Sanders speaks on Middle East, climate change


Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped in Anamosa on Jan. 3 while on the campaign trail. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

It was standing room only during Sanders’ visit to the National Motorcycle Museum last week. He took questions from audience covering a wide range of issues.
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders welcomed a full house at the National Motorcycle Museum on Jan. 3. 

Sanders prepared a speech similar to what he’s been sharing while on the campaign trail; however, due to the late night news regarding the death of Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, Sanders changed his comments at the last minute. He spent 10 minutes addressing wars with Iraq and Iran.

Sanders noted that President Trump “ordered the assassination of a top Iranian general (Soleimani) in Iraq, along with the leader of an Iraqi militia. 

“This is a dangerous escalation that brings us closer to another disastrous war with the Middle East, which could cause countless lives and trillions more dollars and lead to even more deaths, more conflict, more displacement in that already highly volatile region of the world.” 

Sanders said he voted against the War in Iraq in 2002 because he felt it would result in a greater conflict for the United States. 

“At that time, I warned about the deadly so-called unintended consequences of a unilateral invasion,” said Sanders. “Today, 17 years later, that fear has unfortunately turned out to be true.” 

He shared some facts and figures regarding the wars in the Middle East: 4,500 U.S. soldiers fighting overseas. Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Trillions of dollars spent on war. 

“The result, today we have massive unrest in that country, we have corruption in that country, we have terrible poverty in that country, and now Iraqis want American troops out,” said Sanders. “All of that suffering, all of that death, all of that huge expenditures of money for what?” 

Sanders shared a statement he made in 2002 when opposing war at that time: “War must be the last recourse in our international relations. As a caring nation, we must do everything we can to prevent the horrible suffering that a war would cause.” 

He said Trump ignored the advice of his security officials when making the recent decisions that were made. He reminded people that Trump promised the American people he would pull out of all wars. 

“Tragically, his actions now put us on the path to another war, potentially one that could be even worse than before,” said Sanders. 

He wants the United States to work with all international partners and nations to end world conflicts, end the threat of war. 

Sanders’ biggest issue of the day centered on growing the middle class, which he called a moral and economic issue. He said it’s not just about growing the income level, but adjusting the inequality that exists in the U.S. 

“We need an economy and a government that works for all of us, not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors,” he said. “There is something profoundly wrong when the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 92 percent.” 

Sanders said he would work to create an economy that serves the working families, not the top 1 percent. 

“This is not radical stuff. This is stuff that is pretty commonsensical. It’s what the American people want.” 

He said in a country that is one of the wealthiest in the world, our education system isn’t working. Sanders wants to see teachers paid what they deserve, nothing less than $60,000 a year. 

He wants to see college affordable for all who wish to get a college degree, no matter the income. 

“If Congress, against my vote, can bail out the crooks on Wall Street, we can make sure that our public colleges and universities are tuition free and we can cancel all student debt in this country,” Sanders said. 

Sanders proposed paying for college through a “modest tax on Wall Street. 

“We bailed out Wall Street; it’s time for Wall Street to help the working families of this country.” 

He also wants to see healthcare offered and affordable to all, a concept that goes back 100 years to Teddy Roosevelt. 

Sanders also addressed climate change as being very real and having a huge, lasting impact on the world as we know it today. He said scientists are not exaggerating when they tell us that if we don’t act now, disaster is waiting behind the next door. 

“Anybody who tells you, as Donald Trump does, that climate change is a hoax is not only lying to you but is really endangering the lives and wellbeing of their own children and future generations. It’s astounding to me that people are prepared to ignore what the scientists are telling us.” 

Sanders said if the government doesn’t invest in protecting the country, the world, what is the alternative? 

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