Bernie Sanders says “I’ll be damned” if the U.S. leads the fight against ISIS and Americans are sent back to never-ending quagmires. I explain in this YouTube segment that only Bernie Sanders, not Clinton or Trump, will refrain from sending more Americans back to failed counterinsurgency wars in the Middle East. Because of his work as chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, Sanders witnessed how the perpetual wars espoused by Bush, and Democrats like Clinton, continue to affect American soldier and their families. For this reason, he recently won the Congressional Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In addition, Sanders understands how ISIS and other groups wage war. The primary goal of groups like ISIS is to lure America into asymmetric wars that mitigate our military advantages; submarines and nuclear weapons can’t defeat IEDs or insurgents hiding in apartment buildings. The willingness of Bernie Sanders to move beyond the traditional American paradigm of continual war, in the hopes of ending continual terror, is why Sanders has the right formula to defeat ISIS.
After the horrific attacks in Paris, Sanders explained that “the fight against ISIS is a struggle for the soul of Islam, and countering violent extremism and destroying ISIS must be done primarily by Muslim nations.” While Hillary Clinton echoed the same talking points (in a slightly less bellicose tone) as Trump, Carson, and Republicans, Sanders focused on long term strategy.
Bernie Sanders is also the only presidential candidate to blast Saudi Arabia for suggesting U.S. troops against ISIS and states, “With the third largest military budget in the world and an army far larger than ISIS, the Saudi government must accept its full responsibility for stability in their own region of the world.” Focusing the responsibility of destroying ISIS upon Saudi Arabia is the right thing to do, especially since American wars have resulted in numerous unintended consequences.
Also, Middle Eastern terrorist groups feed upon our duplicity; Fox News blames Islam, yet we’ve made Saudi Arabia the largest importer of weapons in the world.
Yet, both Clinton and Trump advocate the U.S. accelerate its current strategy against ISIS and ignore the teachings of previous failed wars.
Perhaps Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and others who advocate America leads the fight against ISIS should read General Daniel Bolger’s landmark book Why We Lost. According to The Washington Post in a review of Why We Lost, General Bolger “contends that the U.S. military is suited for rapid and conventional wars of the Desert Storm variety, not for long wars of insurgency.” While Clinton is more nuanced in her strategy to defeat ISIS, the core of her advocacy rests in the same GOP rhetoric heard from Trump and others; America must lead the fight against terror at all costs.
However, we’ve spent close to fifteen years leading the charge against terror.
Have our efforts resulted in a safer world?
Regarding major foreign policy decisions associated with Hillary Clinton and hawks in both parties, the Iraq War resulted in the creation of ISIS, while the Libyan civil war (that erupted after Clinton’s decision to bomb Libya) has resulted in a safe haven for ISIS. As stated in a recent New Republic article, Benghazi Won’t Stick to Hillary Clinton, But the Disastrous Libyan Intervention Should.
When Hillary Clinton recently unveiled her strategy to defeat ISIS at the Council on Foreign Relations, she conveniently failed to mention the consequences of her Iraq vote. As stated by the Council on Foreign Relations, “Zarqawi’s successors rebranded AQI as the Islamic State of Iraq and later, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)… reflecting broadened ambitions as the 2011 uprising in Syria created opportunities for AQI to expand.” Al Qaeda in Iraq was “rebranded” ISIS, and while Hillary Clinton’s supporters simply point out that she’s called her vote a “mistake” (as if this warped logic sufficiently justifies future decisions in the Oval Office), it’s clear that our invasion of Iraq resulted in a great many unintended consequences.
It’s these unintended consequences that a Sanders presidency will avoid, and during both Democratic debates, only Bernie Sanders mentioned the impact of war upon our veterans and country. Thus far, 4,494 Americans have died in Iraq and 32,223 Americans have been wounded in the same country President Obama recently sent more Americans to help Iraqis fight ISIS.
As for Afghanistan, President Obama decided to prolong the war that already resulted in 2,372 Americans dead and 17,674 wounded. Rebecca Ruiz of Forbes explains the magnitude of both conflicts in a piece titled A Million Veterans Injured In Iraq, Afghanistan Wars.
Unfortunately, the sacrifice of America’s warriors and their families has not resulted in a decrease in global terror groups; Paris is just one of many examples.
So what have we learned from both wars?