Senator Bernie Sanders gave a speech last week at Georgetown University which explained what his campaign is all about, along with what he believes Democratic Socialism is.
In his speech, he gave possibly the best response to how we should address the problem of ISIS/Daesh, which much of the media overlooked. My friend Sean Illing at Salon wrote some exceptional commentary on the speech, which you can read here.
Here is the part of Bernie Sanders’ speech which outlines our history of foreign intervention and propping up dictators, despite the United States’ inconsistency when it comes to promoting democracy around the world.
“Our response must begin with an understanding of past mistakes and missteps in our previous approaches to foreign policy. It begins with the acknowledgement that unilateral military action should be a last resort…and that ill-conceived military decisions, such as the invasion of Iraq, can wreak far-reaching devastation and destabilize entire regions for decades. It begins with the reflection that the failed policy decisions of the past – rushing to war, regime change in Iraq, or toppling Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or Guatemalan President Arbenz in 1954, Brazilian President Goulart in 1964, Chilean President Allende in 1973. These are the sort of policies that do not work, do not make us safer, and must not be repeated.”
Bear in mind that we supported Saddam Hussein as long as he was the enemy of our enemy, the theocratic Islamic government of Iran that had toppled the Shah in 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi wasn’t overthrown just because of his secular views, but also because he was corrupt and too friendly with the West which had blocked an attempt to nationalize the oil industry, resulting in a coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossaddegh in 1953.
Once Iran was no longer our friend, we backed Saddam Hussein who was a brutal dictator. Then Saddam Hussein decided he didn’t want to take orders from Washington, and was slapped back out of Kuwait by George H.W. Bush who had the sense at the time not to remove him from power.
The problem with ISIS/Daesh isn’t simply Obama’s fault, or George Bush’s fault – it is yet another unintended consequence of our long history of asserting the interests of corporations on countries around the world.
Sure, Saddam Hussein was a horrific human being, but his secular Islamic government managed to keep the radicals in check unlike the current impotent Iraqi military which has failed to turn back Daesh despite outnumbering the terrorists 10 to 1. Other presidential candidates have proposed expanded military action against ISIS/Daesh including putting forces on the ground, but we cannot bomb our way out of this problem.
This isn’t to say that we don’t have a moral responsibility to fight ISIS. After all, our long history of interference in the affairs of other countries for resources and on the behalf of corporate interests have led us to the current chapter in our decades-long “War on Terror.”
What Bernie Sanders is saying, along with some libertarians, is that we need to recognize the fact that these problems have our fingerprints all over them – and then stop making the same mistakes that got us into this situation with ISIS.
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