To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Bernie Betrays Roosevelt-Wallace Legacy With Russia Stance

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BY JEREMY KUZMAROV

In its Sept. 9 issue, The Nation magazineran an interview with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who spoke about the need for the Democratic Party to be as bold as it was in the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Wallace.

Sanders specifically advocated for the reinvigoration of an economic bill of rights, which would guarantee a livable wage, free health care, and affordable education.

This latter program is honorable; however, the boldness of Roosevelt and Wallace’s platform rested as much with their foreign as their domestic policies.

Both Roosevelt and Wallace were strong advocates of peace with Russia which Bernie is not.

In 1933, the Roosevelt administration had revived diplomatic relations with the Stalin regime and then provided lend-lease aid to the Soviets as they heroically fought back against the Nazi invasion.

After the Nazi eastern offensive was pushed back at Stalingrad then at Kursk and the U.S. D-day landing, Roosevelt initiated a series of postwar summits which included Joseph Stalin. The most important occurred at Yalta in February 1945, in which the United States agreed not to interfere in Eastern Europe, where Russia was seeking to establish a buffer against any renewed German aggression after the war. In return, Russia agreed not to support left-wing guerrillas in Greece.

According to his son James, FDR succeeded in restraining war hawks in the State Department such as W. Averell Harriman, a founding partner of Brown Brothers Harriman and Co. investment banking firm, who opposed Yalta and wanted to initiate hostilities with the Russians.

Roosevelt’s vice-president, Henry Wallace, was a particularly strong advocate for sustaining peaceful relations with the Russians and averting a Cold War.

He traveled to Russia numerous times and found that the population was not hostile towards the United States and was war-weary and wanted peace, as did the Soviet leadership of the time.

Contrary to popular myth, Wallace was never an apologist for the abuses of the Soviet regime, but rather pointed out in his 1948 book, Towards World Peace, that it was seminally responsible for the defeat of Nazi Germany which should earn it the gratitude of everyone.

At the 1944 Democratic Party convention in Cleveland, Wallace was ousted from his position on the Roosevelt ticket in a blatant coup d’état masterminded by Democratic Party powerbrokers and big business interests in the back rooms.

Wallace in turn took up the position of Commerce Secretary in the Truman administration after Roosevelt’s death, though lost his job when he gave a memorable speech at Madison Square Gardens in which he called on the United Nations to assume control of the strategically located air bases in which “the United States and Britain [had] encircled the world.”

According to Wallace, “nations not only should be prohibited from manufacturing atomic bombs, guided missiles, and military aircraft for bombing purposes, but also prohibited from spending on its military more than 15% percent of its budget.” The United States, he said, could ensure cooperation with Russia if it made clear that “we are not planning for war with her” and had “no more business in the political affairs of Eastern Europe than Russia has in Latin America.”

Wallace ended his speech by calling on Americans who “look on this war with Russia talk as criminal foolishness … [to] carry our message direct to the people – even though we may be called communists because we dare to speak out.”

Now where is Sanders to match the boldness of Wallace and to denounce the Russophobes in his party who have helped provoke a senseless new arms race with Russia today? Or to say he will stand up with those voices demanding peace, at whatever the cost?

According to his website, Bernie been consistent in supporting economic sanctions and international pressure on Russia in an attempt to isolate it; a policy that Wallace and Roosevelt would have most certainly opposed.

He has routinely denounced Russian president Vladimir Putin, whom he calls an “anti-democratic authoritarian,” for engaging in “military adventurism in Ukraine and the Crimea” and for alleged election meddling in the United States.

At a rally in Kansas in 2018, Bernie criticized President Donald Trump for his border policy and being weak against Putinby saying, “We say to Trump, instead of showing us your strength by tearing children from their families, where was your strength in standing up to Putin and Russia for undermining American democracy?”

But did Putin and Russia actually undermine American democracy?

In July, a Clinton appointed Judge dismissed a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee [DNC] against the Trump campaign and Julian Assange for lack of evidence of election meddling, stating that the DNC’s accusations were “totally divorced from the facts asserted in the organization’s own complaint.”

Two years earlier, the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity [VIPS] found based on the speed of communication that a supposed Russian hack of Hillary Clinton’s emails was actually a leak carried out on the East Coast of the United States – findings that were ignored by the much vaunted Mueller investigation and by Sanders himself.

In rebuking Putin’s alleged military adventurism in Ukraine and Crimea, Sanders ignores the fact that Crimea was historically part of Russia and that its population overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia after the United States backed a coup d’états in Ukraine in February 2014 against the elected pro-Russian leader, Viktor Yanukovych.

Rather than Russia being the aggressor in Ukraine, evidence shows that it was the Obama administration that was the aggressor as it provided support to the coup plotters. Among them were far-right wing neo-Nazi elements who initiated false flag attacks and killed over 35 trade union activists supporting Yanukovych in Odessa. The Obama administration went on to provide considerable military aid and sent advisers to assist the Ukrainian military as it shelled the Eastern Ukrainian provinces seeking their autonomy, drawing the Russians in.

Bernie Sanders has mobilized many supporters by casting himself as an heir of the Roosevelt-Wallace tradition. However, if he wants to be true to that golden ticket, he ought to cease making false accusations against Russia and demand the restoration of peaceful relations as a precondition for cutting the military budget. The only candidate to truly follow in Roosevelt and Wallace’s legacy right now is Tulsi Gabbard. But she has been marginalized predictably by the powers that be – just like Wallace was in his day.

Jeremy Kuzmarov
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Tulsa resident Jeremy Kuzmarov is author of The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce, with John Marciano [New York: Monthly Review Press, 2018] and Obama's Endless Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State [Clarity Press, 2019].