you are so blinded by politics or maybe something far worse that you are going to completely overlook all that and just condemn Israekl because … ???

    I put it to you Israel’s reputation, no matter how great it may be in many areas, will inevitably be tarnished by having an official military policy of killing civilians.

  19. Ed says

    SteveR–

    I agree with you that it’s going too far to say that Israel has no virtues but I’m taking about the issue of the treatment of the Palestinians rather than broad generalizations about groups of people:

    –It isn’t such a moral boast to say that there are things they could do to the Palestinians that they don’t. The Chinese government vastly improved since Mao`s death, but they can’t use that fact to deflect all criticism.

    The US could imprison even more people, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a shocking number of people locked up now (especially non-white people) serving ridiculously long sentences for minor offences, bullied into pleading guilty because they have no effective representation, being kept in extremely crowded conditions and in other cases put in solitary confinement for long periods under flimsy pretexts. And quite often shot by police before they even reach the court/prison system.
    But give the system a gold star for not setting up gulags in Alaska, right?

    My point is that not doing the absolute worst one could do is not that morally impressive, especially for societies that are preoccupied with claiming the moral high ground. The attacks on Gaza are far in excess of what the Israelis need to do to protect themselves.

    The inaccuracy of the rockets fired from Gaza and Israel’s sophisticated missile defense system greatly diminish the threat posed to Israel to begin with. Egypt has closed tunnels through which weapons are smuggled in, and Gaza is blockaded by Israel.

    Genocide(?)– I don’t know whether I’d use this term either, but also not sure I wouldn’t. There are definitions that do not go as far as the complete physical destruction of the entire group.

    The aggressive Israei settlement movement in its eastern occupied territories seems to have the purpose of making this area a permanent part of Israel and is forcibly restricting the local population to smaller and smaller bits of land. They are deprived of adequate water supplies. Their mobility is increasingly diminushed by walls, Israeli-only roads, and other such measures.

    Hamas–Again, why are the Palestinians or anyone who sympathized with them equated with Hamas?

  20. Holms says

    Maybe it should be easy to guess but will you please confirm or refute those guesses by a clear statement expressing your views on Hamas brutally murdering so many Gazans accused – without due process – of being collaborators?

    You are so disingenuous it hurts.

Trackbacks

  1. […] 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. […]

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