Bernie Sanders: Trump a ‘Schoolyard Bully’ on Iran

MUSCATINE, IOWA - APRIL 06: Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a rally at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center on April 06, 2019 in Fairfield, Iowa. The event is the final of three campaign events Sanders held in the state today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) slammed President Donald Trump’s approach to Iran on Monday, calling him a “schoolyard bully” and demanding, “No war with Iran!”

Sanders was commenting on a tweet by the president on Sunday, which was itself a reaction to reported threats by Iran against the United States and American allies in the region.

The U.S. and Iran have been enemies for 40 years, ever since Iran seized American diplomatic personnel as hostages in 1979 in the wake of Iran’s Islamic revolution. Hatred of the United States — the “Great Satan” — is a core component of the Iranian regime’s ideology, whose members and supporters regularly chant “Death to America!” at political events. In recent years, Iran helped terrorists kill U.S. troops in Iraq, and continues to use terrorist proxies to threaten Israel. It has also tried to build a nuclear weapon for decades — a process slowed, but not stopped, after the nuclear deal of 2015.

The Obama administration attempted to appease Iran, partly in the belief that the Middle East would be more stable if Iran were allowed to achieve a more dominant position in the region. But Iran continued to support terrorists, and to threaten U.S. allies. The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran deal and has imposed heavy sanctions on Iran that have damaged its economy as well as its ability to support terrorist proxy armies in the Middle East and elsewhere.

In recent weeks, the U.S. deployed the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region in response to reported Iranian threats to American targets in the region. Members of Congress who have been briefed on the intelligence reports concerning the Iranian threat have backed the administration’s actions. At the same time, both President Trump and the Iranian regime have also said that neither side wants to have a war with the other.

As with North Korea, Trump has adopted a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, he has imposed sanctions on Iran and threatened it with military retaliation if its attacks the U.S. On the other, he has offered diplomatic olive branches, offering last year to meet Iran’s leaders “any time they want to.” He has also been steadfast in his support of the Iranian people as they have protested against the regime and for democratic change. Sanders’s tweet ignores the later approach.

Arguably, given that American targets were allegedly threatened by Iran, Sanders is effectively arguing for a surrender in the face of threats by an enemy. Iran, it seems, is free to act as the “schoolyard bully,” and the U.S. may not respond.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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