Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bernie's Hypocrisy on Defense Spending

I confess I was very pleased to see Hillary Clinton's thorough defeat in the New Hampshire primaries this week.* But it's always important to clarify that heartfelt opposition to one candidate does not necessarily entail genuine support for their opponent. Elsewhere, we have suggested that Bernie Sanders may be the least of all the plausible evils remaining in the race for the Presidency. While that may be true, we should not forget all the things that Bernie is terrible on. One of those things is the topic of today's recommendation.

We're speaking of course about Bernie's oddly close relationship with the defense industry.

Bernie regularly condemns corporate handouts from the government and presents himself as the relatively antiwar candidate left in the race. It is therefore surprising that Bernie has consistently supported defense spending on projects of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, which is the largest defense contractor in the world and receives more US government money than any other company. This includes support of the enormously expensive and useless F-35 fighter plane. Essentially, the F-35 is a wealth redistribution program from US taxpayers to the shareholders and employees of Lockheed Martin.

But this is okay with Bernie because he's managed to ensure a lot of those Lockheed employees are in his home state. I'm not speculating here; that's literally his stated justification. Wasteful defense spending isn't going away any time soon, so it might as well be in his district. If that doesn't sound like a regular politician to you, nothing will.

I'll let the article pick up the story from there and fill in the details. Note that it's coming from a left-leaning publication so it's not just a random hit piece. Rather, it's conveying an unfortunate fact about a candidate that many people desperately want to believe in. I still happen to think a Sanders foreign policy would kill the fewest people (or do so with the least zeal, in any case). But it's always important to remember how low the bar is. The least bad option among terrible alternatives is still a bad option. On foreign policy, Bernie Sanders is that option.

And on that light note, here's the link:

Bernie Sanders Loves This $1 Trillion War Machine

*It's not that I'm a sexist though I assure you; I just have an irreconcilable dislike for politicians that have successfully steered the US into aggressive wars. I suspect my opposition to a Dick Cheney presidential run would be similar in character though stronger in intensity. If you like that parallel, you should check out this piece that I borrowed it from.


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  2. Gah, I actually read Herbert's full statement for the first time and he admitted dogfighting wasn't what it was made for, so he's not as relic'y as I thought. But the dogfighting argument is tired, and they need to ditch it. I agree with your post though, retire the thing.

  3. Yeah, I don't think I'd disagree with that point. But then that sort of opens up the even better question, which I'm sure you know,of what is it for? Either we're foolishly gearing up to fight Russia / China, in which case it's conceivably useful to have a plane can fight other planes. Or, more likely, we're going to continue to engage in low-level counterinsurgency warfare in which case there are no large industrial targets for airstrikes and a supersonic stealth fighter is useless and unnecessary, since insurgents with AKs aren't going to be able to defend against it anyways. Thus, it's really suitable for nothing, which makes Bernie's support all the more reprehensible.