International Relations

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) walks with American troops and Afghan police cadets in Kabul, Afghanistan on February 20, 2011. (Photo by Ernesto Hernandez Fonte/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

Iraq

The war in Iraq took the lives of 4,487 American troops, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens and cost U.S. taxpayers at least $1.7 trillion. We went into Iraq in 2003 based on false information, and the evidence is very clear that the war has been counterproductive in terms of fighting international terrorism. As someone who voted against military action in Iraq in the first place, Senator Sanders remains opposed to sending U.S. troops back into Iraq.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq has created widespread volatility and instability in the region. ISIS fundamentalists, who regard women as fourth-class citizens and who believe they have the God-given right to indiscriminately murder ethnic minorities and political opponents, now control wide swathes of northern Iraq and Syria. As they accelerate efforts to create a seventh-century style caliphate, these extremists are threatening Yazidi, Kurdish, and other communities with genocide.

There will be no stability in Iraq unless the entire region -- including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran -- work to make that happen. Further, Prime Minster al-Abadi must accelerate efforts to include Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish populations in the national government, as well as protect minority populations like the Yazidis. These are fundamentally important actions that the previous Maliki government failed to take, with significance consequences for achieving the national unity necessary to end the conflict in that country.    

“The cost of war is great, and it is far more than the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on planes, tanks, missiles and guns.

The cost of war is more than 6,800 service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of war is caring for the spouses and children who have to rebuild their lives after the loss of their loved ones. It’s about hundreds of thousands of men and women coming home from war with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, many of them having difficulty keeping jobs in order to pay their bills. It’s about high divorce rates. It’s about the terrible tragedy of veterans committing suicide.”

- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Afghanistan

After more than a decade of war, thousands of American service members killed, tens of thousands more wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, it is past time to bring home the American servicemen and women still serving in Afghanistan. While we may have entered this war with significant clarity of purpose and moral authority, we have lost sight about what our goals are in that nation. The Taliban is no longer in power, bin Laden is dead, and al Qaeda is severely weakened.. After visiting Afghanistan, Senator Sanders can attest that corruption is rampant, particularly in regards to elections, security and the banking system.

The war in Afghanistan has contributed significantly to our national debt. In 2017 alone, we will spend about $60 billion on the war in Afghanistan.  Any serious discussion of how to reduce the national debt and control spending must begin with defense spending instead of talking about cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and many other essential programs that benefit millions and millions of children, elderly, veterans and working families.

Israel and Palestine

It is extraordinarily depressing that year after year, decade after decade, the wars and killing in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza continue without any apparent progress toward the creation of a permanent peace. Senator Sanders’ hope is that the United States will play a leading role in creating a permanent two-state solution. He believes the U.S. must work with the international community to support a solution that respects the legitimate claims and grievances of both sides, lifts the blockade of Gaza, resolves the borders of the West Bank, and allows both the Israeli and Palestinian people to live in peace.

The bottom line is that Israel must have the right to exist in peace and security, just as the Palestinians must have the right to a national homeland in which they and they alone control their political system and their economy.