It is possible to like and admire U.S Sen. Bernie Sanders and still be frightened out of one’s wits at the thought of him being president of the United States.
Sanders’ responses to “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd’s questions about his lack of foreign policy credentials yesterday no doubt provided Republican strategists, already salivating imagining him as the Democratic nominee for president, more reason to cheer his candidacy on.
Sanders’ discomfort with questions about foreign policy has been painfully evident. His answers are platitudes, followed by the quickest possible pivot to themes of economic injustice with which he is considerably more comfortable. A highly intelligent man, his responses on national security issues are routinely vacuous, often making Donald Trump look like a Brookings Institute analyst by comparison.
Yesterday Todd asked Sanders if he would tell Americans who his foreign policy advisers were. Sanders replied that he “talked” with James Zogby and J-Street, an answer pretty nearly as bad as those already worried about the old socialist as commander in chief could have feared. For if Zogby and J-Street are not the very last people anyone should want advising a U.S. president on foreign policy, they surely make the short list.
Zogby, founder of the Arab-American Institute, ardently supported Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat while he was stealing Palestinians’ money, blocking a peace agreement with Israel and orchestrating the murder of Israeli civilians. As for the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which occupies Lebanon and has helped the Syrian regime slaughter tens of thousands of Syrians and make refugees of millions more, Zogby has described it as a “resistance movement.”
J-Street has likewise proven itself demonstrably wrong time and time again. It opposed the very sanctions on Iran that President Obama acknowledged were responsible for inducing Iran to reach a nuclear deal, accusing those who supported the sanctions that made diplomacy possible of favoring a “rush to war.” Had J-Street’s position prevailed, of course, there never would have been an agreement.
With most Americans regarding national security as an urgent issue, Sanders’ worldview is that we are presumptively wicked if we seek to protect ourselves and our allies. This is dogma born in the 1960s that was tired in the 1970s and exhausted by the 1980s. If by telling us that he seeks counsel from Zogby and J-Street, Sanders hopes to reassure us, there is real reason to worry.
Jeff Robbins, a Boston attorney, served as chief minority counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.