Threat of War with Iran: Why we need Bernie Sanders for President in 2020

Mass. Peace Action Update, January 2020

We endorse Bernie Sanders for President 2020
We endorse Bernie Sanders for President 2020

by John Ratliff

Trump pushed the United States to the brink of another, even worse, Iraq-style war, with his illegal, unprovoked assassination of Major General Quassim Suleimani, an Iranian military leader in Iraq on a diplomatic mission.

Of the Presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders alone came out strongly, utilizing his campaign as a way to raise, grow, and amplify the demand of No War with Iran.  While other Democratic candidates reinforced Trump’s narrative about the just death of a supposed monster and criticized only the failure to consult congress or the impulsiveness of the timing, Bernie criticized the very drive to war and called for negotiations with the Islamic Republic, a return to the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Bernie Sanders recounted how he had opposed the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq, and stated boldly he would continue opposing the War with Iran without apology.

Sanders helped lead the opposition to the Iraq war in 2002, one of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions in American history. He has also voted against ever-increasing military budgets, including every Pentagon budget increase during the Trump presidency. In the Senate this year, he led the successful struggle to pass a War Powers Resolution to end US support for the Saudi war in Yemen, the first time since 1973 that Congress has voted to end a war in progress, although it failed to override Trump’s veto. Bernie Sanders’ bold opposition to the drive to war with Iran is consistent with all of this history. He made opposition to the war drive against Iran a core part of his campaign [see his I Apologize to no one video] while some of his Democratic rivals tweeted about their concerns on timing or even boasted of their ability to manage a war crisis, without making an unequivocal commitment to No War with Iran. Sign up to help elect Bernie!

Sanders has repeatedly connected militarism, great power politics, and the climate emergency to call for a major turn towards peace and a livable world. In a July 16 interview with the Washington Post, he said: “As president of the United States what I would do…is go to Russia, go to China, go to Brazil, go to India, and say maybe instead of spending $1.5 trillion every year on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other, maybe we should use those resources to fight our common enemy, which is climate change … That has got to be the goal.”

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As a central theme in the speech announcing his candidacy, Sanders called for cutting the military budget and redirecting  the money to meet domestic needs. He consistently names the military-industrial complex one of the corporate power centers people will need to organize against to achieve an economy that works for all of us. He proclaims that national policies have been shaped by a tiny class of billionaires: of the military-industrial complex, the oil Industry, Wall Street, the pharmaceutical and health-insurance industries, and argues that they need to be radically transformed to serve the interests of working people and everyone else.

Sen. Sanders is building a powerful movement to bring about the profound changes he advocates. His rallies begin with grassroots movement leaders speaking of the struggles they are waging to propel change. Sanders’ slogan is “Not me, Us,” and at every opportunity he speaks of the need to mobilize the American people to challenge corporate rulers and their lobbies, not just vote, in order to achieve his campaign’s goals. Bernie’s response to the drive to war with Iran has demonstrated once again that he is building the mass anti-war movement needed to stop the drive to war and transform the U.S an empire based on militarism to a Commonwealth based on the Green New Deal.

The Iowa caucus is less than a month away, New Hampshire’s primary is next and our Massachusetts Primary is on March 3. We announced our endorsement of Bernie Sanders on December 5.  MAPA is mobilizing its members and allies in these coming weeks in support of Senator Sanders’ candidacy.  Sign up to help elect Bernie!

—John Ratliff is the economic justice coordinator of Mass. Peace Action and a member of
the Board of Directors.