Sanders lays out foreign policy vision at Georgetown University

In a Thursday speech delivered at Georgetown University, Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders articulated his foresight for a new organization embracing both Russia and the Arab League as members to meet 21st century provocations.

While the Senator did not mention Jihadist Islam by name, he specifically alluded to violent extremism.

We must create an organization like NATO to confront the security threats of the 21st century, an organization that emphasizes cooperation and collaboration to defeat the rise of violent extremism and importantly to address the root causes underlying these brutal acts.”

 “We must work with our NATO partners, and expand our coalition to include Russia and members of the Arab League,” said Sanders.

Sanders proceeded to emphasize the need to acknowledge past errors in previous foreign policy endeavors and decried American unilateralism.

Similarly, he issued a stinging rebuke to Middle Eastern nations which, in his outlook, “have contributed far too little in the fight against ISIS.”

The avowed socialist then advanced his foreign policy perspective by describing a sequence of foreign leaders removed from power, allegedly with the assistance of American chicanery and described a fiasco which followed their removal.

We already have the United Nations (UN).

Sanders is accurate in describing our Middle Eastern allies as slack in their effort to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); however, to suggest a further international organization is needed when the UN and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exist is folly.

Sanders offered no assurance foreign nations would share the same enthusiasm for his grand scheme.

Beginning with Bill Clinton, former President Bush and now Mr. Obama, NATO has encroached on Russia’s borders for 25 years.  Despite a steady drumbeat of pleas and, eventually, warnings from Moscow to halt, Mr. Putin finally re-acted, seized the Crimean peninsula and stoked nationalistic fervor in Ukraine.

It is unlikely the Russians trust utterances such as “cooperation” and dismiss it as empty cliché; likewise, viewed through the Russian prism, the Kremlin imaginably theorizes the West as professional provocateurs.

Mr. Obama’s refusal to cooperate with Russia in Syria has led the Kremlin to form their own coalition to fight ISIS; coercive diplomacy is ineffective.

While Sanders concept of a new international peacekeeping organization is both noble and idealistic, it is hardly practical given the current global state of affairs and deep mistrust between the United States and Russia as well as between Washington and our allies.

Most important, Mr. Sanders may want to choose his words more carefully – when addressing his audience, he assailed some long-time allies in the region who are also listening.

They may be less likely to embrace his plan should he be elected.


[The Hill] [Photo courtesy Mark Wilson/Getty Images]