Senator Bernie Sanders used a recent commencement address he gave at Westminster College (MO), to attack the foreign policy vision that President Trump unveiled at the United Nations (UN) this past Tuesday.
In a wide-ranging speech, Sanders attacked Trump over his handling of the Iran nuclear deal, the alleged involvement of Russia in the 2016 election, and the violent Antifa protests in Charlottesville, VA, earlier this year. Discussing the Iran deal, Sanders declared, “We must protect this agreement. President Trump has signaled his intention to walk away from it, as he did the Paris agreement, regardless of the evidence that it is working. This would be a serious mistake.”
Sanders went on to praise the Obama administration for producing the deal in the first place, calling it the perfect example of “real leadership” and “real power.” Despite this high praise, the nation of Israel, and President Benjamin Netanyahu have repeatedly and strongly denounced the deal a tool that accelerates Iran’s nuclear development, and endangers regional stability, and the very existence of the state of Israel.
Sanders argued that backing away from the deal will hurt America’s ability to make deals in the future, asking why another country would want to make a such deals with a “reckless president and an irresponsible Congress.”
“Here is the bottom line,” the septuagenarian Senator railed, “In my view the United States must seek partnerships not just between governments, but between peoples. A sensible and effective foreign policy recognizes that our safety and welfare is bound up with the safety and welfare of others around the world.”
Sanders also took time to criticize foreign interventionism – a topic on which he and Hillary Clinton had vigorous disagreement during the 2016 presidential election. Interestingly, during the campaign, both Sanders and Trump held similar positions on Iraq, while Hilary defended the intervention. During his speech, he touched on this topic, “Far too often, American intervention and the use of American military power has produced unintended consequences which have caused incalculable harm.”
“A heavy-handed military approach, with little transparency or accountability, doesn’t enhance our security. It makes the problem worse,” he added.
Sanders ended his commencement address with a focus on domestic policy issues, and especially identity politics, “That means continuing the struggle to end racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia here in the United States and making it clear that when people in America march on our streets as neo-Nazis or white supremacists, we have no ambiguity in condemning everything they stand for.”
If the students of Westminster College, in Missouri, were looking for a commencement speaker to give them advice as they entered adulthood, or encouragement for a job well done – they must have been bitterly disappointed.