Statements

Former Senior U.S. Officials Raise Concerns About Sanders’ Continued Disinterest In Foreign Policy

Nineteen former senior U.S. diplomats and national security officials issued the following joint statement raising concerns about Bernie Sanders’ continued disinterest in foreign policy after his recent illuminating interview with the New York Daily News:

“Bernie Sanders has been seeking the presidency for nearly a year.  It can't be a surprise to him that serving as Commander-in-Chief is a critical part of the job.  We’re therefore deeply troubled by his continued lack of interest in and knowledge of essential foreign policy and national security issues. His recent interview with the New York Daily News demonstrates this problem anew.

“Senator Sanders was asked specific – but not unexpected or unusual – questions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He couldn’t answer, but said that if he 'had some paper' in front of him, he might be able to.  He was asked his opinion on key parts of the Obama Administration’s counter-terrorism strategy.  Again, he couldn’t answer.  That’s concerning, especially just a few weeks after the attack in Brussels.  The same goes for what he said about how he’d go about interrogating captured terrorists if he were President.  'Actually, I haven’t thought about it a whole lot,' he said.  That’s surprising, to say the least – particularly given the dangerous proposals we’re hearing from Republicans on using torture and keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open.

“These were not 'gotcha' questions.  As people who have advised presidents on critical issues like these, we know how important it is to have a Commander-in-Chief who has a deep grasp of them – or who, at the very least, takes them seriously enough to reach beyond the basics.  We respect Senator Sanders's passion for building a better America, but we are troubled by his continued inability to articulate a vision of our nation's role in the world.

“Many of us raised concerns earlier this year that Senator Sanders had not thought through crucial national security issues.  His interview with the New York Daily News shows that he’s made no effort to change that.  America needs a President who has given serious thought to how she or he would approach the serious challenges we’re facing, and who will be ready to lead on day one.”

Signers:

Jeremy B. Bash, former Chief of Staff to the Director of the CIA; former Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense

Rand Beers, former senior State Department, Department of Homeland Security, and White House official

Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State

Ambassador (ret.) Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

Kurt Campbell, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Derek Chollet, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

Mary DeRosa, former Deputy Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser, National Security Council

Daniel F. Feldman, former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan

Phil Gordon, former White House Coordinator for the Middle East

Julianne (“Julie”) Smith, former Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President of the United States

Morton H. Halperin, former Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State; former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy at the National Security Council

Kathleen H. Hicks, former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Lt. General Donald Kerrick (Ret.), former Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States

James N. Miller, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Julissa Reynoso, former Ambassador to Uruguay; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central America

Vikram J Singh, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia

David Wade, former Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State

Tamara Wittes, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs