One of the entertaining aspects of writing about Bernie Sanders is how often he demonstrates how old he really is. Politico noted that the venerable socialist senator made a reference to Mohammad Mosaddegh, a Marxist Iranian prime minister whom the CIA arranged to be overthrown in 1953, during a recent debate with Hillary Clinton. The Agency was always doing things like that, as part of the Cold War. Some of the less edifying aspects of CIA covert actions became the subject of a special Senate committee headed by a man named Sen.


Frank Church. The Agency was reined in and suffered severe restrictions, even insofar as human intelligence was concerned, during the Carter years, with inevitable results. The middle-aged Bernie Sanders wanted to abolish the CIA altogether.

The idea seems crazy in the second decade of the 21st Century, but a lot of crazy things were proposed in the 1970s and Sanders, always at the cutting edge, likely believed in most of them. He has since softened his views, something his Marxist fellow travelers look askance upon.

The CIA is far more popular these days than it was 40 years ago. Then it was an out of control group of assassins killing people for being slightly left of center (i.e. for being allies of the Soviet Union.) Now the agency is the tip of the spear in the War on Terror, operating drones, arming and training American allies, and its agents being played on TV shows by Jeffrey Donovan and Piper Perabo. Even hard edge series such as “Homeland” deals with what the CIA does with some sympathy. Spying and assassination are now in.


Getting back to Sanders, his obsession with a long dead, sordid little Marxist shows how stuck in the past he is. The retro politics of the man from Vermont is ironic, considering how many of her supporters were not alive when the Cold War finally ended. Sanders is a man with a trunk load of resentments, going back decades when he opposed the Vietnam War. The idea that he might get the chance to settle scores in the White House is at once bizarre and frightening.