Factchecks

Sanders Lacks Coherent Plan On ISIS

Bernie Sanders has largely avoided discussing foreign policy and has not presented a clear vision for how to defeat ISIS – one of the most significant challenges the next Commander-in-Chief will face. Instead, he’s offered mixed messages and misguided ideas.

Daily Beast: “Bernie’s ISIS Strategy Is A Disaster - Bernie Sanders’ comments about getting Iran and Saudi Arabia together to fix Syria is just another example of how little he understands foreign policy.”

  • In 2012, Sanders said he supported arming Syrian rebels "in a careful way." But in 2014, he voted againsttraining and arming Syrian rebels.
  • On October 28th, Sanders outlined the need for American troops in Syria to provide training to moderate rebels. Two days later, when the Pentagon announced the deployment of additional Special Operating forces to Syria, Sanders appeared to offer his support. But later that evening, his campaign reversed course and put out a release "expressing concern" over the plan. And by November 6th, he offered his unequivocal opposition.
    • The Hill, 11/18/15: "[Sanders] has mixed his messages. Just two days before Obama announced the deployment of an additional group of special operations troops to train allied forces fighting ISIS in Syria, Sanders told CNN that “we need American troops there to provide the training to those groups.” But once Obama made that announcement, Sanders struck a different tone in a statement from a spokesman that said he “expressed concern about the United States being drawn into the quagmire of the Syrian civil war which could lead to perpetual warfare.” The Sanders campaign did not return requests to clarify his views.”
  • He’s even recklessly and repeatedly supported encouraging Iran to put troops on the ground in Syria, right on Israel’s doorstep, and joining a coalition that also includes troops from Saudi Arabia -- Iran’s greatest regional rival. Experts have made clear that this proposal is disastrous and indicative of a fundamental lack of understanding about the dynamics at play in the Middle East.
    • Coalition for a Democratic Syria’s Evan Barrett: “In an environment where Saudi Arabia and Iran are consistently at each other’s throats in multiple regional theaters, a presidential candidate with limited interest in foreign policy insisting that they work together because they are both Muslim is deeply troubling and suggests grave ignorance.”
    • Hudson Institute’s Michael Pregent: “Sanders statements portend that he would outsource U.S. foreign Policy in the Middle East to Iran. Iran is not in Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS—they are there to grow influence and ensure their proxies are emboldened and empowered.”