There’s a tendency for people to point to foreign policy issues as one of Hillary’s strengths. People get the impression that she has a lot of experience with foreign policy, while Bernie always tries to change the discussion to the domestic sphere. This is taken as a sign that Bernie doesn’t know what he’s doing on foreign policy, or is somehow not even conversant in the subject. But that’s clearly not the case. He took action on a number of foreign policy issues as the mayor of Burlington for goodness sake! It’s clearly something he cares a lot and knows a lot about.
So then why aren’t we hearing much about how Bernie’s foreign policy would diverge from current Democratic orthodoxy? I think it’s a political calculation. I think that Sanders and his team have realized that the economic and political corruption issues are what really plays with people, and decided to focus on that message. Meanwhile, if Bernie discussed the real ways his foreign policy would be enormously different from the status quo, it would spark a major discussion about America’s role in the world, and it would be a discussion in which Bernie’s position is less overwhelmingly popular, and which would give him powerful additional enemies while not really firing up his base all that much more. So he’s just keeping his mouth shut.
What would these crazy foreign policy differences be? Well consider: there are a whole raft of international organizations whose mission is essentially to push neoliberalism in the developing world. The US has big voting shares in the World Bank and the IMF. Combine that with the direct influence played by the United States, and you have a major shift in the global economic order. Consider the intelligence community. Sanders is not going to keep appointing the same old people to head these agencies like Obama did. Obviously he can’t break their power immediately, but the fact of having a Sanders appointed head at the top will be a huge deal.
This is an area where a President has a huge amount of power, and can do a huge amount of good. Some of the most revolutionary aspects of a Sanders Presidency are barely being talked about.