Bernie Sanders: The Candidate to End Endless War

January 4th, 2020 - by Gar Smith

While others have been silent, Bernie has been trying to stop a war with Iran — and he is the only candidate with the consistent, unwavering record opposing endless wars

David Sirota / Bern Notice

(January 3, 2019) — Bernie delivered remarks today in response to Donald Trump’s move to start a war with Iran. “I have consistently opposed this dangerous path to war with Iran,” he said. “But we need to do more than just stop the potential of a war. We need to firmly commit to ending the US military presence in the Middle East.”

Click here to watch Bernie’s full speech, or read the full transcript of his speech below. Here are five important facts for context:

1. BERNIE WAS ATTACKED 4 YEARS AGO FOR OPPOSING WAR WITH IRAN: In 2016, Bernie pushed to diplomatically engage Iran and avoid war — and he was attacked for doing so. Politico reported that his opponents deployed former national security officials to berate him.

2. WHILE OTHERS WERE SILENT, BERNIE HAS BEEN CAMPAIGNING IN 2020 AGAINST WAR WITH IRAN: Bernie isn’t only now speaking up to oppose a war in Iran — he has been explicitly campaigning against a war for most of his 2020 campaign. In May, he delivered an address to try to prevent a war in Iran. He then published an oped in The Guardian entitled “We must stop the US from going to war with Iran.” He also launched a petition against a war with Iran and did television interviews pressing the case against a war in Iran.

3. BERNIE IS THE ONLY 2020 DEM WHO HAS OPPOSED ALL OF TRUMP’S MILITARY BUDGETS: There’s nothing more to add here — Bernie is the only one with this record. Period, end of discussion.

4. BERNIE IS THE ONLY LEADING CANDIDATE TALKING ABOUT ENDING THE ENTIRE ENDLESS WAR POLICY: Unlike other candidates, Bernie isn’t just raising questions about Trump’s push towards war. He is explicitly opposing a war with Iran — and beyond that, he is calling for a wholesale end to the overall policy of endless war

5. BERNIE OPPOSED THE IRAQ WAR, WHILE BIDEN HELPED THE GOP LAUNCH IT: Bernie led the fight against the Iraq War, which helped destabilize the Middle East. By contrast, Joe Biden did not just vote for the Iraq War — he was the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman who undermined Democratic opposition and played a pivotal role in helping Republican lawmakers authorize the Bush/Cheney Iraq War resolution. 


(January 3, 2020) — Thank you all for coming out. Today I want to talk about some of the very important issues facing our country, but before I get to some of them I wanted to take a moment to address the events in Iraq and the escalating crisis in the Middle East. 

Yesterday President Trump ordered the assassination of a top Iranian general, Qassem Suleimani, in Iraq, along with the leader of an Iraqi militia. This is a dangerous escalation that brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East, which could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars and lead to even more deaths, more conflict, more displacement in that already highly volatile region of the world. 

When I voted against the war in Iraq in 2002, I feared that it would result in greater destabilization in that country and in the entire region. At that time I warned about the deadly so-called unintended consequences of a unilateral invasion. 

Today, 17 years later, that fear has unfortunately turned out to be a truth. United States has lost some 4,500 brave men and women fighting in Iraq, tens of thousands have been wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, and trillions of dollars have been spent on that war. 

The result: Today, today, we have massive unrest in that country. We have corruption in that country. We have terrible poverty in that country. And now, Iraqis want American troops out. 

All of that suffering, all of that death, all of that huge expenditure of money, for what? 

It gives me no pleasure to tell you that at this moment we face a similar crossroads, fraught with danger. Once again we must worry about unintended consequences, and the impact of unilateral decision-making. Let me repeat a warning I gave in 2002, during the debate over the war in Iraq, quote, this is what I said back then: War must be the last recourse in our Int’l Relations, and as a caring nation we must do everything we can to prevent the horrible suffering that a war will cause, end of quote. 

As the former chair of the US Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, I have seen close up the pain, the death, and the despair caused by war. 

I’ve gone to too many funerals in my own state. I’ve talked to too many mothers who’ve lost their kids in war. I’ve talked to too many soldiers, men and women who’ve come home with PTSD, who have come home without arms and without legs. And I know that it is rarely the children of the billionaire class who face the agony of reckless foreign policy. It is the children of working families. 

Let us not forget that when Trump took office, we had a nuclear agreement with Iran, negotiated by the Obama administration along with our closest allies. Countries from all over the world came together to negotiate that agreement, which put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. 

The wise course would have been to stick with that nuclear agreement, enforce it’s provisions, and use that diplomatic channel with Iran to address a wide range of concerns, including their support of terrorism. 

Unfortunately, Trump ignored the advice of his own security officials, ignored the advice of his own security officials, and listened to right-wing extremists, some of whom were exactly the same people that got us into the war in Iraq in the first place. 

As we all remember, Trump promised to end endless wars. Tragically, his actions now put us on the path to another war. Potentially one that could be even worse than before. 

The truth as we all know is that the world today is a very dangerous place. We are seeing a movement all across the planet toward authoritarianism. We are seeing a growing arms race. And we are seeing nuclear weapons in the hands of unstable and hostile regimes. 

I believe that in the midst of all of that, the role of the United States – difficult though it may be – must be to work with the international community to end conflicts, to end the threat of war, not to promote war as president Trump is doing. This is how the true power of the United States is shown. And that is how I will use American power as president.

As I think we have seen for several years now, Trump makes decisions impulsively, impulsively without explanation. And in this case as in the past without any congressional consultation. I believe strongly that a key step in ending our endless wars is for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority over matters of war. 

Our founding fathers had it right. And they gave the responsibility of war to congress. That is exactly where it must be placed. I find it incredible that at the same time as Trump is greatly expanding military spending – and I am proud to tell you that I have voted against all of Trump’s military budgets – At the same time he is spending tens of bilions of dollars more on the military, he is cutting back on the diplomatic capabilities of the State Dept to negotiate agreements around the world. And that to my mind is a very dangerous course of action.

I have consistently opposed this dangerous path to war with Iran. But we need to do more than just stop the potential of a war. We need to firmly commit to ending the US military presence in the Middle East, in an orderly manner, not through a Tweet. And must understand that these wars have cost us so much in blood and in treasure. 

We must end our involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, which is now one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes on earth. And we must bring our troops home from Afghanistan. Instead of provoking more volatility in the region, the United States must use its power, its wealth, and its influence to bring the regional powers to the table to resolve conflicts. 

Now let me conclude by simply saying this:

At a time when we have over 500,000 americans who are homeless today, including 30,000 veterans. At a time when some 87 million of our people are either uninsured or underinsured, and 30,000 die each year because they don’t get to a doctor when they should. At a time when we face the urgent need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, to build the housing we desperately need, and to address the existential crisis of climate change, we as a nation must get our priorities right.

We must invest in the needs of the American people, not spend trillions more on endless wars.