America's Middle East policy will decide Hillary and Bernie's fate

US voters have to choose between Clinton's experience and Sanders' understanding,

 |  5-minute read |   29-02-2016
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The voters of the US have to choose between Hillary's experience and Sanders' understanding, at least this is what the first sight depicts.

"The sight of Israeli soldiers breaking the arms and legs of Arabs is reprehensible... What is happening in Israel is a tragedy and I don't have a magical solution to this problem", said Bernie Sanders in 1988. Time and again in the past few decades Bernie has laid more emphasis on the role of the US as the leader that can help bring Arab states and Israel on the same page. As one of the prominent presidential nominees, Bernie has garnered support from the likes of Noam Chomsky for his policies.

As the Super Tuesday on the 1st of March is fast approaching, presidential battle in the United States is intensifying and could well decide the fortune of candidates in the next phase when 12 states go to polls. Donald Trump has already wrecked a crushing defeat on Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz by a considerable margin and seems poised to becoming the GOP candidate. On the other hand, it has been a neck and neck competition between Bernie Sanders and former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Also read: Why I am grateful to Trump and his Islamophobia

The run-up to final nomination of any candidate entails a number of factors including his/her past comments and stands on the issues of national and international significance. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidates have locked horns in debates on various platforms and on a series of issues from unemployment to poverty.

However, it's always the foreign policy of any candidate that could make or break his prospects. As the world has witnessed, the arrival and barbarity of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reaching its pinnacle, the foreign policy of Hillary and Sanders has come under severe scrutiny. While Hillary does possess ample amount of experience as she held the position of secretary of state from 2009-2013, Bernie seems to be lagging behind with his limited expertise on the US foreign policy.

A meticulous analysis of their stands from the war in Iraq to the Israeli bombing of Gaza in 2014 reveals their understanding of international affairs. Bernie opposed the Iraq war and gave an aggressive speech on the floor of the house in 2002, opposing the regime change and reflected upon the dire consequences that this world continues to endure post invasion. Hillary, on the other hand, supported the Iraq war wholeheartedly and bit the dust in the recent past by acknowledging that it was a mistake.

The audience at one of the CNN debates seemed to be in consonance with Bernie's exhortations with regard to the US involvement in wars as he received a resounding applause while regarding the Iraq war as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of the US. Hillary Clinton has questioned Bernie's foreign policy credentials and his limited experience as she did back in the year 2008 in Obama's case as well, completely oblivious of Bernie's foretelling skills.

The year 2011 projected an unprecedented landscape in the Middle-East as a number of dictatorships went for a toss. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya was one of the uprooted dictators to have been later assassinated in the broad day light. The US and a multi-state coalition intervened in Libya ostensibly to implement UN resolution 1973.

Also read: Rise of Trump and Sanders reflects polarisation in American politics

As per the released emails, Hillary's aides urged her to claim credits for their triumph against Gaddafi. What ensued was chaos and turmoil exacerbating the situation as the political vacuum not only paved the way for extremists to take over but also resulted in two parallel governments functioning in Tripoli and Tobruk. This coupled with Benghazi bombings saw Hillary's Libya doctrine shattered into pieces. The UN brokered peace accord between the two governments also hangs by a thread and the civilians continue to suffer.

Bernie Sanders, after witnessing the fiasco in Libya, severely admonished US of any military involvement on the ground in Syria in 2013. However, Hillary neither seemed in agreement with Obama's policy of only air strikes in Syria nor with Bernie's doctrine of war being the last recourse. "Before you go on a war you explore every other option that is available, that is going to be the basic tenet of my foreign policy", said Bernie in one of his recent interviews.

Hillary Clinton, on a number of occasions, has sidelined any possibility of sending US troops on the ground in Syria or Iraq but has also refused to give any "blanket statement" thereby hinting toward a possible use of special forces if the need arises.

Bernie Sanders acquiesces to the view of King Abdullah of Jordan that the ISIS cannot be defeated without involving the local states and their soldiers on the ground. In Bernie's view, the US should play a smart role and help this coalition fight against the ISIS without getting directly involved in the Syrian quagmire.

The question that stares right in the face of US voters is whether or not they are ready to accept US playing a second fiddle rather than the leader that it has remained for the most part of post-1990s.

Hillary leads Bernie by a gargantuan margin in terms of super delegates that she already has on her side. While Hillary has close to 500 super delegates supporting her, Bernie has just 19. This Super Tuesday could very well establish as to who would be going head-to-head in the upcoming US presidential elections and the popular vote could also determine loyalties of delegates.


Mirza Arif Mirza Arif @arifmirza22

The writer s a freelance journalist based in New Delhi. He takes a deep interest in International Affairs.

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