Don’t Be Bamboozled by “Bernie the Bomber” Bombast

Bernie the Bomber’s Bad Week” by the late Will Miller is perhaps the most quoted and most-cited piece of ‘left’ criticism of Bernie Sanders and therefore deserves serious scrutiny. At first glance “Bernie the Bomber’s Bad Week” appears to be a muckracking exposé but a closer inspection reveals that it is riddled with embarrassing contradictions and is written with as much respect for the facts as the average Fox News story on President Barack Obama.

It is time to set the record straight on this piece of yellow journalism and expose the exposers before anyone else is bamboozled.

Gulf War and Iraq Sanctions

Claim: “Bernie became an imperialist to get elected in 1990. In August, 1990 — after the Bush administration enticed Iraq into invading Kuwait — Sanders said he wasn’t ‘going to let some damn war cost him the election,’ according to a staff member who was present at the time. So Sanders backed the buildup in the Persian Gulf and dumped on the left anti-imperialist peace movement, singling out his former allies like Dave Dellinger for public criticism. … After being safely elected in November of 1990, Bernie continued to support the buildup while seeking membership in the Democratic Congressional Caucus — with the enthusiastic support of the Vermont Democratic Party leadership. But, the national Democratic Party blew him off, so he finally voted against the war and returned home — and as the war began — belatedly claimed to be the leader of the anti-war movement in Vermont. … Sanders continues to support sanctions even though the Iraqi body count has now passed 1.5 million.”

Fact: Sanders’ positions on Iraq’s 1990 occupation of Kuwait and the subsequent U.S.-led 1991 Gulf War had nothing to do with Democratic Party. From day one, Sanders supported getting Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait without going to war and voted against the use of force.

Furthermore, Sanders signed an open letter calling for the murderous sanctions on Iraq to end.

Simply put, Miller lied about Sanders’ stand on sanctions and twisted a good vote against the Gulf War into an act of evil born of opportunism. But lying is the least of Miller’s crimes; in the quote above, he blamed the Bush administration for ‘enticing’ Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait. So Miller would have us believe that Saddam Hussein — one of the most vicious tyrants in the history of the Middle East — was a helpless victim duped by the big bad U.S. government while the real bad guy we need to worry about is Bernie Sanders.

Kosovo and Activist Arrests

Claim: “Sanders as the self-appointed moderator/boss opened the evening [of a town meeting] with naked self-justification. ‘It is a very complex situation…’ followed by the ritual of demonization of Milosevic — a technique he has perfected over the last eight years on Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Then he presented the false dilemma that the only alternative to bombing is doing nothing. Sanders said his situation was the same as that of Joschka Fischer’s of the Green Party, Germany’s Foreign Minister, who has outraged his Green Party membership by supporting the bombing his coalition government is carrying out as part of NATO. … Apparently, with all the college and universities in Vermont, Bernie had to travel far into flatlander territory to find an academic willing to support his ‘bomb now, talk later’ position. … The overwhelming majority of the people present were against Sander’s support for the bombing. Even with all his attempts to control the meeting, the people had at him for more than an hour and a half. He was denounced for his selling out to the Empire and it’s war machine and for his support for the 9 year old war against Iraq and his active support for every US intervention since he has been in Congress – Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Liberia, Zaire (Congo), Albania, Sudan, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.”

Sanders’ position can hardly be described as ‘bomb now, talk later’ when it was the Yugoslav government’s ‘kill now, talk later’ stance that precipitated the crisis to begin with. Yugoslavia walked away from international talks on Kosovo and escalated their murderous war on Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority. Sanders felt that the only way to stop Yugoslav military forces from continuing to expel the ethnic Albanian population after diplomacy failed was to use military force while at the same time re-doubling diplomatic efforts.

Events proved Sanders right right. After 78 days of bombing and intense diplomatic maneuvering behind the scenes, Yugoslavia capitulated and 95% of Kosovo refugees that fled the fighting returned home within a year.

As for Miller’s gripe about being arrested at Sanders’ office, isn’t the whole point of civil disobedience to get arrested and thereby draw attention to a cause? Miller himself even admitted the arrests took place “at 6:30 PM, one half hour after closing time” of the office. So the proof that Sanders “lurched to the right,” joined the political establishment, and betrayed the peace movement is that his staff wanted to go home instead of camping out at their workplace all night long to serve as unpaid babysitters for protesters too unreasonable to come back the next day? The only thing more laughable is the notion that Sanders is so gung-ho for war that he not only ‘actively supported’ U.S. military actions in Iraq (nevermind his voting record) but also in places where it never occurred like Albania.

This is crackpot leftism at its worst.

Democratic Party Hypocrisy

The Democratic Party eventually got tired of having its teeth kicked in at the polls by Bernie Sanders and gave up running against him. Instead of hailing this humiliating surrender by the Democratic Party to an avowed democratic socialist as a victory for politics independent of the two-party system, Miller bemoans the absence of Democratic Party candidates running against Sanders and sings the praises of the ‘unauthorized’ Democratic Congressional candidate Delores Sandoval– all while accusing Sanders of selling out to the Democratic Party! If there were a way to quantify and measure hypocrisy, Miller’s remarks on this issue would score off the charts.

Liberty Who?

Hardly anyone who cites “Bernie the Bomber’s Bad Week” as a damning indictment of Sanders bothers to study it closely much less investigates the website it is hosted on which belongs to the Liberty Union Party. The Liberty Union Party and Sanders have a long history:

Bernie Sanders was the Liberty Union’s first candidate for governor, receiving 1% of the vote in 1972. Martha Abbott, Progressive Coalition candidate for Burlington City Council in 1992 and key campaign coordinator in Sanders’ 1990 Congressional race, won 5% in 1974. Sanders was again the candidate in 1976 and reached 6%. Sanders concluded that the Liberty Union Party had lost momentum and was at a dead end. He resigned as chair and from the Party in 1976. The Party dropped to 3% in 1978 and has generally hovered below 1% since then. The Liberty Union has developed into a tiny club of idealists with no interest in gaining political power.

Not only did Liberty Union Party have no interest in gaining political power, they tried to block Sanders from gaining or wielding such power on behalf of working people by running against him in almost a dozen elections starting in the 1980s. Since the publication of “Bernie the Bomber’s Bad Week” there have been four elections for Liberty Union Party and the Will Millers of Vermont to make their case about Sanders to the voters. Here are the results:

Gubernatorial Election, 1986

  • Bernie Sanders (I) – 28,418 (14.4%)
  • Richard Gottlieb (LU) – 491 (0.2%)

Congressional Election, 1988

  • Bernie Sanders (I) – 90,026 (37.5%)
  • Peter Diamondstone (LU) – 1,455 (0.6%)

Congressional Election, 1990

  • Bernie Sanders (I) – 117,522 (56%)
  • Peter Diamondstone (LU) – 1,965 (0.9%)

Congressional Election, 1992

  • Bernie Sanders, (I) – 162,724 (57.78%)
  • Peter Diamondstone, (LU) – 3,660 (1.30%)

Congressional Election, 1994

  • Bernie Sanders (I) – 105,502 (49.8%)
  • Annette Larson (LU) – 1,493 (0.7%)

Congressional Election, 1996

  • Bernie Sanders (I) – 140,678 (55.2%)
  • Peter Diamondstone (LU) – 1,965 (0.7%)

Congressional Election, 1998

  • Bernie Sanders (I) – 136,403 (63.4%)
  • Pete Diamondstone (LU) – 2,153 (1.0%)

Congressional Election, 2002

Congressional Election, 2004

  • Bernie Sanders (I) – 205,774 (67.4%)
  • Jane Newton (LU) – 261 (0.0%)

Senate Election, 2006

  • Bernie Sanders (Independent) – 171,638 (65.4%)
  • Peter Diamondstone (LU) – 801 (0.3%)

Senate Election, 2012

  • Bernie Sanders (Independent) – 207,848 (71.0%)
  • Peter Diamondstone (LU) – 2,511 (0.86%)

The people of Vermont have clearly and repeatedly rejected this ‘left’ critique of Bernie ‘the bomber’ Sanders and it is not hard to see why:

Will Miller’s and Liberty Union Party’s petty-bourgeois radicalism consists of little more than moral outrage and empty gestures (not to mention Saddam Hussein apologism), none of which resonates with or excites working-class Vermonters who rightly and overwhelmingly see Bernie Sanders as their champion.

24 responses to “Don’t Be Bamboozled by “Bernie the Bomber” Bombast

  1. Bernie Sander’s “foreign policy” is certainly one of the more underwhelming and IMO, bad parts about him. Admittedly overall I’m not impressed by the guy and don’t see myself helping out his campaign or voting for him. I’ll still vote third party or just wait out this election which at 26, I probably should start doing😛


    • Just for your information, the whole “I don’t vote” crapola I added at the end isn’t true and was said in the moment, I haven’t been won over by Sanders, even if I like how he’s elevated the dialogue in this country, he’s not the candidate for me, he has too much baggage and I don’t trust the guy.


  2. PW,

    Sir/Madam: you have a quality website – well thought out and well researched posts.

    So my first point is: where do you get all this information? I am a Sanders supporter and consider myself fairly well informed, and yet you obviously are much better informed. How are you so familiar with different aspects of the Sanders career, positions and legislative history?

    Secondly, specifically regarding foreign policy. I have to agree with your commenter above that this the one area where Sanders’s worldview seems generally mainstream. Yes – he does advocate more restraint in using military force, but this is usually couched in terms of caution and unknown consequences rather than a matter of principle.

    To take a recent specific example – what do you think about his North Korea position? My view.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind words.🙂

      1. I started researching Sanders early in 2015 before he even decided to run. I read “The People’s Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution” by Greg Guma, “Radicals in Power: The New Left Experience in Office” by Eric Leif Davin, “Challenging The Boundaries of Reform: Socialism in Burlington” by W. J. Conroy, and “Outsider in the House” by Sanders, and “Building Progressive Politics: The Vermont Story” by Terry Bouricius to learn as much in-depth information I could find about Sanders’ record as mayor of Burlington. I also spent hours every day, five days a week, for months scouring the internet via Google looking for information relating to his time as mayor and his record in Congress. In the course of this research, I discovered 80s and 90s-era videos of him speaking about various topics which I uploaded to my YouTube channel and purchased his audio documentary about Eugene Debs.

      After many, many months of intensive study, I decided to start writing about what I discovered. I made sure to read both supportive and critical pieces about Sanders to try to understand all sides of various issues like his foreign policy and why he voted a certain way on a certain bill. As a public official for almost 40 years, he has a very long paper trail and there’s quite a few C-Span videos of his time in Congress. Sorting through all of this information is pretty time-consuming but I had a pretty big head start compared to 99% of the Sanderistas who only found about him in summer/fall of 2015.

      2. In terms of Sanders’ foreign policy, his approach is laid out here:

      I certainly wouldn’t describe his internationalist, democratic socialist foreign policy as mainstream but I guess it could appear to be mainstream if you don’t really understand the thought process he uses to arrive at end positions.

      In terms of North Korea, North Korea testing/possessing nuclear weapons and launching ballistic missiles in and of themselves are not belligerent acts. But it’s not just these actions — North Korean propaganda routinely threatens to attack South Korea, to wipe out U.S. troops, and so on and so forth. North Korea routinely fires artillery onto South Korean soil, torpedoes South Korean boats, hacks computers of Western companies, and so on and so forth. North Korea broke its agreement with the U.S. re: nuclear power and weapons in the early 2000s.

      The reason why Sanders doesn’t embrace demilitarization or lifting sanctions on North Korea is because North Korea has been engaged in acts of aggression and belligerence for many, many decades despite good-faith efforts by the U.S., South Korea, and others to defuse tensions and resolve disputes peacefully. This is a big reason why North Korea is completely isolated in the international community — even its patron, China, can’t publicly condone its behavior.

      How would you propose we deal with a state that routinely attacks its neighbors and kidnaps the citizens of other countries?


      • Obviously your hard work paid off in terms of becoming highly informed. Congratulations!

        Regarding foreign policy: I am not particularly familiar with the policies of North Korea, and I am not that interested in them. For the sake of the discussion, let’s assume that you are indeed correct and indeed NK engages in belligerent rhetoric and the rest of the acts you allege, and let’s assume that those acts could in theory be used as a reasonable justification for sanctions. Yet all of those allegations are essentially absent from Sanders’s justification for the sanctions. He specifically and repeatedly talks about the nuclear weapons and missile programs. So, at best, he is explaining his reasoning very poorly. More likely, it seems to me, that he implicitly accepts the standard US stance that the US has the standing to decide which countries get to develop nuclear weapons and/or missile technology.

        (Of course, if behavior such as you allege about NK were good ground for sanctions, then the US should have been under sanctions for many decades.)

        The situation with Iran is similar. Yes, Sanders supports the Obama deal, but his rhetoric is always about Iran having to abide conditions imposed on it by the US and the other signatories. What is the justification for imposing conditions on Iran?

        And, to look at another side of this issue, what about Israel’s nuclear weapons? Does he ever criticize Israel for having nuclear weapons? Does he suggest imposing sanctions on Israel (or at least ceasing to provide military, financial and political support)?


      • He talks about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles because those are really a lot more dangerous than shooting South Korean ships and shelling their border posts. If North Korea can get a reasonably accurate ballistic missile mounted with a nuclear weapon, they could threaten Tokyo with annihilation tomorrow just as they threaten Seoul today with conventional warfare.

        You seem confused about the nuclear issue. The entire international community is against North Korea having and testing these weapons, including all of North Korea’s neighbors who are all party to international sanctions. It is a similar situation with Iran — the sanctions regime surrounding the nuclear program was the product of international diplomacy, not unilateral action by the U.S. The justification is that you really don’t want any state in the Middle East having nuclear weapons; if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia will try to get one too. And if Saudi Arabia gets one, Iran will try to get 2. It will trigger a nuclear arms race in a region wracked by instability and terrorism and you really don’t want regimes that overtly sponsor terrorism like Iran getting that kind of weaponry.

        Israel officially doesn’t claim to have nuclear weapons and therefore Sanders can’t really officially comment on the unofficial policies/secret weapons programs of other countries. If you read the piece I linked about Sanders’ foreign policy you’ll see a video where he talks about reducing and moving away from military aid to Israel.

        Nuclear non-proliferation is a progressive policy and progressives have been championing it since the 1950s.

        Liked by 1 person

      • > Israel officially doesn’t claim to have nuclear weapons and therefore Sanders can’t really officially comment on the unofficial policies/secret weapons programs of other countries.

        Huh? Iran categorically denies having or even pursuing nuclear weapons. (Israel, by the way, doesn’t.)


      • Yes, Iran officially denies it but the International Atomic Energy Agency has found evidence that they were trying to develop a covert nuclear weapons program. That’s why the U.S., Russia, and other major powers united to twist Iran’s arm and get a nuclear deal done.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, to me this kind of explanations – applying double and triple standards – is exactly what I have been talking about. This is essentially repeating official US positions.

        I’ll drop this issue at this point, before the discussion becomes rancorous. We clearly agree on much and obviously even on foreign policy Sanders is much better than the credible electoral alternatives.


      • If that’s the case then it’s because official U.S. positions are actually well-thought out. A county’s foreign policy towards X nation cannot be identical to its policy towards Y nation when X and Y they are not even in remotely comparable situations. Your policy of letting North Korea and Iran openly wield nuclear weapons because Israel has them on the sly would put millions of Koreans, Japanese, Israeli, and Arab lives at risk and would garner zero international support from nations (other than North Korea and Iran).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What about the use of depleted uranium bombs in Yugoslavia, which doubled the cancer mortality rate in Serbia and significantly increased it in neighbouring countries?


  4. Hi PW,

    First, I want to thank you for sharing the many hours of research you have done on Sanders. As many others, I have become intensely fascinated with his presidential campaign. Listening to him, I feel he is speaking from the heart and is truly authentic as opposed to most any other politician. So incredibly inspiring!

    I am delving into his past, like you did, to see if there are any “skeletons in the closet” and have read a number of critical articles but this “Bomber Bernie” was one of the most scathing. After reading it, i really began to have certain doubts. I then found your response which rebutted several important points made by Miller.
    But not all…
    And i want to ask you about the points which you for some reason did not address. It leaves the question that perhaps the other allegations are true.

    1. “As a Congressman in Vermont he has allied himself the
    MIA/POW crowd, the American Legion and the VFW, the very groups that
    red baited him as Mayor. At the same time he and his staff “forget”
    to invite the Green Mountain Veteran’s for Peace–the only anti-
    imperialist veterans group in the state–to his sponsored Veterans

    Do you know anything about this “forgetfulness?”

    2. “Bernie regularly rides out with the rest of the Vermont
    Congressional delegation defending the military contracts in Vermont
    against cuts by the Pentagon.”

    3. ”Indeed, when challenged publicly about his failure to help build
    a left alternative to the major capitalist parties, Sanders claims
    he is now too busy with his work in Congress to be

    4. ”Sanders also voted to extradite Assata Shakur from Cuba in violation of the existing treaties with Cuba.”

    5. “Recently, Bernie championed in Congress the dumping
    of Vermont’s nuclear waste near Sierra Blanca, Texas, a low income
    border community with a mostly Latino population that is overwhelmingly
    opposed to the dump project.”

    6. Perhaps the most unnerving thing to read in Miller’s article – and unadressed by you – was the *way* that Town Hall meeting was held, with he himself as moderator etc. Miller writes:
    ”Sanders was repeatedly unresponsive to questions put to him. He(sic) evasiveness and arrogance did not serve him well.”

    I would very much like to to hear your responses on these points! It will help me immensely in countering negative left-criticism.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Dana,

    I’m glad you like my work. Let me respond as best I can to what you’re raising:

    1. There are two parts to this complaint — that Sanders is too friendly with right-wing veterans groups and that his staff doesn’t invite ‘anti-imperialist’ Veterans for Peace groups to his veterans’ events.

    Let me address the second of these first. Given the tone of the mad-bomber article (the author was a member of the Veterans for Peace group in question), I’m not sure inviting a group that is hostile and nasty to one’s public forums is a great idea. Barring them from attending a public event I think would be wrong, but I don’t see any evidence that Veterans for Peace was forbidden from attending. Most people — politicians or not — do not invite actively hostile and/or disruptive groups to their public events because most people do not knowingly engage in self-sabotage.

    Second, VFW is a mass organization with tens of thousands of members, not a fringe group of maybe dozens and so Sanders built a relationship with them because he has been a fierce advocate of veterans’ issues. In fact, he was so effective at that that VFW gave him its highest award in 2015:

    Unlike Will Miller, Sanders does not have an ideological litmus test that a group has to pass with flying colors before he decides to work with them on an issue they agree on. The fact that a right-wing group gave a democratic socialist its highest award I think is an achievement to be celebrated, not condemned. Should Sanders have refused to bring the progressive message to Liberty University by refusing to address the students and faculty there because the school is pro-life and anti-gay as well?

    2. It’s unclear what Sanders is supposed to do re: military contracts, vote down the entire defense budget every time, all the time? That would mean voting against V.A. funding and budget increases for military families. (For more on this issue, see:

    Sanders’ record on military contractor corruption is pretty good:

    3. Sanders has been instrumental in getting this country’s only successful third party — the Vermont Progressive Party — off the ground. Full history of that here:

    4. Violation of existing treaties with Cuba? What treaties? Obama just normalized relations and Assata Shakur is a convicted felon who fled the country to avoid serving her sentence. People who are innocent or wrongfully convicted have the right to appeal under our system and she should have done so if she was actually innocent (she wasn’t).

    5. Sierra Blanca was never “overwhelmingly opposed” to the project, more like split 50-50 on its merits:

    Here is what Sanders said before he cast his vote:

    The nuclear waste in question wasn’t going to be spent fuel rods but stuff like medical gloves used in radiation treatments in hospitals:

    And in the final analysis, the dump was never built.

    6. Since there’s no video of the event in question, we have know way of knowing whether or not this is true. But given Sanders’ record for telling it as it is and Miller’s documented record of lying and distorting, I’m skeptical of Miller’s claim.

    Hope that helps!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, thanks a lot!🙂
    You really answered all the points I had. (I had already read about the well-intentioned reasons why he voted for the controversial Crime Act.)

    Considering that few people are saints, what would you say are Bernie’s weaknesses from what all you have learned so far, both related to the issues and as a public person ( e.g. ability to cooperate with others, to listen)? What could he improve do you think?

    My personal wish is that he would emphasize more the underlying causes of terrorism like lack of education, poverty and belligerent and denigrating behavior from the part of the US. Groups like ISIS need to resisted definitely, but at the same time i believe it would defuse so much if the US were to invest in a major way in poor countries’ infrastructure, schools, health care etc. We would make so many friends and the radicals would see their numbers dwindle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, well I would hardly describe Sanders as a saint. He’s just not corrupt or cynically opportunist like 99.9999% of politicians in the American political system. He only smells like roses because everyone else smells like shit.

      In terms of shortcomings and weaknesses, there are many:

      1. Back in April 2015, we argued that he needed to really strengthen his focus onracial justice and #BlackLivesMatter, many months before he was (unjustly) trolled by some ultra-left BLMers in the summer of that year. Unfortunately, he will continue to lose the Black vote because he simply does not have the time to create a decades-long relationship with the Black community that would allow him to compete with Clinton on an even playing field for their votes.

      2. I don’t agree with his support for the NATO air campaign over Kosovo. I understand his reasons and his stand point but I think it was a mistake.

      3. Re: ISIS and your point re: foreign aid, he believes all of that but he generally doesn’t talk about it much due to time constraints. You can read more on his foreign policy approach here and in this video he gets into some of those issues:

      4. I think his biggest shortcoming is being stubborn or unwilling/unable to adapt or change. I suppose that’s the flip side of saying and believing the same things today as you did 30 or 50 years ago.

      I think this inability to shift became pretty apparent starting in October of 2015 when Clinton started framing him as the progressive who got nothing done and then capitalized on that at the ballot box by winning older voters by YOOJ margins. Instead of shifting to take Clinton on re: pragmatism, he doubled-down on his “yes we can”/”think big” message which is great for voters age 30 and under but does not resonate at all for older voters who make up a disproportionately large percentage of the electorate. He should be pointing out how he got more done in the Senate in his first 8 years than she did in her first 8 years; he should be going on offensive over the fact that she has no plan (realistic or otherwise) to get things done or defeat GOP obstructionism.

      His strong (headstrong) personality is more suited to being in the executive rather than the legislative branch of government. I also think he gets a lot of satisfaction personally in being a hands-on problem-solver. As mayor, people would call him in the middle of the night about snow plowing, he would pick up trash, and so on and as president he could do a lot day-to-day to improve the lives of working people through executive action and control over the federal bureaucracy.


  7. Pingback: Bernie Sanders on Capitalism, Radicalism, and How Progressives Win (1987) | People's War

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