Foreign Policy

Maybe This Time the Democrats Will Talk About Foreign Policy at the Debate

There were no foreign policy questions at the last debate



Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are meeting for their eighth debate tonight, in Miami. Sanders' surprise win in Michigan yesterday kept Clinton from trying to close the door on Sanders in the nomination race.

The last debate did not include any discussion of foreign policy, illustrative of the narrow differences between all of the remaining candidates in the race on both sides. Last month, Sanders finally targeted Clinton's interventionist policies aggressively at a debate, calling her out for being proud of her association with former Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

He also brought up the U.S.-backed coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh in 1953 that returned the Shah to power and led, eventually, to the 1979 Islamic revolution that ushered in the Islamic Republic of Iran that has since then been a primary nemesis in the American foreign policy menagerie.

Yet such an understanding of the far-reaching effects of short-sighted interventionists didn't temper Sanders elsewhere—he endorsed an increase in NATO troop levels near Russia's European border as a response to Russian activity in Crimea and Ukraine, and insisted an "aggressive" stance about Iran's support of international terrorism would be critical to normalizing relations with the country.

When it comes to ISIS, the policies articulated by Sanders don't differ much from Clinton or, for that matter, most of the Republican field. At the last debate where foreign policy was mentioned, Sanders called the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS a "war for the soul of Islam" that had to be fought by Muslim soldiers with American support.

As for Clinton, she has said she wants to continue Obama's progress on ISIS. The Obama administration's strategy in ISIS has been similar to the vague policies proposed by Sanders and many of the Republicans—U.S. support for an Arab/Muslim coalition on the ground. The biggest difference between the candidates on ISIS is their rhetoric. Ted Cruz talked about finding out if sand glows. Donald Trump says he wants to kill the families of suspected terrorists. But all the candidates agree in principle that the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS should continue, with American bombings and Arab troops on the ground.

Clinton goes one further, using the pretext of ISIS to impose more government controls on the Internet, which she claims is "the most effective recruiter in the world." (Actually the Internet is simply a communication tool—recruiters use it, like billions of other people, to communicate, but the Internet can no more recruit someone to ISIS than Hillary Clinton's private email server could wipe itself). "You are going to hear all the familiar complaints," Clinton said last December, like "freedom of speech."

The comments were strikingly similar to ones made by Donald Trump. "We're losing a lot of people because of the internet. We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways," Trump said. "Somebody will say, 'Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.' These are foolish people."

Clinton hasn't been asked at a debate since then about her Internet comments, or how they mirror the Republican frontrunners. If tonight's debate moderators decide to cover foreign policy, exploring Clinton's comments, and finding out what Sanders' position is on imposing controls on the Internet in the name of the war on terror could actually yield new information about their stated policy positions.

Instead, Democrats are lobbying the moderators to ask more questions about abortion, despite Clinton and Sanders both being pro-choice and pro-spending taxpayer money on reproductive health products and services.

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  1. We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet.

    That’s weird. I’ve found a lot of people (and been found by people) because of the internet. I don’t think I’ve lost a single one.

      1. [shivver] that’s enough to make me hide from the internet.

  2. … wh…why would you introduce foreign policy into the debate when a former Sec. of State is running?


      1. *googles WDATPDIM*

        I approve.

  3. When it comes to ISIS, the policies articulated by Sanders don’t differ much from Clinton or, for that matter, most of the Republican field. At the last debate where foreign policy was mentioned, Sanders called the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS a “war for the soul of Islam” that had to be fought by Muslim soldiers with American support.

    You know, this doesn’t surprise me. ISIS sort of provides something for everyone.

    Putting aside the rightness/wrongness of foreign entanglements that old, dead white Slave owners warned about while penning outdated documents that no one reads any more, ISIS certainly presents a major Human Rights problem wherever they operate and they arguably present an existential threat to the United States (and allies) in regards to the potential for 9/11-style terrorist attacks. It doesn’t surprise me that all the major candidates want to contain it– regardless of specifics on how.

    1. What do you mean by ‘existential threat’?

      1. Having to read “No Exit” at gunpoint.

          1. I’d rather Wait For Godot.

      2. A threat to peoples’ survival. They wish to do harm to residents of western countries.

        I’m not here to argue degree if you’re spoiling for that fight.

        1. No I just use the term differently. I think of an existential threat to a country as a threat to that country’s existence, which ISIS is clearly not in regards to the US.

          1. I’m using the broader term. I suppose when politicians scream it, they’re using it as you’re suggesting, a threat to the very existence of the Fabric of Our Fine Nation. I simply mean that ISIS represents a threat to US citizens.


            Let’s try another approach, looking at how the word is most often used. Using a language corpus, I found that existential most often occurs in one of these phrases:

            existential threat
            existential questions
            existential crisis

            The first phrase, existential threat, is used in texts or discussions about politics, usually politics in the Middle East. In this context, existential is being used literally. An existential threat is a threat to a people’s existence or survival.

            The second phrase, existential questions, references Existentialism, a 20th century philosophy concerned with questions about how and whether life has meaning, and why we exist. (For more information, look up Existentialism or the philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre.)

          2. Enough major terror attacks against the US, might not be an existential threat to the U.S. but it might be an existential threat to liberty.

            People will demand that government do something to stop it, and it will do what government always does.

            1. It’s pretty clearly already proven to be a threat to liberty. Of course the counter-argument to that is that Al Qaeda/ISIS weren’t a threat to our liberty, but reactionary politicians and voters are. Unfortunately I can do little about them either.

        2. “An existential threat to X” means “something which threatens the existence of X”.

  4. IM TRADING YOU, MAGIKARP! ??]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] 10% complete….. ????]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] 35% complete…. ???????]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] 60% complete…. ???????????] 99% complete….. ERROR! True Magikarp are irreplaceable I could never delete you Magikarp! Send this to ten other Trainers who give you Magikarps Or never get called The Very Best again If you get 0 Back: no gym badges for you 3 back: you’re the very best like no one ever was 5 back: you’re Gyarados

      1. It was bound to happen someday…H&R has driven somebody completely insane.

        Never thought HM would be the first to go.

      2. What? Meowth got your tongue?

    1. Somebody just learned a bunch of new html tags

    2. Yep,he’s lost it.Too much Trump.

      1. But will we ever reach PEAK Trump?

    3. This is the greatest millennial specific forwarding status/chain bullshit I’ve ever read. Thanks HM

  5. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”

    I think we can all agree with that.

  6. The comments were strikingly similar to ones made by Donald Trump. “We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet. We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways,” Trump said. “Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”

    You know, you’re right. I hadn’t thought about it like that before, but once you read the transcript it does become pretty clear you’re listening to a Bad Lip-Reading bit.

    1. All of Trump’s speeches are indistinguishable from Bad Lip-Reading bits.

  7. Sanders’ surprise win in Michigan yesterday

    So I only caught a little of this yesterday: was it a surprise because of polling info? I would have thought Sanders would be a favorite in MI given the loss of manufacturing jobs and his general working-class cred.

    1. Hilldawg had something like a 20-point lead in the polls.

    2. was it a surprise because of polling info

      Yes. Nate Silver predicted Clinton as having a 99% chance of winning.

      1. Of 100 alternate universes, Silver had to pick the one where Sanders won.

        1. Why couldn’t he picked the universe where Hillary won?

          1. Why couldn’t he have picked the one where Ron Paul won in 08?

            1. Translation of my comment. Why couldn’t they both lose?

      2. “Nate Silver predicted Clinton as having a 99% chance of winning.”

        The 1% strike again. And they’re in favor of Bernie!

    3. Unfortunately for Bernie, MI isn’t winner take all. I think $hillary got something like 10 less delegates than Sanders.

    4. Hazel pointed out in a previous thread that with Mi’s open primary, a lot those working-class white democratic voters who are anti-trade swung Trump, directly reflecting the abnormally low turnout for Dem voters.

  8. In the case of Iran the US did the right thing. Installed a mild authoritarian to keep the Islamists down.

    And Reason which didn’t like what happened in Libya – goes after that success.

    And BTW we were in a war with communism then and the Shah was anti-communist. Mosaddegh was pro-communist.

    1. So were we trying to contain the communists or the Islamists? Make up your mind.

      Or were we just protecting BP’s stake in the Iranian oil fields?

      1. Both – although the Islamist weren’t the initial problem.

        Protecting BP was part of the fight against communism. You wouldn’t have wanted the communists nationalizing those oil fields would you?

        Well – the Islamist did it anyway. Iran is headed the way of Venezuela. Instead of keeping up the oil fields they put their money into various wars.

        1. What did it really matter if the communists nationalized the oil fields in Iran? Ultimately, while it is not a libertarian outcome, it is still better than the USA organizing coups in foreign countries for financial interests.

          Hindsight being 40/20, the Shah enabled the Islamists by removing and suppressing any liberal political movement in Iran that could compete with them.

      2. Communists. Islamists weren’t even a major dinner-table discussion back then.

        1. They were still a problem. An engineer I used to know was working there and complained that very little could be accomplished because every time they built something some savage would sneak out in the night and blow it up.

          They have been a problem since…well, since ever.

  9. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are meeting for their eighth debate tonight, in Miami.

    Mama pinga!

  10. The feeble fat ankle female mammal is set to do an appearance very near my tree branch. If you stoooooopid warm-bloods are interested then perhaps I shall live update some of that nonsense

    1. Are you sure she is a mammal? She seems very cold blooded to me.

    2. Please do, Mr Lizard.

    1. “Obama has publicly defended Clinton, saying that while she “made a mistake” with her email setup, it was “not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”

      Having our murdered Ambassador dragged through the streets of Benghazi is apparently no danger to our national security. I can’t wait for Obumbles to pack his bags and shut the fuck up. Just piss off already.

      As for Comey, his stance on the Apple issue is enough for me to want him to resign. Sadly there is more, but that alone is a doozie.

      1. Having our murdered Ambassador dragged through the streets of Benghazi is apparently no danger to our national security.

        Well, no, it wasn’t.

        And I’m pretty sure he was “dragged through the streets” because people were trying to get him to a hospital.

  11. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  12. I think all their policy planks are foreign. Some are left over from Stalinist Russia, some from Maoist China, a few from the Khmer Rouge.

  13. There’s a conservative blogger who supports Trump and frequently lambastes libertarians as the destroyers of civilization as we know it and today it suddenly clicked with me what he (and presumably others) are talking about. Libertarians are individualists, conservatives are civil socialists, for lack of a better term. It’s them damn hippies who preached “doing your own thing” that tore the social fabric to shreds without replacing it with anything better – that’s where the “evil libertarians are why we can’t have nice things” comes from, I suppose. To a conservative, there’s a balance between the individual and the tribe and the good of the tribe takes precedence when it comes to fitting square pegs into round holes. Libertarians say screw your round holes – but once everybody starts acting like personal happiness outweighs one’s duty to one’s family and neighbors and community, all these social groups start falling apart. We need to all work together to make strong families and strong communities and strong social institutions- to make America great again, if you will – and if you don’t feel like doing your part by getting involved and sharing the load, well, you just need to be forced to do it anyways.

    1. You need to be made to fit into your role as a cog in the social machine, go to church and the PTA meetings, mow your lawn on Saturday mornings and repaint the white picket fence when it needs it, say hello to the Widow Smith on your way down to Anderson’s Gro-Shur-E Mart, hop in your Chevy sedan and head off to work at the Springvale Widget factory just like your dad did and his dad before him and just as your son’s going to do some day – you may not like it, but goddammit, Springvale depends on you doing your part to keep Springvale operating like it’s supposed to so quit whining and suck it up and be a man. Because Springvale is more important than you and you think any of us are happy doing this stuff either? If we stop working for Springvale, why, everybody might just run off doing their own thing and Springvale’s gonna fall to shit and then who’s going to paint the white picket fences and attend the PTA meetings and say hello to the Widow Smith? Your purpose in life is to serve the needs of your community – and don’t be a smartass and start asking what the hell the point of a community is if not to serve the needs of the individual or I’ll rap you in the mouth. Now go paint your picket fence, ya damn hippie.

      1. But libertarians aren’t atomistic individualists like we’re portrayed – we just have a different idea of community. Why should I care more about some guy I don’t know in Atlanta more than a guy in Birmingham I don’t know just because of some line on a map? Or some guy I don’t know in Oregon more than some guy in Ecuador I don’t know just because of some line on a map? Why should I feel some special sense of duty to Make America Great Again? Whether it’s some Big Idea Hillary or Bernie or Donald or Ted or Barack is pushing – what the hell’s it got to do with me unless I want it to have something to do with me or my family or my friends or whoever I choose to consider as part of my community? Why do I gotta be part of your community just because you say so?

        1. Yes. My idea of making America great again differs sharply from theirs.

          “America is the worst country, except for all the others.” – Samuel Clemens

          I agree, just not for the reasons most people think.

        2. I think conservatives would reject cultural relativism. So when you say what if I feel like doing A, B, and C are more important than X, Y, and Z sort of common American ideals, or values, or just cultural norms then basically they hear that you reject those things.

          I’m not a believer in cultural relativism either, I think there are reason other cultures are poorer and less free and many of those reasons are culture. Where I see a difference is that some conservatives do want to enforce these norms to sort of “make America great”, though there’s no broad consensus on what those things are. I believe the success of the western world has to do with some cultural norms but part of that is enlightened ideals. The forefathers didn’t force people to do PTA meetings, and church or football on Sunday or whatever. Free people chose to do those things. Liberty is a part of the American culture as much as anything else.
          It’s like the free speech or drugs debate. You should be able to say anything, or do any drugs. Libertarians aren’t necessarily endorsing those as good ideas that everyone should follow. I think a nation of heroine addicts would probably be a shitty nation. But to them libertarians are endorsing a bunch of things to change American culture, and worse than that rejecting that any of those things matter.

          1. There is some faction with adherence to the constitution because it is part of the American cultural norm, and since the Constitution is generally close to many libertarian ideals you can appeal with some success to conservatives.
            What I think they miss is that first, freedom to do X doesn’t mean everyone would do it so American culture just won’t change very much. Second, forcing people to do X is more harmful to American culture than letting tranny’s piss in a business if the owner wants it.
            Maybe there sensitivity comes from the fact that there are some on the left that are polar opposites on culture. They think American culture is racist, xenophobic, etc and would like it to change, and punish those with traditional values.
            Arguing over who gets the jackboot, instead of that nobody should is losing the argument for conservatives IMO.

  14. Doing laundry at the place next to my work. I picked up a Firestone wookey Jack. I think long trails black rye might be better, but this is damn good.

    1. Right. There’s a liquor store inbetween, so I’m sitting at work.
      Now that makes more sense.

      1. I think there are laundry mats that serve booze.

        1. They serve pitchers in recycled detergent jugs.

          1. I’ve drank out of worse

  15. I think we know what their foreign policy will be.

    1. To destabilize the third world, cause wave after wave of refugees to invade the west and thus destabilize the west? To destroy the enlightenment? To usher in a thousand year dark age with an elite class enslaving the rest of humanity?

      The person who initiated that should be shot.

      Not long ago I would have considered those suggestions to be tin foil hat territory.

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