Who Will Be the War Candidate in 2020?

“The president has said he doesn’t want to see this country wrapped up in endless wars… and I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders said to the Fox News audience last week at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Then, looking directly at the camera, he added: “Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia must not determine the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a resolution on the War Powers Act that would put an end to U.S. involvement in the 5-year civil war in Yemen. This war has created one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world of our time, with thousands of children dead in the middle of a cholera epidemic and famine.

Supported by a Democratic Party united in Congress, and an anti-interventionist faction of the Republican Party headed by Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged the President to sign it, Trump vetoed the resolution, describing it as a “dangerous attempt to undermine my constitutional authority.”

According to journalist Buchanan J. Buchanan, “with enough Republican votes in both chambers to resist Trump’s veto, this could have been the end of the matter; but it wasn’t. In fact, Trump gave the Democrats his them for peace by 2020.”

If Sanders emerged as the nominee, we would have an election with a Democrat running with the catchphrase “no more wars” that Trump had promoted in 2016. Thus, Trump would be defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

In 2008, John McCain, hawk leader in the Senate, was defeated by the progressive Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the bellicose Hillary Clinton who had voted for authorizing the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, who was much more aggressive than Obama in his approach to Russia lost.

However, in 2016, Trump presented himself as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq war, an anti-interventionist, and promising to get along with Russian Vladimir Putin and getting out of the Middle East wars.

None of the main candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker– seems as aggressive as Trump has become.

Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear agreement with Iran, negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry, and re-imposed severe sanctions against the Iranians. He declared the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran a terrorist organization, to which Tehran responded with the same action against the U.S. Central Command.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moved the U.S. embassy there, closed the consulate that was in charge of Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to Palestinians, recognized the annexation by Israel of the Golan Heights snatched from Syria in 1967 and kept silent about Netanyahu’s threat to annex the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Trump has spoken of getting all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. However, they are still there.

Although Sanders supports Israel, he says he is looking for a two-state solution, and criticizes Netanyahu’s regime.

Trump came to power promising to get along with Moscow, but he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced the US  withdrawal of the 1987 Treaty of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) subscribed by Ronald Reagan, who banned all ground-based nuclear intermediate range missiles.

When Putin sent a hundred Russian soldiers to Venezuela to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in the recent blackouts, Trump provocatively ordered the Russians to “get out” of the Bolivarian and Chavista country. According to Buchanan, the gravity center of U.S. policy is shifting towards Trump’s position in 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the Republican Party is growing.

The anti-interventionist wing of the Republican Party together with the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party in Congress are capable — as they were War Powers Act resolution on Yemen– to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Buchanan predicts that in the 2020 primaries, foreign policy will be in the center and the Democratic Party would have captured the ground with the catchphrase “no more wars” that candidate Donald Trump exploited in 2016.

A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.

Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.