News Release

25,000 Petition Signers Urge Bernie Sanders: Challenge the “Madness of Militarism”


A petition with more than 25,000 signers from around the United States was transmitted to the campaign headquarters of Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday (Aug. 27), urging him to directly tackle foreign policy issues in his run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Organized by the online group, the petition says:

“Senator Sanders, we are enthusiastic about your presidential campaign’s strong challenge to corporate power and oligarchy. We urge you to speak out about how they are intertwined with militarism and ongoing war. Martin Luther King Jr. denounced what he called ‘the madness of militarism,’ and you should do the same. As you said in your speech to the SCLC, ‘Now is not the time for thinking small.’ Unwillingness to challenge the madness of militarism is thinking small.”

The petition is headlined “Bernie Sanders, Speak Up: Militarism and Corporate Power Are Fueling Each Other.” In addition to signing the petition, about 5,000 of the 25,000 signers wrote individual comments that are posted online as part of the petition.

In a letter to Sanders that accompanied the petition, offered to directly relay any response from him to all of the petition’s signers.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at
Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of He is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He wrote the recent piece “Bernie Sanders Should Stop Ducking Foreign Policy.

“This petition to Bernie comes under the heading of critical support for his presidential campaign,” Solomon said today. “Bernie has been terrific in this campaign as he eloquently denounces corporate power, economic inequality and ‘oligarchy.’ But he’s not saying much about crucial issues of war, militarism and foreign policy — issues that have a great deal to do with a wide range of concerns that have been central to his grassroots campaign.

Solomon added: “As RootsAction noted in launching this petition campaign, ongoing war and huge military spending continue to be deeply enmeshed with basic economic ills from upside-down priorities. The National Priorities Project has documented that 54 percent of the U.S. government’s discretionary spending now goes to military purposes. We sidestep these realities at our peril.”

JEFF COHEN, jcohen at
Co-founder of and director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, Cohen said today: “Like most progressives, I’m thrilled that Bernie’s campaign has aroused so much enthusiasm among voters, especially young voters — despite mainstream media’s embarrassing obsession with candidate Trump. In strongly endorsing Bernie for president, human rights champion Cornel West grouped him with ‘prophetic politicians’ who deserve ‘our critical support’ despite ‘their faults and blind spots.’ That comment probably speaks for thousands of Bernie supporters and sympathizers who signed the RootsAction petition: It is a serious ‘blind spot’ to denounce corporate power and oligarchy without emphasizing militarism and perpetual war.”

Cohen added: “Bernie is connecting with voters by arguing that a country as wealthy as ours should provide free college and healthcare for all and infrastructure jobs. But some supporters are questioning how that’s fundable unless billions of war dollars are redirected homeward.”

SAM HUSSEINI, sam at, @samhusseini
Communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini just wrote the piece “Lousy Food, Small Servings — Sanders Foreign Policy: Backing Saudi Intervention.” He said today: “While Sanders’ pronouncements on foreign policy have been scant, a perhaps larger problem is that some of what we’ve heard has actually been regressive. The foreign policy issue that he seems most passionate about is particularly dangerous. Sanders has pushed for the repressive Saudi regime to engage in more intervention in the Mideast.

“Saudi military intervention in Yemen has helped bring what the UN calls a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ to that country and more Saudi intervention in Syria, Iraq, Libya or elsewhere will almost certainly lead to more human suffering.

“Sanders has repeatedly argued for more Saudi intervention. He said on CNN: ‘Saudi Arabia is the third-largest military budget in the world, they’re going to have to get their hands dirty in this fight. We should be supporting, but at the end of the day this is [a] fight over what Islam is about, the soul of Islam, we should support those countries taking on ISIS.’

“Progressives in the U.S. are supposed to look toward the Saudi monarchy to save the soul of Islam? The Saudis have pushed the teachings of the Wahhabi sect and have thus been deforming Islam for decades. This actually helped give rise to ISIS and Al Qaeda. It’s a little like Bernie Sanders saying that the Koch Brothers need to get more involved in U.S. politics — they need to ‘get their hands dirty’.”