In The Intercept’s September 22 interview with Vermont’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, the man they call “the most popular politician in the United States by a country mile,” he appears to confirm the broad criticism of his grasp on foreign policy, namely that he suffers from a foreign policy deficit. As Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, put it: “It’s not the subject he gravitates to, that’s fair to say.”
This came into sharp focus when The Intercept asked if Sanders “who is Jewish and briefly lived on a kibbutz in Israel in the 1960s,” would ever consider voting to reduce US aid to Israel ($3.8 billion a year) or likewise reduce US arms sales to the Israeli military, he delved into a complicated response, bereft of knowledge or understanding of the past 50 years in the Middle East:
“The US funding plays a very important role, and I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how US aid can bring people together, not just result in an arms war in that area,” Sanders said. “So I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas. At the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues.”
There’s a hole the size of a blown-up number 5 bus on Dizengoff Street in each one of the above sentence, which culminate in a bizarre demand for Israeli contribution to environmental issues – necessarily reminding the reader that Bernie is 76, and occasionally succumbs to non-linear thinking.
When pressed, though, Sanders finally answered the question about reducing US aid to Israel: “So the answer is yes.”
Which brings us back to the mother of all peace deals between Israel and its long-time enemies, the Camp David Accords that were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17 1978, under relentless pressure by the President Jimmy Carter.
As part of the accords, Israel agreed to withdraw its armed forces from the Sinai, evacuate its 4,500 civilian inhabitants, and restore the peninsula to Egypt in return for normal diplomatic relations with Egypt, and a restriction on the forces Egypt could place on the Sinai peninsula. The agreement also resulted in the United States committing to several billion dollars worth of annual subsidies to the governments of both Israel and Egypt, subsidies which continue to this day, and are given as a mixture of grants and aid packages committed to purchasing US materiel.
Sanders either fails to understand or is ignorant of the fact that US aid to Israel (and to Egypt) is part of a negotiated commitment, the violation of which would put in peril the foundations of peace efforts in the Middle East. Specifically, if the US reneges on its commitments within the framework of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, how can Israel ever accept any US guarantees that might accompany a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority?
There’s another dimension to Sanders’ ignorance: More than $3 billion out of the current annual $3.8 billion US military aid to Israel stay in the US, paying the salaries of American technicians and workers from Long Island to Seattle. There’s no way an American President could take back those funds – never mind what AIPAC and US Jews would have to say about it.
Frankly, at just under $320 billion GDP, Israel could compensate with relative ease for whatever reduction the US might wish to impose on its military aid, but then the US would give up its control over Israeli sales of advanced military technology to China and Russia. That’s another foreign policy fun fact Senator Sanders either doesn’t know or doesn’t want to know.
The Democratic party is already aware of the fact that Bernie Sanders is an agent of chaos, leading the same hordes of crazed nihilists that cost the 1972, 1984, and 2016 elections. Those forces should not be emulated nor cultivated, they should be expunged from the party of FDR, JFK, and WJC.