WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday offered a striking rebuttal to criticisms of his anti-war views, saying that he is opposed to war because of its lasting physical and mental toll on America’s veterans.
“War should be in my view, the last resort of a great nation. We should explore every other option -- and I know that opens up the political types: ‘Oh, you’re wimpy. You don’t want to go to war.’ Well, I don’t accept that. I’ve talked to too many people who came home without legs, without eyesight, with traumatic brain injury,” he said in an interview with the Des Moines Register.
The Democratic presidential hopeful has long opposed war: as an activist, he protested the Vietnam War, and as a congressman, he railed against the Iraq War.
But Sanders also cares deeply for military veterans and has spent much of his legislative career fighting for better health care, jobs and educational opportunities for veterans. As chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee last year, he brokered a bipartisan deal to pass a bill allocating $17 billion to reform the VA health care system and reduce backlogs at VA hospitals (though veterans continue to experience severe delays in receiving care).
On Thursday, Sanders also defended the Iran nuclear deal, criticizing opponents of the deal who say the United States should just impose more economic sanctions.
“Do I particularly trust Iran? No, I don’t,” he said. “But I think that this agreement has enough mechanisms in it to say to Iran that if they break the agreement, we’re going to snap back those sanctions, and they will be punished severely, and military force always remains an option. But I think we should do everything we can to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon without having to go to war.”
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