The Cold War is over, but Bernie Sanders goes marching on. Too bad.
In the Baltic, the Russian air force has been having some fun harassing our planes doing routine reconnaissance flights in international airspace near Russia’s borders. [Russian Su-27 barrel rolls on U.S. spyplane over the Baltic Sea. Once again, The Aviationist, April 29, 2016]
This is a cheap way for Putin to show up the emptiness of NATO. According to the NATO charter, if Putin were to roll his tanks into, say, Estonia, we’d all have to go to war against him. If we actually tried to do that in such an event, NATO would collapse in a cloud of dust, as Pat Buchanan pointed out in a column recently.
My advice to our policy-makers is the same as Pat’s: dump NATO, which is just a needless annoyance to Russia. The Baltic is not the Crimea. Russia has neither the physical resources nor the strategic necessity to re-occupy the Baltic states, and doesn’t need the sanctions that would surely follow. Those countries are, though, in Russia’s sphere of influence, and Russians are justifiably vexed that they don’t keep themselves respectably neutral, as Finland did all through the Cold War (and still does).
Can we please talk about updating the configuration of U.S. overseas troop deployments, to bear some relation to the geopolitics of 2016?
Perhaps significantly, Democratic Presidential contender Bernie Sanders still calls himself a socialist nearly three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union famously caused life-long socialist Robert Heilbroner to admit “Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won…”.[The Triumph Of Capitalism, New Yorker, January 23, 1989]
On immigration, NumbersUSA gives Bernie a C-minus grade on his voting record in Congress. That sounds bad, but for the Democratic Party, whose nomination Bernie is seeking, anything better than a D is, as Mrs. Clinton would say, off the reservation. C-minus actually puts Sanders ahead of former Democratic Senator Jim Webb, my pick for Trump’s Vice President, who got a D+, tying with GOP Senator Rand Paul, and better than GOP Senators Marco Rubio and John Kasich, who both got plain Ds. (Lest we forget: all these contenders were destroyed by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both of whom campaigned as immigration patriots
Like Jim Webb, Sanders opposed the 2007 Schumer-Kennedy-Rubio-McCain Open Borders bill. Like Webb and other old-line Democrats, he was at that time channeling early 20th-century labor leaders like Samuel Gompers, who saw mass immigration as a threat to American workers, which of course it is.
My impression is that Bernie’s sipping was less reluctant than Webb’s. Whether it was or not, the turnaround on immigration puts something of a dent in the propaganda about Bernie being a man of iron principle.
In fairness, though, I should say while running comparisons with Webb that while Bernie avoided the draft as a conscientious objector and was an Antiwar pacifist in the Vietnam era. [Sanders Applied For Conscientious Objector Status To Avoid Vietnam War, by Kerry Picket, The Daily Caller, August 31, 2015.] I can’t find any evidence of his being broadly anti-military in the style of the modern Left—as exemplified by whichever Clinton White House staffer told General McCaffrey that,quote, “I don’t talk to the military.” [For Clinton And Military, Never A Honeymoon, By Mark Thompson, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 27, 1993]
Sanders sat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee for a while, and by all accounts worked hard on veterans’ behalf.
You see there the divide between Old Left and New Left. The Old Left approach to the soldiery was one of pity for dimwitted innocents who had been duped into uniform by capitalist lies, or driven into it by poverty. Bob Dylan expressed that view in songs like “Masters of War” and “God on Our Side.”
And here you do get a definitive parting of the ways with Jim Webb, who sees his own military service—which was very distinguished — in traditionalist terms of patriotism, honor, and duty. That’s my V.P. candidate!
All that said, I can’t let Bernie off the hook. His attitude to the totalitarian despotisms of the mid-20th century was, to make the best of it — and a lot of people are trying hard to make the best of it, see How Bernie Sanders Spent His Soviet ‘Honeymoon‘ by Leonid Bershidsky on Bloomberg— equivocal.
Plenty of people on the Left have spoken out against the cruelty and obscurantism of communism—George Orwell, for example. Bernie, to my knowledge, never has, certainly not while communism was a major force in the world.
May 16th, next Monday, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the start of Mao Tse-tung’s Great Cultural Revolution, which was just one episode among dozens in the blood-soaked history of communism in power.
When I see his cranky face on TV, I don’t see a wrong-headed but picturesque old codger.
I see an accomplice to mass murder.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjectsfor all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He’s had two books published by VDARE.com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived atJohnDerbyshire.com.