By Nadia Ahmad, Marcy Winograd, and Hanieh Jodat Barnes
As DNC delegates for Bernie Sanders who cast our convention ballots for Sanders, we echo the call to elect the #BidenHarris ticket come November when, barring massive Republican voter suppression, we celebrate a new President and Vice President.
Now is not the time to sit out an election or tell Muslims who are decisive in battleground states that the outcome will not matter.
Now is the time to slam the door on Trumpian fascism that threatens to turn the military against protesters, sabotage free elections, exacerbate a pandemic, increase violent hate crimes against Muslims, decimate the post office, gut Social Security and Medicare, rip immigrant children from their mother’s arms, extend a discriminatory travel ban against majority-Muslim countries, steal more land from Palestinians, strip our country of environmental protections and start a hot war with Iran or China, or both.
In the run-up to the November election, however, we need to sow the seeds of a powerful multi-racial and ethnically diverse peace movement that challenges the foreign policy positions of the Democrats and the Republicans, for both parties subscribe to US exceptionalism that spawns obscene military budgets, wars for oil and colonial occupations that come back to haunt us—veterans with post-traumatic stress, militarized police forces, racism and xenophobia.
Granted, there are foreign policy differences between the Republican and Democratic Party tickets.
While Biden and Harris support treaties to control arms and nuclear proliferation, Trump abandons them – from the Iran Nuclear Deal that curbed Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that mandated the U.S. and Russia eliminate all nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles within a specific range to the Open Skies Treaty that allowed countries to fly over each other with sensor equipment to make sure neither is preparing for military intervention. Trump, who prefers tweets over treaties, has no use for international agreements to promote peace.
In a hopeful sign for progressives, voices advocating for diplomacy will host a DNC-related webinar, “Building Back Better: A Post Trump Foreign Policy” this Tuesday, August 18, 5:30-7:30 pm (ET) featuring Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who calls for strict adherence to the War Powers Resolution and “No more massive, unconstitutional, open-ended grants of military power to the president.”
Partnering organizations include Oxfam America Action Fund; Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft; Council for a Liveable World and Move On.
Still, as Democrats, we have work to do within our own party and within the broader intersectional movement for racial justice at home and abroad.
In an Open Letter to Joe Biden, over 450 DNC delegates from across the United States, urge Biden to hire new foreign policy advisors to replace those who in government pushed for invasions, occupations, and drone attacks against majority Muslim countries, only to later, once the advisors exited the White House, lobby for weapons and surveillance contractors.
Susan Rice, Antony Blinken, Avril Haines, Michele Flournoy, Nicholas Burns, Jake Sullivan, Samantha Power and Amit Jani are all described as demonstrating poor judgment on national security issues. Read their resumes:
Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense on Policy, board member of Booze Allen, a private equity firm invested in military contractors, top contender for Biden’s Secretary of Defense. Flournoy co-founded the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a right-wing think tank that advocates for expansion of the military budget, preparation for multiple simultaneous large-theater wars, pre-emptive strikes and escalated troop deployments for war games in the waters off China. Flournoy was a senior advisor to the Boston Consulting Group that lobbies on behalf of arms merchants seeking government contracts. With Flournoy on board, the company’s military contracts ballooned from $1.6 million to $32 million in three years. After the House and Senate passed the War Powers Resolutions urging an end to United States involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and weeks after the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist critical of Saudi leadership, Flournoy argued in January 2019, to continue arming the Saudis for their assault on Yemen, a country in the grips of a humanitarian crisis.
Avril Haines, former Deputy Director of the CIA and Deputy National Security Advisor, drew up weekly kill lists for drone operations targeting multiple Middle Eastern countries, including Pakistan, where the ominous sound of drone bombers terrorize tribal territories, and over Afghanistan wherein 2008 drone bombers killed 37 members of a wedding party, mostly women and children, leading President Hamid Karzi to plead with President Obama to stop the drone strikes. “We cannot win the fight against terrorism with airstrikes — this is my first demand of the new president of the United States — to put an end to civilian casualties.” Haines, former Deputy Director of the CIA was part of the team that redacted the Senate’s landmark report on Bush-era torture, and until recently worked for Palantir, a tech company that partners with ICE to digitally profile immigrants for deportation.
Samantha Power, a former United Nations ambassador, and Jake Sullivan, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton, helped persuade then-President Obama to intervene militarily in Libya and to provide the Saudis with arms to go to war on Yemen.
Susan E. Rice, a former fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued for military intervention in Iraq, repeating the Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction. She and Flournoy persuaded President Obama to intervene militarily in Libya, a disastrous decision that devolved Libya into chaos resulting in the creation of an arms pipeline for extremists across the Middle East. Rice argued for US military intervention in Syria also, presiding over a CIA arms-to-rebels program “Operation Timber Sycamore,” a billion dollar secret CIA war in Syria that congressional critics said funneled weapons to extremists aligned with Al Queda.
Amit Jani, Asian American Pacific Islanders Outreach Coordinator, celebrated on Facebook India’s authoritarian Prime Minister Modi, long-shunned and once banned in the U.S., who oversees violent persecution of India’s minority Muslim population, stripping nearly 2-million of citizenship, overseeing the construction of mass detention centers for India’s Muslim population; denying Kashmir statehood.
Antony Blinken, longtime Senate foreign policy aide and former Deputy National Security Advisor, co-founder of WestExec Advisors with Flournoy. Blinken’s company pitched the Pentagon on awarding military contracts to Silicon Valley companies to develop facial recognition software for drone warfare. In a briefing with the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) last May, Blinken said Biden “would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions that it makes. Period. Full stop.”
In conjunction with the DNC delegates’ letter, another 50 notable scholars, authors and human rights advocates have issued a similar letter to Biden. Among the signatories are Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower; Noam Chomsky, Author: “Hegemony or Survival; America’s Quest for Global Dominance; Dr. Hatem Bazian, Executive Director, Islamophobia Studies Center; Richard Faulk, UN Special Rapporteur in occupied Palestine; Estee Chandler, Board Chair, Jewish Voice for Peace-Action and the 4-thousand member organization Military Families Speak Out whose mission is to advocate for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq and Afghanistan.
If we want to avoid the failed policies of the past that brought us, Trump, if we hope to prevent an even more dangerous Trump, someone equally sinister but less buffoonish, we must urge Biden to hire advisors who are not part of a revolving door of former White House staffers in the service of the weapons and surveillance industry, to reject anyone who pushed for disastrous military interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen and to recruit visionary foreign policy experts from progressive think tanks: Institute for Policy Studies, Progressive International, Quincy Institute, Just Foreign Policy, and Demand Progress to lead us in a new direction that embraces diplomacy and global cooperation in the face of an immediate security threat: climate catastrophe.
To stop further global warming-the Pentagon being the largest institutional emitter of carbon dioxide, to prevent world famine and massive population displacement, we must mobilize to oust Trump from the White House, but at the same time demand, Biden hire new foreign policy advisors. Beyond the Beltway, beyond organizing Senators, like Murphy, to lead a Senate charge to deny cabinet appointments to Flournoy, Haines, Power or Rice, we need to link the Black Lives Matter Movement with the peace movement to redefine the meaning of liberty and justice for all.
Nadia Ahmad, DNC FL Delegate for Bernie Sanders; Co-founder Muslim Delegates and Allies Coalition
Marcy Winograd, DNC CA Delegate for Bernie Sanders; Co-founder, Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party.
Hanieh Jodat Barnes, DNC CA Delegate for Bernie Sanders; Co-founder of Muslim Delegates and Allies Coalition