Bernie Sanders' Syria Plan Is More "America First" Than Trump's
The foreign policy goals of the Trump Administration seem to have completely changed from what the president laid out while on the campaign trail, including on one of the biggest issues — Syria. Even though Trump suggested America should steer clear of other countries' problems, he bombed a Syrian air base after a chemical weapons attack in early April. Whether you agree or not, it's not representative of the "America First" platform Trump promoted while running for office. But there's another candidate who ran in 2016 who wants out of the Middle East. Sen. Bernie Sanders is against the Syria strike because he's afraid the country could get dragged into another war.
Sanders appeared on CNN's State of the Union and explained his thoughts to Jake Tapper. Unsurprisingly, Sanders thinks that both ISIS and the Assad regime have got to go, but engaging the U.S. military is not how he would go about it:
Assad has got to go. ISIS has got to be defeated. But I do not want to see the United States get sucked into perpetual warfare in the Middle East, see our men and women get killed, trillions of dollars being spent.
Instead, he said he would focus on getting the other players in the picture to come to an agreement — in this case, Russia and Iran, the big supporters of the Assad regime.
The big reason why is the ongoing commitment. He pointed to how there are still soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq as proof that the country could be on the lines for millions of dollars and countless soldiers. "We have got to start paying attention to the needs back home," Sanders told Tapper. "The war in Iraq was the worst blunder in the modern history of this country — precipitated mass instability. We cannot continue to make those mistakes."
He said that's especially bad when "kids in this country cannot afford to go to college, when our infrastructure is collapsing, when 28 million Americans have no health insurance."
Ultimately, the Trump administration will be the one to make these decisions. The strike took place without the Senate giving its approval, and the ultimate actions of the United States don't seem to be clear. Just before the Syrian chemical weapons attack, for instance, Trump had been open to the idea of Assad staying in power.
To Sanders, that's not an option due to the devastation the war has caused. Assad has got to go, and it has to be done diplomatically. "What you need is a strategy," Sanders explained. "This will require intensive negotiations to tell Russia that they cannot support a dictator who is destroying his entire country. One strike is not going to do very much in that process."
Sanders may be on to something — the concern, however, is that diplomacy does not seem to be Trump's strong suit.