5 Reasons Bernie Sanders Opposed The Iraq War In 2002, And How History Judged His Decision
In 2002, as Congress was preparing to vote on a resolution approving George W. Bush’s plan for a rushed invasion of Iraq, Bernard Sanders gave a speech containing 5 reasons for his opposition to the war. Here’s what he said, and how history has judged his assertions.
“In the brief time I have, let me give five reasons why I am opposed to giving the President a blank check to launch a unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq and why I will vote against this resolution. One, I have not heard any estimates of how many young American men and women might die in such a war or how many tens of thousands of women and children in Iraq might also be killed. As a caring Nation, we should do everything we can to prevent the horrible suffering that a war will cause. War must be the last recourse in international relations, not the first.”
History says: Thousands of young American men and women were killed in the Iraq more, and many more came home physically maimed and psychologically warped by the experience. Bernie Sanders underestimated the number of Iraqis who would die as a result of the war, however. It wasn’t tens of thousands. The estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq range from 138,000 to in the millions. Iraqis continue to be killed in the bloody aftermath of George W. Bush’s invasion to this day.
“Second, I am deeply concerned about the precedent that a unilateral invasion of Iraq could establish in terms of international law and the role of the United Nations. If President Bush believes that the U.S. can go to war at any time against any nation, what moral or legal objection could our government raise if another country chose to do the same thing?”
History says: Part of Russia’s justification for its invasion of the Ukraine has been the invasion of Iraq by the United States. Vladimir Putin calls Americans hypocrites for supporting their own government’s war while opposing his.
“Third, the United States is now involved in a very difficult war against international terrorism as we learned tragically on September 11. We are opposed by Osama bin Laden and religious fanatics who are prepared to engage in a kind of warfare that we have never experienced before. I agree with Brent Scowcroft, Republican former National Security Advisor for President George Bush, Sr., who stated, ‘An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.'”
History says: Because of all the money, soldiers and military equipment that were redirected from the war in Afghanistan to the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan quickly fell into disarray, and became the longest overseas war in American history.
“Fourth, at a time when this country has a $6 trillion national debt and a growing deficit, we should be clear that a war and a long-term American occupation ofIraq could be extremely expensive.”
History says: The cost of the Iraq War through the end of 2014 was $4.4 trillion.
“Fifth, I am concerned about the problems of so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in ensuing a civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be exacerbated? And these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered.”
History says: Nouri al-Maliki, installed as Prime Minister of Iraq under the American military occupation, turned out to be such a divisive leader that Iraq has fallen into civil war. Extremists who trained as insurgents against the United States are now tearing Iraq apart, and are fighting to extend their power elsewhere in the Middle East as well, under the name of The Islamic State. They’re slaughtering civilians, destroying ancient artifacts, forcing religious conversions, and sending out videos of decapitations of journalists. How’s that for the Arab Spring George W. Bush promised us?
Bernie Sanders is now running for President of the United States. His predictions about the Iraq War turned out to be quite accurate, demonstrating the kind of insight into foreign policy that we need badly in the White House. If you want a more peaceful world, please give the Sanders for President campaign your support.