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?
On October 27, 2015, a Washington Post headline read Obama weighs moving U.S. troops closer to front lines in Syria, Iraq. While critics question the price tag of better education and healthcare programs attributed to Bernie Sanders, these naysayers remain silent about war. We've already spent 2.4 billion fighting against ISIS, and now Clinton and Trump both want to increase spending and resources.
Why doesn't Clinton or Trump mention the $2.4 billion already spent fighting ISIS?
While Clinton and others have called for the ouster of Assad in Syria, nobody has explained who will replace Assad once he's gone, and nobody has explained why we've sent Americans to Syria, even though America has recently scrapped a $500 million program to arm the Syrian rebels. Like Iraq with Saddam, Clinton continues to ignore the lessons from bombing Libya and its civil war after ousting Gaddafi.
Sadly, we just ended a half billion dollar program to arm the Syrian rebels, proving that Hillary Clinton's advocacy of this endeavor is yet another failed foreign policy objective, along with Iraq and the bombing of Libya.
As for Clinton's belief in America's leadership against ISIS, it's interesting that even though ISIS is linked to Saudi Arabia, the Clinton Foundation accepted $10-$25 million from the Saudis. As Secretary of State, there are also questions of weapons deals linked to Clinton towards Saudi Arabia. What's even more bizarre is that according to a CBS News article titled WikiLeaks: Saudis Largest Source of Terror Funds, Clinton has acknowledged Saudi Arabia's link to funding terrorism:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged U.S. diplomats to do more to stop the flow of money to Islamist militant groups from donors in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government, Clinton wrote, was reluctant to cut off money being sent to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Pakistan.
"More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups," according to the memo signed by Clinton.
Although Clinton supporters will no doubt evade the logic of my argument and focus on ad hominem attacks, the fact remains that the Clinton Foundation accepted millions from Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, why would Clinton's foundation accept money from a country she believed "remains a critical financial support base for al Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups"?
Others agree with Clinton's assessment. The Guardian's Patrick Cockburn explains Saudi Arabia's link to ISIS in a piece titled Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country. Former MI6 agent Alistair Crooke also explains the Saudi/ISIS link in a Huffington Post piece titled You Can't Understand ISIS If You Don't Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia.
Again, why would Clinton's foundation accept money from a country she linked (in a State memo) to the terrorist groups we're fighting?
You'll never hear the word "quagmire" from Clinton or Trump, especially since neoconservatives could easily influence both (and form an alliance with Clinton) in the White House. Instead, Clinton will defend her hawkish record, as she did during the latest debate, while Sanders will rightfully state that Americans shouldn't continue to be sent to "quagmires in the Middle East." In terms of overall strategy, only Bernie Sanders demands that Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries lead the fight against ISIS. It's this road map that will defeat ISIS, not the lofty rhetoric of Clinton or diatribes from Trump. With Bernie Sanders as president, America won't be lured into perpetual conflict by an enemy that wants us to fight endless counterinsurgency wars.