Sanders calls for moving ‘aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran’

US Politics
on 23 Comments

The Democratic presidential nomination debate on Sunday night was remarkable in part for Senator Bernie Sanders’s strong support for normalizing relations with Iran, and Hillary Clinton’s demurral on that same question. It is big news in Israel. The candidates were asked by Andrea Mitchell if it is time to restore diplomatic relations with Iran after 36 years and reopen an embassy in Tehran. You can watch the exchange, at 1:15:15:

Sanders:

“I think what we’ve got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran, understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with: their support for terrorism, the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from some of their leadership is something that is not acceptable. On the other hand, the fact that we managed to reach an agreement, something that I very strongly supported, that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — and we did that without going to war– and that I believe we’re seeing a thaw in our relationships with Iran is a very positive step. So if your question is, do I want to see that relationship become more positive in the future? Yes. Can I tell you that we should open an Embassy in Tehran tomorrow. No I don’t think that we should. But I think the goal has got to be, as we have done with Cuba, to move and warm relations with a very powerful and important country in this world.”

Clinton:

“Well, I’m very proud of the Iran nuclear agreement. I was very pleased to be part of what the president put into action when he took office. I was responsible for getting those sanctions imposed, which put the pressure on Iran, that brought them to the negotiating table, which resulted in this agreement. And so they have been, so far, following their requirements under the agreement. But I think we still have to carefully watch them. We’ve had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more rapidly toward any kind of normalization. And we have to be sure that they are truly going to implement the agreement  and then, we have to go after them on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region, which is causing enormous problems in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.”

This difference is likely to play out in the Democratic primary process. Clinton has been snuggling up to the Israel lobby in such statements about Iran as this one she made in the Forward in November:

We must remain committed to preventing Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon, and to vigorously enforcing the new nuclear agreement. I would move to step up our partnership to confront Iran and its proxies across the region

Earlier on Sunday, Sanders told NBC’s Chuck Todd that President Obama was right about talking to Iran, and Hillary Clinton was wrong, when they differed on that issue in the runup to the 2008 presidential primaries. Politifact:

“It’s funny,” Sanders replied. “If you think back to 2007 during the campaign in which Secretary Clinton ran against Barack Obama, she was critical of him. A question was asked to Obama that said, ‘Would you sit down and talk to the Iranians?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I would.” Point being, you talk to your adversaries. You don’t run away from that. Secretary Clinton, I think, called him naive. Turns out that Obama was right.”

Also note that last year Sanders attacked the “neo-cons” for their warlike approach on Iran.

23 Responses

  1. amigo
    January 19, 2016, 2:12 pm

    “And we have to be sure that they are truly going to implement the agreement and then, we have to go after them on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region, which is causing enormous problems in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.” Clinton

    I guess anyone who makes life difficult for Clinton ,s buddies in SA would be an enormous problem. Is Clinton aware that her Saudi friends are arming ISIS in Syria?,The same ISIS that is such an enormous problem in Iraq.The woman is one very confused person who has sold what is left of her soul to the zionists.

  2. ckg
    January 19, 2016, 3:11 pm

    When Sanders called King Abdullah a “hero”, I think we learned quite a bit about his standards for governance for our allies in the middle east.

    • Kris
      January 19, 2016, 6:14 pm

      King Abdullah a “hero?” In regards to the Syrian refugee crisis, yes, and this is what Sanders was talking about:

      “I think one of the heroes in a real quagmire out there, in a dangerous and difficult world, one of the heroes who we should recognize in the Middle East is King Abdullah II of Jordan. This small country has welcomed in many refugees.
      link to pacifism21.org

      Including the 1.4 million Syrian refugess, there are a total of 2.8 million refugees in Jordan. link to data.worldbank.org

      The Syrian refugees make up 21% of the people now in Jordan.

      Today, Jordan hosts approximately 1.4 million Syrians, of whom 647,000 are registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Of these, only 100,000 live in refugee camps, while another 1.3 million are hosted within local communities. In total, Syrians now make up 21 per cent of Jordan’s 6.7 million inhabitants. link to telegraph.co.uk

      This seems heroic to me.

  3. Stephen Shenfield
    January 19, 2016, 3:42 pm

    Sanders does not depart from American bureaucratese in using “aggressive” as a synonym of “vigorous”. Even in normalizing relations we have to be “aggressive”. Apparently aggression is something positive.

    • Emory Riddle
      January 20, 2016, 10:07 am

      “But I think we still have to carefully watch them. We’ve had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more rapidly toward any kind of normalization. And we have to be sure that they are truly going to implement the agreement and then, we have to go after them on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region, which is causing enormous problems in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere ”

      Typical Zionist BS from Sanders. Can we stop pretending he is a peace and justice candidate? Those folks — Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul — were all removed from consideration for the presidency by the powers that be.

      • WH
        January 21, 2016, 2:24 am

        Those are Clinton’s words.

  4. Keith
    January 19, 2016, 4:32 pm

    PHIL- “Sanders calls for moving ‘aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran’”

    Followed immediately by “…understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with: their support for terrorism, the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from some of their leadership is something that is not acceptable.”

    This is standard imperial boilerplate which you are dishonestly (yes, dishonestly!) trying to imply is some radical departure from imperial foreign policy. The correct reading of the entire sentence is that the US should move aggressively to get Iran to change its unacceptable behavior! Also, Sanders is a strong supporter of Israel and (gasp!) Saudi Arabia, even going so far as to say that Saudi Arabia (Israel’s de facto ally) should get more involved in the ongoing Middle East conflicts.

    “Sanders nonetheless brought it back to Saudi Arabia and insisted that Saudi Arabia should “get their hands dirty” and take a much bigger role in a war against ISIS and generally lead the wars with U.S. support.” (David Swanson) link to counterpunch.org

    Why is it that liberals engage in non-stop self-deception?

    • RoHa
      January 19, 2016, 7:12 pm

      “Why is it that liberals engage in non-stop self-deception?”

      Because they are remarkably similar to the rest of us.

    • rugal_b
      January 20, 2016, 6:15 am

      Sanders has been consistently pushing an antiwar and pro-diplomacy stance way before running for president. A few quotes taken out of context means nought as a form of legitimate criticism. Also, foreign policy cannot be laid out neatly as a pre-election manifesto because it is not entirely up to us, but also depend on the actions other nations wrt to our interests. As such, I believe his general philosophy against war and shifting back the focus onto long festering fomestic issues makes his the absolute best candidate in the coming election, esp compared to the other candidates. The only other candidate with a greater potential than Sanders is Dr. Jill Stein but unfortunately this nation would go through a civil war sooner than electing a great person like herself to be our leader.

      • Emory Riddle
        January 20, 2016, 2:12 pm

        “A few quotes taken out of context means nought as a form of legitimate criticism ”

        You should say that some facts presented that undercut your worldview are to be ignored.

        If you want to be accurate.

        We have decades of quotes from Bernie that underscore his pro war stance.

        Sanders’ socialist beliefs and actions evolved into almost complete support of the Democratic Party after leaving the stage of Vermont politics and entering the national arena. Smith points out that Sanders voted with Democrats more consistently than many other Democrats: Ninety-eight percent of the time at the writing of Smith’s article. Sanders’ support for Democrats soon was reflected in their financing of his campaigns.

        And here is where Sanders greatest equivocation has come. In spite of claims of being antiwar, his “hawkish” support of Clinton’s military actions in the 1999 Kosovo War caused one of his advisers to quit. When antiwar activists occupied Sanders’ office in 1999 because of that support of Clinton’s war policies, he had them arrested.

        In 2001, Sanders did not support the vote in Congress to oppose the war in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Barbara Lee stood alone! This vote was followed by his support for appropriations to support boththe war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2003 he supported the resolution that gave support to George W. Bush in both Iraq and in the larger war against terrorism, although Sanders has been a critic of the Iraq War.

        Then Sanders supported only a gradual withdrawal from Iraq. When impeachment was on the so-called table against George W. Bush in 2006, he said that impeachment was “impractical.”

      • Annie Robbins
        January 20, 2016, 6:44 pm

        In 2003 he supported the resolution that gave support to George W. Bush in both Iraq and in the larger war against terrorism

        link to politifact.com

        When President George W. Bush sought authorization to launch a war in Iraq in October 2002, Clinton and Sanders’ votes were split. Clinton, the junior senator from New York, voted yes. Sanders, then Vermont’s only representative, voted against it after delivering an impassioned speech on the House floor.

        if you have an alternate source that contradicts this info please present it. the only 2003 resolution i am aware of is the UN resolution, which congress didn’t vote on.

      • echinococcus
        January 20, 2016, 11:46 pm

        Annie,

        The Iraq invasion was not really based on the specific Iraq vote but on the 2001 AUMF (Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible
        for the recent attacks launched against the United States),
        link to gpo.gov

        “That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed,
        or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons…”

        The only one in ALL of Congress that had the guts to oppose it was Barbara Lee. Not Sanders, who also praised Bush as your googling will show.

        So all that was needed for Bush was to determine that Iraq “planned, authorized, committed,
        or aided…” etc. Look all that up. That AUMF was even used as the basis of the latest Obama bombings!

        When he spoke and voted against the Iraq resolution, Sanders needed to placate his base in Vermont; they had been seething. Anyway, he later also voted for the budget appropriation for the Iraq war. Yes, it was embedded in a multipurpose bill, but he did vote for it.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 21, 2016, 12:59 am

        who also praised Bush as your googling will show.

        hmm, my googling didn’t show that. could you link to it. thanks!

  5. JWalters
    January 19, 2016, 5:29 pm

    Sanders was the first senator to announce he would boycott Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. Numerous other senators followed him. Hillary has relentlessly parroted her billionaire, “Israel right or wrong” funder Haim Saban. Saban is Adelson’s twin on this issue. Some of Hillary’s most influential campaign contributions thus derive directly from Saban’s profits in the illegally occupied West Bank.

    And that doesn’t even consider the highly profitable Israeli-American military-industrial complex that has been chomping at the bit to have a war in Iran. Hillary’s willingness to “obliterate” Iran in the 2008 campaign was a Ted Cruz type of statement, probably written for her by the same billionaire cabal. Children and families are her top priority – except for Palestinian or Iranian children and families when there’s big money at stake.

    In the present context it’s very dangerous for a prominent person to criticize even the most glaring, egregious crimes of Israel, due to their control of the U.S. establishment media. They would be buried in an avalanche of dutiful demonization from ALL sides. So they must speak carefully.

    But as grass roots awareness grows, the time will ripen. I’d be happy to see a few congressional candidates sacrifice themselves on that political mission to spark the discussion. But I don’t want Bernie to sacrifice the strategic position he has attained.

    • echinococcus
      January 20, 2016, 3:18 am

      Come on, in a world where no president can be made to keep his word for what he did promise, you expect one to do what he did not announce (and never gave a sign of intending to do)? Sanders vehemently defended the Gaza massacre, etc. and seems to scrupulously follow a JPAC/Zionist Bloc line.

      • JWalters
        January 20, 2016, 5:21 pm

        I see your point, and you may be right. On the other hand, Senator Robert Byrd was a KKK member in his earlier years, but later overcame his racism dropped that. Similarly, many Zionists have become anti-Zionists after learning the actual facts. Mondoweiss itself is dedicated to helping people make that shift. I wouldn’t assume Sanders’ mind is encased in concrete on the issue.

        Why do you think Sanders boycotted Netanyahu’s speech?

      • Kris
        January 20, 2016, 8:03 pm

        @echinococcus: “Sanders vehemently defended the Gaza massacre, etc., and seems to scrupulously follow a JPAC/Zionist Bloc line.”

        Sanders did not “vehemently defend” the Gaza massacre, he said Israel used excessive force, and I can’t find any evidence that he follows a JPAC/Zionist Bloc line. Do you have any sources for what you claim?

        ((Sanders’)) relative silence on Israel-related issues, however, seems to have broken during and after the 2014 Gaza conflict, during which 72 Israelis and over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, the majority of them civilians. In an undated statement on his Senate website, Sanders decried “the Israeli attacks that killed hundreds of innocent people – including many women and children,” calling the bombings “disproportionate” and “completely unacceptable.”

        In mid-July 2014, Sanders was one of just 21 Senators not to co-sponsor a resolution expressing support for Israel in the conflict with Hamas. The resolution passed on July 17 by unanimous consent, meaning that no roll call vote was taken on the measure.

        In the video of the August 2014 town hall, recorded while the conflict was still ongoing, Sanders was more equivocal than in the statement now on his website. While asserting that Israel had “overreacted,” and that the bombing of UN facilities was “terribly, terribly wrong,” he also noted that Hamas was launching rockets from populated areas.

        “This is a very depressing and difficult issue,” Sanders said at the town hall. “This has gone on for 60 bloody years.”

        Months after the conflict, in February 2015, Sanders was the first Senator to announce that he would skip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress. “[Netanyahu] doesn’t have the right to inject himself into an American political discussion by being the speaker before a joint session of Congress to criticize the United States,” Sanders said on CNN.

        Read more: link to forward.com

      • echinococcus
        January 20, 2016, 10:51 pm

        Kris,
        That’s how I read his whole demeanor at that Town Hall meeting, shouting to defend “Israel’s right to defend itself”, an absurdity. Yes, then he calms down and makes some noises about overreaction and bombing UN shelters, as if that were the main thing.
        Self-serving stuff on his own web site doesn’t tell me much –I have seen his immediate reaction and that’s way more significant.
        As for not sponsoring some resolutions and not going to the Yahoo reception, well that’s exactly the J Street line. Doesn’t tell me anything.

      • echinococcus
        January 20, 2016, 11:05 pm

        Walters,

        The Yahoo speech to Congress was opposed by “liberal” Zionists, including J Street and the ex-Labor Zionist Bloc, etc. (the most dangerous.) Of course he’d snub the Yahoo visit. That also applies to the “Iran deal” blackmail –the liberal Zionists and Sanders support it –but as you know, Sanders just found another opportunity to reinforce conventional aggressive wisdom about Iran even while talking about the agreement, as if Iran had been the aggressor.
        As for the possibility of anyone changing his mind, of course. A change of mind after committing a crime, say, wouldn’t keep me out of jail; I wouldn’t welcome the idea of electing someone to such a dangerous position anticipating a future, rare change of mind with no evidence of its probability. Besides, he’s been very many years in a position to access information that the common mortal doesn’t get, and he still seems to believe that invaders have a right to defend themselves, or that the US is outside international law.

  6. Kay24
    January 19, 2016, 7:45 pm

    It sounds like that Nut from the only pretend “democracy” in the ME has FINALLY READ THE IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT! Aw, he thought he would be spending time helping the US drops bombs over Baghdad.

    Netanyahu Hated The Iran Deal. Now He’s Taking Credit For It.
    What a difference a few months make.

    link to huffingtonpost.com

  7. echinococcus
    January 20, 2016, 3:12 am

    their support for terrorism…

    Sanders never misses an opportunity to perpetuate and reinforce imperialist received wisdom in his eagerness to head the US so he can support large-scale terrorism –on behalf of the Zionist entity, too.

    • Kris
      January 21, 2016, 12:47 am

      @echinococcus: “Sanders never misses an opportunity to perpetuate and reinforce imperialist received wisdom in his eagerness to head the US so he can support large-scale terrorism –on behalf of the Zionist entity, too.”

      Seriously? There is something rather odd about your shrill insistence that Sanders is a rabid Zionist, despite the evidence that this is not the case. Especially since the truth is that H. Clinton actually is a rabid Zionist.

      Engagement with the Palestinian issue also presents an opportunity to make an additional contrast with Sanders’ chief rival, Hillary Clinton. Clinton wrote a letter to major Israeli-American donor Haim Saban vowing to help fight the Palestinian movement, and recently parroted an Israeli government talking point when she said there cannot be a resolution to the conflict until the nearby civil war and rise of ISIS in Syria are concluded.

      Conventional wisdom says this topic is a political minefield for any Democratic candidate, something that is likely to push pro-Israel donors away from a campaign. But Sanders is not relying on pro-Israel billionaire donors like Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson. The average donation to his campaign is less than $30. And he’s grappling with a Democratic Party whose rising youth and minority base is averse to the politics of the Israeli government; by two to one, Americans under the age of 29 said Israel’s 2014 war against Gaza was “unjustified”; views were most intense among non-white voters, particularly Hispanics and African Americans. link to alternet.org

      • echinococcus
        January 21, 2016, 3:36 am

        Kris,

        I am not obsessed by the comparison to the Empress, or the contrast between the two factions in their party. All I know is that while Clinton-II is behaving as Likud or such, for the money, Sanders is dancing all the steps of a “liberal” or Labor (nka Zionist Bloc) one, possibly out of conviction. The latter are much more dangerous in my book. What is shrill in that, except the dislike of the so-called two parties –both here and in Palestine?
        Also, you are ignoring that my comment was on Sanders’ imperialist, arrogant take on Iran:

        “But I think we still have to carefully watch them. We’ve had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more rapidly toward any kind of normalization. And we have to be sure that they are truly going to implement the agreement and then, we have to go after them on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region, which is causing enormous problems in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere ”

        Also, in the text you quote,

        …by two to one, Americans under the age of 29 said Israel’s 2014 war against Gaza was “unjustified”

        If that is so, then they are not well informed about their favorite candidate, who in 2014 justified it by “Israel’s right to defend itself”, a concept absent from international law.

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