San­ders Calls for Arab Na­tions to Step Up Fight Against Is­lamic State

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Burling­ton, VT

U.S. Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) said last Mon­day that the chal­lenge posed by the self-styled Is­lamic State in Iraq and Syria is not only an Amer­i­can is­sue, but a re­gional and in­ter­na­tional is­sue. San­ders said ISIS will not be de­feated un­less coun­tries in the re­gion like Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia send com­bat troops into the fight. Saudi Ara­bia has the fourth largest mil­i­tary bud­get in the world and an army of more than 200,000 sol­diers, at least seven times greater that the ISIS forces.

The United States, Great Bri­tain, France and other al­lies must support the fight against ISIS, San­ders added, but he said the ef­fort will not suc­ceed with­out ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion by Arab na­tions. “This is a bat­tle for the soul of Is­lam and must be won by non-ex­trem­ist Mus­lim na­tions,” he said. “It can­not be won if the war is por­trayed in the Mid­dle East as U.S. vs. ISIS, West vs. East and Chris­tian­ity vs. Is­lam.

San­ders ap­peared to­day on CNN’s “State of the Union” to dis­cuss the is­sue. In a state­ment af­ter­ward, the se­na­tor cau­tioned that a pro­longed U.S. war in Iraq and Syria would cost hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars. Given the re­luc­tance of the Repub­li­cans in Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy or to close cor­po­rate tax loop­holes, the price of con­tin­ued war­fare in the Mideast likely would be paid for by cuts to pro­grams that help work­ing fam­i­lies in the United States.

“I fear very much the U.S. be­ing dragged into a never-end­ing quag­mire in the Mid­dle East, a per­pet­ual war which will cost us more lives, more in­juries and hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars,” San­ders said. “The war against ISIS, a dan­ger­ous and bru­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, can­not be won by the United States alone. It must be won pri­mar­ily by na­tions in the re­gion – Saudi Ara­bia, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, Jor­dan and Iran – which must be pre­pared to send ground troops into ac­tion to de­feat Is­lamic ex­trem­ists.

“A pro­longed war against ISIS will cost hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars,” San­ders con­tin­ued. “Given the Repub­li­can Party’s re­luc­tance to raise taxes on the wealthy, I have lit­tle doubt that the costs of war will be paid for by cuts to So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care, Med­i­caid, ed­u­ca­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. At a time when the mid­dle class of this coun­try is dis­ap­pear­ing and more peo­ple are liv­ing in poverty than at almost any time in the his­tory of our coun­try, this would be a dis­as­ter for work­ing fam­i­lies.”

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