Senator Bernie Sanders is chipping away at Hillary Clinton’s lead in Iowa and New Hampshire. If he wins both the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary, the odds favor Sanders to win the Democratic Nomination in 2016. Perhaps the most important element of Sanders’s surge is the fact that he voted against the Iraq War, while Hillary Clinton voted for the quagmire.
The Middle East needs an American president with the wisdom of Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, since the current turmoil in the region needs less American military involvement; not a continuation of past mistakes. In addition, Bernie Sanders literally foreshadowed the repercussions of removing Saddam from Iraq. He voiced vehement opposition to sending Americans into a counterinsurgency conflict, despite the fact that 72% of Americans supported the Iraq War in 2003 and the political climate equated war with patriotism.
While Sanders never cared about polls or political expediency, others don’t have this value system. True, Clinton called her vote a “mistake,” however this mistake cost America dearly and destabilized the Middle East. Almost 4,500 Americans were killed in combat in Iraq, over 32,000 Americans were wounded in combat, and close to two-thirds of Americans killed or wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan were the victims of IED blasts. As for the Iraqi death toll from civil war (starting shortly after the fall of Saddam), one estimate states 500,000 Iraqis have died. To put the war in perspective for Iraqis, during George Bush’s last four years in office, there were 19,535 terrorist attacks and from 2003-2010, Iraqis experienced 1,003 suicide bombings. Unspeakable catastrophe, not “mistake,” are the words that should be correlated to Clinton’s Iraq War vote.
In early 2015, when 62% of registered voters supported sending American ground troops to fight ISIL, Senator Sanders stated that Muslim countries should send their own ground troops to fight ISIL, not America. Sanders, unlike Clinton and GOP candidates, has clearly articulated his views on American involvement in the Middle East. In late 2014 on MSNBC’s The Ed Show, Vermont’s Senator called for Arab nations, not the U.S., to fight ISIL and other regional threats:
You have countries like Saudi Arabia sitting right, sharing the border with Iraq which has the fourth largest defense budget in the world more than U.K., more than France. They have 200,000 soldiers in their army.Ed, where are these guys? They have a major air force. You have Turkey sitting over there. If this becomes a war between the United States and ISIS, the West and the East Christianity and Islam, it`s a losing proposition. It is what ISIS wants.This is, as I understand it, a war for the soul of Islam and if that is the
case, the Muslim countries in that area have got to stand up and they have got to fight. They have got to provide the ground troops.Should the United States, the U.K., France be supportive, provide weapons?Yes, but should we be putting ground troops in there getting involved that what I`ve see as a quagmire, perpetual warfare in the Middle East, I think that that would be a disaster.
Can you imagine Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton speaking about the Middle East in this manner? If anything, Jeb Bush says he still would have authorized the invasion, even with everything we now know about the war.
In contrast to Sanders, let’s analyze Hillary Clinton’s views on Syria. A Guardian article titled Hillary Clinton wanted to arm Syrian rebels, memoir reveals explains that the former Secretary of State wanted America to enter Syria’s civil war as an arms exporter:
"Wicked problems rarely have a right answer; in fact, part of what makes them wicked is that every option appears worse than the next. Increasingly that's how Syria appeared," Clinton wrote."The risks of both action and inaction were high, [but] the president [Obama]'s inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels," she added. "No one likes to lose a debate, including me. But this was the president's call and I respected his deliberations and decision," she wrote, according to CBS News.
Essentially, Clinton wanted to send weapons to Syrian rebels that half the time are linked to jihadists, which would have jeopardized Israel’s security and destabilized Iraq even further. It’s this type of aggressive foreign policy that correlates to a neoconservative outlook on the Middle East. Like Bush and Cheney, Clinton rarely takes a moment to ask what the repercussions of arming the Syrian rebels might be, or whether or not a Libyan civil war would result from her bombing campaign as Secretary of State.
While Bernie Sanders says “I’ll be damned” if more Americans are sent back into a Middle Eastern quagmire, The New York Times has written that neoconservatives have “aligned” themselves with Hillary Clinton. Numerous other publication have openly stated Clinton is essentially a Democratic neoconservative and Vox published a piece titled Hillary Clinton will pull the Democrats and the country in a hawkish direction. The fact remains that America’s hawkish foreign policy has caused an already volatile region to deal with civil wars and the repercussions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The predictions of Cheney and Rumsfeld never materialized, and while Bernie Sanders was one of the few voices of dissent (his predictions unfortunately came true), Clinton sided with George W. Bush.
With Senator Bernie Sanders as president, U.S. soldiers won’t be sent into endless Middle Eastern wars and America will call for Arab nations to send their own troops to fight ISIS. With Clinton, we’ll see the exact opposite. Ultimately, the Middle East needs Senator Bernie Sanders infinitely more than a hawkish Hillary Clinton.