Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has made his antiwar, dovish image the foundation of his campaign in his efforts to beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. But a look at Sanders’ record puts that image into question.
Recently, there was Bernie’s support for the F-35, a stealth fighter that was unnecessary, plagued with problems, and considered by many experts to be a prime example of wasteful defense spending. But it’s just par for the course with Sanders.
The Daily Beast reports on how Sanders’ campaign speeches are full of rhetoric aimed at corporations and the military industrial complex, yet when those companies come around, Bernie has been very friendly.
“We know that there is massive fraud going on in the defense industry. Virtually every major defense contractor has either been convicted of fraud or reached a settlement with the government,” Sanders said in Iowa City last year at a town hall. “We need a strong military, it is a dangerous world. But I think we can make judicious cuts.”
But when those defense corporations come to his own backyard, he quietly welcomes them in.
The Vermont senator persuaded Lockheed Martin to place a research center in Burlington, according to Newsweek, and managed to get 18 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets stationed at the city’s airport for the Vermont National Guard.“In very clever ways, the military-industrial complex puts plants all over the country, so that if people try to cut back on our weapons system what they’re saying is you’re going to be losing jobs in that area,” Sanders said at a Q&A in New Hampshire back in 2014. “[W]e’ve got to have the courage to understand that we cannot afford a lot of wasteful, unnecessary weapons systems, and I hope we can do that.”
History has shown that Sanders has not had the courage to do that.
So when Bernie and his constituents can benefit from the military industrial complex, the socialist senator is suddenly not so principled.
When asked specifically about his support of the F-35, Sanders admitted it was wasteful and sidestepped the question. Just how wasteful? The Daily Beast writes:
The F-35 stealth fighter is untold billions over budget, years behind schedule, and plagued with embarrassing problems. There have been problems with its software, its sensors, and its gun (which won’t be able to fire until 2019). A few months ago a military spokesmansaid that the fighter jet “wasn’t optimized for dogfighting.” In fact, in a test battle with the 40-year-old F-16, the brand new F-35 jet lost.
“The F-35 will, in my opinion, be 10 years behind legacy fighters,” one Air Force official affiliated with the F-35 program told The Daily Beast about a year ago.
Good ole Bernie even sided with the corporate military industrial complex over his socialist brethren when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1985. Protests had erupted outside the local General Electric plant where Gatling guns were being manufactured to fight socialists in Nicaragua. General Electric was a huge jobs provider in the area, so Bernie didn’t want to upset them. He called the police and had the protests broken up.
Power to the People! Just not in Bernie Sanders’ town….
In fact, some liberals have remained avowed critics of Sanders because of his support for militarism. Counterpunch, for example, a liberal magazine, writes in The Myths of Bernie Sanders:
Although Sanders may have once been a socialist back in the 80s when he was Mayor of Burlington, today, a socialist he is not. Rather he behaves more like a technofascist disguised as a liberal, who backs all of President Obama’s nasty little wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Since he always “supports the troops,” Sanders never opposes any defense spending bill. He stands behind all military contractors who bring much-needed jobs to Vermont.
It seems Bernie’s anti-militarism, “I voted against the Iraq war” rhetoric may be more image than substance.