I returned to the United States in 2016, directly into the excessively long election season. I’ve managed to avoid listening to American politics for years, but the other day I was with some friends watching the 4th democratic debate between Hillary, Sanders and some random governor no one cares about1. I’ve had friends constantly promoting Sanders, so I was curious if he was different in any meaningful way from the oligarchy I had grown up under. After watching the debates, I realized that Sanders is nothing new or special. He is a breed of the same war mongering that has been part of the American regime since before my birth.
Sanders holds the traditional American line on war. When asked if Obama’s policies helped create a vacuum under which ISIS could grow, Sanders gave the following response:
“I think the vacuum was created by the disastrous war in Iraq, which I vigorously opposed. Not only did I vote against it, I helped lead the opposition. And what happened there is yes, it’s easy to get rid of a two-bit dictator like Saddam Hussein, but there wasn’t the kind of thought as to what happens the day after you get him and what kind of political vacuum occurs. And who rises up? Groups like ISIS.” -Sanders
Saddam was apparently a two-bit dictator according to Sanders. It’s a good thing there are no photos or records of him being a US ally like the 1983 photograph of Donald Rumsfeld greeting him in Baghdad as special envoy from Roland Regan2. Sander’s statement is an implication that ISIS came about to fill in the vacuum from the previous administration and the original 2003 Iraq war. It avoids the fact that Obama has been running the country since 2008. Both he and Hillary back Obama’s policies unquestionably throughout the debate.
Furthermore, for many non-Americans, the question of where ISIS came from is obvious. Many Iranians believe ISIS was created directly by the United States3. Obama has even said that the United States has funded and trained ISIL (now ISIS) forces4. The current policy of the United States is to continue to fund ISIS in Syria while also opposing Assad.
The goals work at cross purposes. There is no interest at all in providing stability to the region. By continuing to fund the rebels, fight the rebels and fight the government, the United States is pushing to create the exact same type of vacuum that followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. ISIS is not the accidental result of Bush’s 2003 war as Sanders implied in his statement, but the direct and intentional result of the Obama administration’s support of terrorist rebels. Sanders and Hilliary show no change in that policy.
When asked about adding backdoors to current encryption standards, all the candidates completely avoided the issue.
“I believe whether it’s a back door or a front door that the American principle of law should still hold that our federal government should have to get a warrant…” -O’Malley
“What we have got to do there is, among other things, as I was just saying, have Silicon Valley help us to make sure that information being transmitted through the Internet or in other ways by ISIS is, in fact, discovered. But I do believe we can do that without violating the constitutional and privacy rights of the American people.” -Sanders
I find Mitchell’s question more profound than any of their answers when he asked the following:
“Secretary Clinton, you said that the leaders from the intelligence community went to Silicon Valley, they were flatly turned down. They got nowhere.” -Mitchell
This is the reality. The intelligence community got nowhere with the tech industry, because creating any type of backdoor into encryption makes encryption completely and entirely useless. The responses of these politicians completely circumvents the actual question about the underlying technology. It is impossible to have both strong encryption, and shared keys/escrow to be utilized by law enforcement or spy agencies.
A warrant is useless against strong encryption, and strong encryption is fundamental in protecting regular citizens from laws against thought crime. Politicians can scream terrorist and criminals all they want, but if law enforcement officials are trying to investigate crime, they need to gather real physical evidence crimes have taken place. That can be done without needing to circumvent encryption and gathering evidence that is based entirely on the content of what would otherwise be protected as free speech.
“And we all know, no argument, the secretary is absolutely right, Assad is a butcher of his own people, man using chemical weapons against his own people. This is beyond disgusting.” -Sanders
Sanders used the phrase “no argument” in referring to Assad “butchering his own people”, even though Germany’s own intelligence agency has reported that Assad did not use chemical weapons on his own people5. In fact, this idea of Assad being a butcher and assaulting his own people is part of the package of lies Obama and the US news media attempted to feed American back in 2013; a set of lies that failed to sway Americans and British citizens alike from going to war with Syria.
In 2003, the United States was led into a war with Iraq based on outright propaganda about the presence of weapons of mass destruction that ultimately proved to be a lie. In 2013, Obama attempted to make the same claims against Syria and chemical weapons. It ultimately led to a failure to produce an outright war, but it didn’t prevent the current government from continuing to supply rebels with weapons and continue to launch air strikes.
“We should – we should learn – we should learn from King Abdullah of Jordan, one of the few heroes in a very unheroic place. And what Abdullah said is this is a war with a soul of Islam and that Muslim troops should be on the ground with our support and the support of other major countries. That is how we destroy ISIS, not with American troops in perpetual warfare.”-Sanders
Sanders plainly talked about arming more people in the region to continue wars. I shouldn’t have to directly address how idiotic this statement is. This is classic US imperialistic policy, dating back to the Regan administration where the US convinced Egypt to send in criminals and prisoners to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan6. This policy has never worked out for the US or the civilians caught in the crossfire, yet Sanders is clearly stating he will continue down this decades old tradition of insanity.
We have a proxy conflict going on between Saudi Arabia and Iran.” -Clinton
The proxy war is not between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but the countries that back them. The true proxy war has been with the United States and Russia, or has it? The close relations between American and Russia in diplomacy may not be tenuous as they are put forth publicly. Both nations stand to gain quit a bit from these armed conflicts as far as resources and arm sales are concerned. At the very least it is a proxy war between the US and Russia. More likely, it is an intentional conflict, spun in the eyes of each counties’ respective news propaganda sources, to take focus away from those who are suffering and dieing due to these conflicts.
Equal Pay Myth
“…equal pay for women’s work…” -Clinton
The income disparity between men and women is mostly a myth. When accounting for men and women in the same roles and positions, they make the same income7. The false claim about income inequality between men and women was made by Obama as was well, during his 2014 State of the Union address, and was found to be “mostly false” by PolitiFact8. The major issue when dealing with wages between men and women is that women tend to not ask for higher paying positions or salaries, as shown in Kay and Shipman’s article The Confidence Gap published in The Atlantic9.
Women not asking for the wages they deserve may be an issue, but it’s not a political issue. It’s a social issue that must be solved through changes in education and society. It cannot be legislated away. Besides, there is already existing legislation on the books including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and the Fair Pay Act of 2009. Clinton is simply pandering to a female base, hoping to capture their allegiance by exploiting their own inadequacies and parroting known myth.
Funny Sound Bites
“Well, my relationship with [Putin], it’s – it’s interesting.” -Clinton
This was an obvious sound bite to be used on news satire such as John Oliver’s show. It may seem like an awkward, unscripted moment where Hillary stumbled and provided a point of comic relief. The audience laughed and the effect was intentional. I don’t believe for a moment that this wasn’t intentional.
After watching the debates, I feel as if any credit given to Sanders plays directly into the false narrative set fourth by both parties. Sanders is nothing new or revolutionary. It truly doesn’t matter if he gets the nomination because the overall policy under either him or Hillary will be identical. The elections are similar to American Idol and the music industry. They give people the illusion of choice when the results have already been agreed upon.
In 1981 when Ronald Regan became president of the United States, George H. W. Bush was his Vice President for two terms. Bush became president in 1988 for one term, followed by Clinton in 1992 for two terms. Although Hillary didn’t succeed in her bid for president, she was still Secretary of State until she stepped down in 2012. From the time I was born until 2012, there was always a Bush or a Clinton within four people of the line of succession for the Presidency of the United States. With two great houses having principal positions in the Federal Government for over two decades, the United States had the illusion of a democracy when, in reality, it was a monarchy.
“I understand that this is the hardest job in the world. I’m prepared and ready to take it on and I hope to earn your support to be the nominee of the Democratic Party and the next president of the United States.” -Clinton
The President of the United States if often refereed to as The Leader of the Free World. It’s a phrase that’s a throwback to the Cold War where the United States was seen as a pillar of capitalism against the threat of communism. It is insulting to every other free, democratic and sovereign nation to suggest that the United States is the leader of the free world. The statement speaks to a belief drilled into the psyche of the American people about the role of their nation’s hegemony.
The reality is the the United States is an Empire. The democratic national debates are a closed, media control propaganda delivery system that give the American people the illusion of debate when really all the potential leaders are on the exact same side with the same end goals of continued war, supporting industry and destabilizing nations that refuse to submit to American dominance.
Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984. 25 February 2003. Battle. The National Security Archive. ↩
For Many Iranians, the ‘Evidence’ Is Clear: ISIS Is an American Invention. 10 September 2014. Erdbrink. New York Times. ↩
Assad did not order Syria chemical weapons attack, says German press. 9 September 2003. Tisdall. The Guardian. ↩
The Power of Nightmares Part II: The Phantom Victory. 2004. Curtis. (Documentary Film) ↩
How every company in America can save 23% on wages. 30 April 2015. Maddox. ↩
Barack Obama ad says women are paid “77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men”. 21 June 2012. Jacobson. PolitiFact. ↩