FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sanders and Trump: Too Establishment on Syria

by

shutterstock_324859283 (1)

Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton both want the U.S. government to set up a “safe zone” in Syria to care for refugees from the raging civil war. You may assess their judgment by noting that Secretary of State Clinton and Sen. Rubio also pushed for bombing and regime change in Libya, which was crucial in spreading bin Ladenite mayhem far and wide, and that Rubio thinks knocking out the Sunni Islamic State would hurt Shi’ite Iran.

Ted Cruz does not call for a safe zone; he merely wants to bomb the Islamic State back to the stone age while arming the Kurds, whom the leadership of NATO member Turkey wants to destroy and the Sunni Arabs distrust. Cruz says the Kurds would be “our ground troops,” yet he does not rule out American troops as a last resort.

Where do the reputed anti-establishment candidates stand on the safe zone? Alas, Donald Trump favors it, and Bernie Sanders is ambiguous.

If this is disestablishmentarianism American-style, we are in bad shape.

“What I like is build a safe zone in Syria,” he said. “Build a big, beautiful safe zone, and you have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier. You keep ’em in Syria. You build a tremendous safe zone. It’ll cost you tremendously much less, much less, and they’ll be there and the weather’s the same.”

Like Cruz, Trump says he’d send U.S. ground forces “if need be,” but he also promises to “take the oil.” How would he do that without an extended stay for grounds troops.

What about Sanders? He is reported as opposing Clinton’s call for a safe zone, or a no-fly zone, but look at his precise wording from October: “I oppose, at this point, a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria which could get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region” (emphasis added).

I realize that candidates don’t like to close doors because reopening them later can look awkward. Still, that makes me nervous.

Sanders approves of President Obama’s bombing of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and favors “supporting those in Syria trying to overthrow the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad” — which in reality means supporting bin Ladenites or worse. He has also said the Saudi regime should be pressured to fight the Islamic State: “This war is a battle for the soul of Islam and it’s going to have to be the Muslim countries who are stepping up. These are billionaire families all over that region. They’ve got to get their hands dirty. They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support.”

A Saudi-led effort, however, would be awkward, considering that the Saudis and their Gulf state partners enabled the rise of radical jihadism as part of an effort to make trouble for Iran and its ally Assad, their Shi’ite rivals. And let’s not forget that for a year the Saudis have practically been committing genocide, with Obama’s help, in Yemen. What’s with Sanders anyway?

“Why,” asks writer Sam Husseini, “should a U.S. progressive be calling for more intervention by the Saudi monarchy? Really, we want Saudi troops in Syria and Iraq and Libya and who knows where else? You’d think that perhaps someone like Sanders would say that we have to break our decades-long backing of the corrupt Saudi regime — but no, he wants to dramatically accelerate it…. If the position of the most prominent ‘progressive’ on the national stage is for more Saudi intervention, what does that do to public understanding of the Mideast and dialogue between people in the U.S. and in Muslim countries?”

At least Sanders and Trump understand that George W. Bush’s Iraq war gave birth to the Islamic State, just as U.S. bombing and regime change in Libya and Obama and Clinton’s declaration of open season on Assad led to its expansion. What Sanders and Trump do not understand is that even the relatively limited involvement they favor would have a dynamic that could well lead a U.S. president to deploy ground troops to the quagmire both men say they want to avoid.

Sheldon Richman, author of the forthcoming America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail