As Joe Biden gets his presidential campaign against Donald Trump in full swing, concerns grow within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that the foreign policy and political outreach teams he has assembled are nowhere near reflecting the change – and reducing military spending – they hope, after the elections seen in November.
The unrest is mounting, as is Senator Bernie Sanders, whom many of the dissidents support express privately Doubts about the direction of the Biden campaign and calls on the former Vice President to reach more to the left. But Sanders has said little about foreign policy or national security since Biden received the nomination and left the floor to Democratic activists.
They are particularly concerned about the influence of people like Antony Blink, the senior foreign policy advisor to the Biden campaign. He was Biden’s best adviser when, in 2002, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, he approved the use of force in Iraq.
“We don’t want the same people who led us into the Iraq war to be the administrators of our foreign policy,” he says Marcy Winograd, a longtime Santa Barbara antiwar activist who was elected as a Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention in an interview in August. “Why would Biden want these people to advise him? You think he wants to keep as much distance as possible between himself and people who have steered him in the wrong direction in the past. ”
Voices like hers are a sizeable presence within the party. Over 400 delegates signed during the online congress an open letter to Biden Ask him to “hire new foreign policy advisors” and ensure that they “have a track record of advocating and implementing diplomatic solutions rather than catastrophic military interventions involving invasions, occupations, torture and drone strikes.”
Meanwhile, a group of Muslim-Americans, including many supporters of Sanders, have come out with criticism Farooq Mitha, a former Pentagon official who is Bidens senior advisor on Muslim-American engagement. His high profile presence in the campaign, along with other former defense officials, has Splits the Muslim community and distracts from the need to draw the military budget into technologies to combat climate change, said Nadia Ahmad, a Sanders trailer from Florida. “This is our biggest national security challenge,” said Ahmad, professor of environmental law in Orlando The nation. Mitha declined to comment.
In addition to blinking, democratic activists have focused on it Michèle Flournoy, a former Pentagon official and military investor allegedly planned to become Minister of Defense; and Avril Haines, the former assistant director of the Central Intelligence Agency who will lead the foreign affairs side of Biden’s transition team if he wins. you manufactured President Obama’s policies on drone warfare, as well as the government’s tough stance on North Korea Biden promised to revive.
Blinken and the Biden team did not respond to the criticism. But in the past it did blink characterized The 2002 resolution on Iraq called “Vote for Hard Diplomacy” while Biden said his “mistake” in the Iraq war was the assumption that President Bush “would properly use the authority we have given him”. (Blinken did not return any emails looking for a comment.)
But politics isn’t the only problem: Biden’s critics have also focused on his advisors’ links to the military-industrial complex, which are deeply rooted.
After leaving the government, Blinken and Flournoy created WestExec consultant, a “strategic advisory firm” that works closely with military contractors and was modeled on the high-performing advisory firm developed by Henry Kissinger during the Cold War. according to to a current profile in The American perspective. Their influence within the Democratic Party is considerable.
Flournoy, who is also sitting on that the board of directors Booz Allen Hamilton, a secret service advisor, was an advisor to Vice-Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris, as was the director of WestExec Matt Olsen, the former director of the Obama National Counter-Terrorism Center. Haines, the former CIA officer who leads the transition team, is also a principal at WestExec.
Winograd, a retired teacher who ran for congress three times in Los Angeles, including twice against former Democratic representative Jane Harman, spearheads efforts to pressure Biden not to appoint Flournoy. Your possible nomination for the Pentagon was approved Earlier this month by Conservative columnist George Will.
In communicating with Democrats, Winograd has a particular focus on Flournoy’s role as co-founder of the Center for a New American Securitythat was made during the Obama years a champion of the counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan. Under Flournoy, CNAS also became one of the most Hawkish voices Confront China. (In June Flournoy recommended in the Foreign Affairs that the United States “should have the ability to credibly threaten to sink all Chinese military ships, submarines and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours” in order to deter Chinese leaders from aggressive military action.)
“This is a woman who is a war profiteer, is well invested in militarism, and will expand the military rather than de-escalate on the world stage,” says Winograd. “Flournoy is a dangerous person and should not be considered a Secretary of Defense.”
The conservative stance towards Biden’s foreign policy team was also the driving force behind that Coalition of Muslim Delegates and Allies, a new group that “seeks to ensure full consultation and coordination with Muslim constituencies in the United States.” Several of its members have spearheaded the attacks on Mitha, the Biden adviser, whose role in the campaign created a schism within the Muslim community of democratic voters.
Mitha is one of the co-founders of Emgage USA, the largest Muslim contact group in the country, which Sanders supported during elementary school but later threw his support after Biden. In July the former vice president addressed the group held a “Million Muslim Votes Summit” online. Although Mitha has severed his formal association with Emgage, he remains closely connected to the organization through his family. The electronic intifada reported on the 9th of September.
Tensions over Mitha and Emgage escalated in August after Biden campaign officials declined Statements by the Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour in favor of the BDS movement, which supports boycott, alienation and sanctions against Israel. That prompted a heated meeting between Muslim and Palestinian leaders, including Mitha and members of Emgage, and Blinken. At that meeting, some attendees were angry because Blinken, while expressing “regret,” did not offer an apology, according to Ahmad, the Florida Sanders supporter who was on the call.
On Tuesday, Ahmad and other members of the Muslim delegation group released one “Open Letter to Muslim Leaders” Ask them to “Drop Emgage” and ask the Biden campaign to remove Mitha from his position with the campaign. As part of their case, they accused Mitha and another Emgage leader of “trying to get concessions in the form of more appointments in the Biden campaign and / or transition team instead of a public apology. One such apology was the specific request made by Palestinian, Arab and Muslim American leaders and activists. ”
Over 100 leaders and activists from Muslim communities signed the letter, including Palestinian activists, Sanders supporters, academics and members of the Democratic Socialists of America. They accused Mitha and other “high-ranking” Emgage officials and board members of working “in lockstep” with AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, which they said was “deeply Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian.” The letter also cited Mitha’s work “in the Pentagon during the Obama administration, which helped normalize relations between Israel and Arab nations under the banner of” Track II diplomacy. ”
Wa’el Alzayat, the CEO of Emgage, issued a statement on The nation strong problem with the letter. Although not responding directly to the volatile charges against AIPAC, Alzayat said Emgage “is heavily focused on generating Muslim American voters”.
This work, he said, “was and will be essential to retaking the White House in 2020. And, to put it another way, it undermines the efforts of organizers and activists who are part of our Million Muslim Votes campaign.” He added that Emgage “played a vital role in the election of Muslim Americans to public office,” including raising funds to support Representative Rashida Tlaib’s recent re-election campaign praised Emgage as “incredibly important”.
Ahmad, who was in active get the voice out for Biden in Florida The nation that the criticism of Mitha and Emgage reflects the desire of progressive Muslim Americans to motivate voters who are concerned about the effects of militarism and climate change on their states and communities.
“There needs to be people at the head of the Biden campaign who understand the nuances and concerns of our community, rather than identifying with lobby groups of special interest, especially if they work for military contractors or work in the Pentagon,” she said.
Ahmad praised Biden’s promise to “rebuild better” by investing $ 2 trillion in US infrastructure, and said so The nation that much larger amounts – from $ 8 to 10 trillion – are needed. “I see a decrease in our military spending as vital for the country and the planet,” she said. If Biden is serious about fighting climate change, he would hire a “cadre of environmental justice activists. Bernie supporters feel betrayed in many ways. ”
Could Biden follow suit? Possibly: The weekend fires devastated California and Oregon, him tweeted“The science is clear and deadly signs like the fires in the west are unmistakable – climate change poses an existential threat to our way of life.”
But any chance that Biden could cut military spending significantly was in one way dampened interview he admitted Stars and Stripes. “I do not think so [defense budget cuts] are inevitable, but we need budget priorities, ”Biden told the military newspaper. “I have met with a number of my consultants and some have suggested increasing the budget in certain areas.”