Bernie Sanders scathingly denounces Donald Trump's Iran policy

Bernie Sanders told CBS that he doesn't believe Trump deserves credit for showing restraint toward Iran

By Matthew Rozsa
June 23, 2019 6:30PM (UTC)
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(Getty/Mark Wilson)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told CBS' "Face the Nation" that he does not believe President Donald Trump deserves credit for showing restraint in his military response toward Iran in an interview that aired on Sunday.

After host Margaret Brennan asked Sanders whether Trump made the right decision by calling off a strike against Iran, the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate argued that the Iran crisis only exists because of Trump's own ineffective foreign policy.


"See, it's like somebody setting a fire to a basket full of paper and then putting it out," Trump told Brennan. "He helped create the crisis and then he stopped the attacks. The idea that we're looking at the president of the United States who number one, thinks that a war., with Iran is something that might be good for this country."

"He was just doing a limited strike of just a limited strike," Brennan replied. Sanders responded to her comment by sarcastically stating, "Oh, just a limited strike- well, I'm sorry. I just didn't know that it's okay to simply attack another country with bombs just a limited strike — that's an act of warfare."

Sanders added, "So two points. That will set off a conflagration all over the Middle East. If you think the war is either- the war in Iraq, Margaret was a disaster I believe from the bottom of my heart that the war- a war with Iran would be even worse, more loss of life never ending war in that region, massive instability. We're talking about, we have been in Afghanistan now for eighteen years. This thing will never end. So I will do everything I can number one to stop a war with Iran. And number two here's an important point. Let's remember what we learned in civics when we were kids. It is the United States Congress, under our Constitution, that has warmaking authority not the president of the United States. If he attacks Iran in my view that would be unconstitutional."


During an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" with Chuck Todd that also aired on Sunday, the president claimed that he asked his military advisers "how many people will be killed, in this case Iranians?'" if the United States proceeded with planned military strikes. He claimed that after the response was that 150 would be killed, "I thought about it for a second and I said, 'You know what? They shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it. And here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead.' And I didn't like it. I didn't think it was, I didn’t think it was proportionate."

Trump also threw shade at his national security adviser, John Bolton, who has a reputation for being hawkish in his foreign policy recommendations.

"I have some hawks. Yeah, John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he'd take on the whole world at one time, okay?" Trump told Todd.


Correction: This article originally misidentified Margaret Brennan as "co-host" of the show.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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