Following recent efforts by media outlets to paint a picture that his opposition to past U.S. wars—from the Vietnam War when he was a young man to voting against the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a member of Congress—was something he might want to apologize or account for, Bernie Sanders on Friday released a video on Friday to make clear why he opposed those “disastrous” military misadventures and will continue to fight against similar follies in the future.
“I make no apologies to anybody, that when I was a young man—before I was elected to anything—I opposed the war in Vietnam,” says Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, in the less than two-minute video. “And I know what that war did to my generation. And when I was a member of the House, I helped lead the effort against the war in Iraq, because I knew that Cheney and Bush and these other folks were lying about weapons of mass destruction.”
The decision to invade Iraq in 2003, Sanders adds, was the “worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of the United States.”
“This is great: Bernie tell tells the pro-war crowd and their enablers to bring it on,” tweeted Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in response to the video. “Can’t remember when a presidential candidate of his stature (he got 43% percent of the vote the 2016 Democratic primary) said something this honest about US wars.”
In addition to noting his recent efforts to end U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led coalition’s brutal assault on Yemen—a war that experts say is fueling tens of thousands of deaths and exacerbating the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world“—Sanders also vows in the video to do everything in his power to prevent any future war with Iran, something the Trump administration in recent weeks has made increasingly more likely.
“If you think the war in Iraq was a disaster,” he warns in the video, “my guess is that the war in Iran would be even worse.”
According to John Nichols, writing for The Nation this week, Sanders has no reason whatsoever to be sorry when it comes to his anti-war record.
“Sanders should never apologize for the anti-war stances he took in the past,” wrote Nichols, “just as he should never apologize for the anti-war stances he is taking today as a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.”
Referencing his appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” last Sunday, Nichols said it was nice to see a high-profile candidate like Sanders not cowing from subtle accusations that being opposed to war or militarism is politically problematic.
“[Sanders’] willingness to defend an anti-war stance on a Sunday-morning talk show,” wrote Nichols, “was a refreshing rejoinder to the casually militaristic approach that characterizes so many media discussions of foreign policy.”