2016 Presidential Race

Bernie Sanders Flips, Backs Obama Troops in Afghanistan

Sanders Criticized Bush for Keeping Troops in Afghanistan Too Long; Now He Wants to Keep Them There Longer

If you were expecting the foreign policy of the Democratic Party from 2008–a party against “wars of choice” and prolonged engagements in the Middle East–then hop in your DeLorean time machine and rev it up to 88 mph. The Democratic Party of 2015 seems more interested in managing the wars abroad rather than ending them.

Most on the anti-war left are already wary of Hillary Clinton’s hawkish sensibilities; she voted for the Iraq War, voted for the Patriot Act, has recently defended her “humanitarian” intervention in Libya, and praises Henry Kissinger as a model Statesmen.

Thus, many on the left have put their hope in Senator Bernie Sanders to be their saving dove. And if you go to Bernie Sanders campaign website on the issue of War and Peace, you may very well get the impression that he will be such a dove.

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For instance, here’s this line from Senator Sanders’ website, “…in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001, I supported the use of force in Afghanistan to hunt down the terrorists who attacked us. I regret that President Bush did not use that authority properly, and that American combat troops remained there too long.

Yet, now Bernie Sanders is changing his tune. He is supporting Barack Obama’s broken campaign promise to keep troops in Afghanistan through at least 2017.

From msn news:

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that he supports President Barack Obama’s decision to keep troops in Afghanistan, prolonging the war beyond 2016.

Obama announced last week that he would keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after he leaves office in 2017, breaking his promise to end the war during his tenure. He originally planned to maintain only a small military presence based at the U.S. embassy there.

During an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday morning, host George Stephanopoulos asked Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, whether he backs keeping U.S. troops in the country.

“Well, yeah, I won’t give you the exact number. Clearly, we do not want to see the Taliban gain more power, and I think we need a certain nucleus of American troops present in Afghanistan to try to provide the training and support the Afghan army needs,” he said.

So why, oh why, would Senator Sanders criticize George W. Bush for keeping troops in Afghanistan for too long, yet turn around and support Obama for keeping troops in country for an even longer duration? What principled stance is at work here behind Bernie Sanders’ thinking?

Allow me to suggest a line or two from H.L. Mencken, “In politics a man must learn to rise above principle,” or, “When the water reaches the upper deck follow the rats.”

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