Bernie Sanders, Independent senator from Vermont, went on the Ed Show today to discuss the upcoming Senate vote on Obama's desired military intervention in Syria:
You know, I’m keeping an open mind, and I want to hear everything the administration has to say, but I would be less than honest with you if I didn’t say I had very, very deep concerns about this proposal. And by the way, I could tell you that in my office, the phones are bopping off the hook there, and almost unanimously people are opposed to what the president is proposing.
Here are my concerns, Ed, and there are a number of them. Number one, the Congress as everybody knows is significantly dysfunctional today, and in the midst of a collapsing middle class, high unemployment, low wages, global warming, and all of the other major problems our country faces, We’re not dealing with them today, and what do you think happens if we get involved in a war in Syria where all the attention will be? How are we going to address the major problems facing our people? That’s issue number one.
Issue number two. The president talks about a surgical strike, limited engagement. But listen carefully to what people like Sen. McCain are talking about. That’s not what they’re talking about. They’re talking about regime change. They’re talking about overthrowing Assad. And that means billions and billions of dollars, and if the effort does not go well sometime in the future, it could, it could mean American troops on the ground.
Third point, you know, we talk about a world of law. I have real concerns about the United States acting unilaterally without the United Nations, without NATO, without the international community. I think that sets a terrible precedent for other countries in years to come to take similar action, and what are we going to say if Russia or China goes to war?
Ed Schultz then asked Bernie the important question of where the money for this new war would be coming from and inquired about whether Republicans could just use the cost burden of war to advance their agenda of cutting the "Big Three." Here's Bernie:
“Ed, you're exactly right. Our Republican friends have made it very clear. They’re not going to ask the wealthy or large corporations to pay more in taxes. They already want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. What may well be happening is the cost of this war may be paid for by more kids being thrown off Head Start. Senior citizens being thrown off Meals on Wheels programs. Educational programs being cut. The Republicans would go in that way to pay for this war. That’s clear to me.”
Ed also asked Bernie his opinion about the lack of support in the international community for the new war. Here's Bernie:
Ed, what I worry about is what the U.S. is becoming. We're not a leader in the world in health care, in education, infrastructure, but we are becoming the leader of the world, the policeman of the world. And other countries are saying, "You guys pay for it." And we are now spending militarily almost as much as the rest of the world combined. Meanwhile, other countries guarantee health care to all of their people. So I do worry very much about the United States going forward alone. I think it's a very bad precedent.
Regarding Bernie's point about other countries saying "You guys pay for it," that's sadly all-too-true with the proposed military intervention, in which the U.S. would be doing the bidding
of Israel and Saudi Arabia. (And by the way, both of those countries have long had universal health coverage
. The U.S.--even with the ACA--still will not. Both of their health care systems ranked higher than the U.S.'s in the WHO's 2000 report.)
If the U.S. wanted to show its "moral leadership" in the world, it should be focusing on setting an example on health care, on education, on social justice, and--even more importantly--addressing the threat of global warming.