Clinton Campaign Rolls Out Foreign Policy Heavyweights Against Sanders

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January 19, 2016 2:26 pm
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The Hillary Clinton campaign released a new attack on Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Tuesday, using a letter from 10 national security experts and former diplomats to question his foreign policy knowledge.

“Over the past four debates, the subject of ISIS and Iran have come up a number of times. These are complex and challenging times, and we need a Commander in Chief who knows how to protect America and our allies and advance our interests and values around the world,” the experts wrote in the letter highlighted by Clinton’s campaign in a press release. “The stakes are high. And we are concerned that Senator Sanders has not thought through these crucial national security issues that can have profound consequences for our security.”

The letter notes Sanders “lack of a strategy for defeating ISIS” and calls his recent support for more Iranian troops in Syria “dangerous and misguided.”

The experts backing Clinton also criticized Sanders’ call for the U.S. to try to “normalize” relations with Iran during the Sunday night Democratic presidential debate.

“Senator Sanders’ call to ‘move aggressively’ to normalize relations with Iran – to develop a ‘warm’ relationship – breaks with President Obama, is out of step with the sober and responsible diplomatic approach that has been working for the United States, and if pursued would fail while causing consternation among our allies and partners,” the letter reads.

The letter’s signatories include Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large and coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department; Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, the former under secretary of state for political affairs; and retired Lt. General Donald Kerrick, a former deputy national security advisor to the president.

The foreign policy attack from Clinton comes as polling shows Sanders gaining strength in Iowa and New Hampshire, both key primary states.

Read the entire letter:

Over the past four debates, the subject of ISIS and Iran have come up a number of times. These are complex and challenging times, and we need a Commander in Chief who knows how to protect America and our allies and advance our interests and values around the world. The stakes are high. And we are concerned that Senator Sanders has not thought through these crucial national security issues that can have profound consequences for our security.

His lack of a strategy for defeating ISIS – one of the greatest challenges we face today – is troubling. And the limited things he has said on ISIS are also troubling.

For example, his call for more Iranian troops in Syria is dangerous and misguided and the opposite of what is needed. Supporting Iranian soldiers on Israel’s doorstep is a grave mistake. And while we support de-escalation of Sunni-Shia tensions, his argument that Iran and Saudi Arabia – two intense adversaries – should join together in a military coalition is just puzzling. Indeed, the Iranian government recently failed to stop protesters from ransacking and burning the Saudi embassy in Tehran, after which Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Iran.

We are all strong supporters of the nuclear diplomacy with Iran. Some of us were part of developing the policy that produced the diplomacy over the past several years. And we believe that there are areas for further cooperation under the right circumstances. But Senator Sanders’ call to “move aggressively” to normalize relations with Iran – to develop a “warm” relationship – breaks with President Obama, is out of step with the sober and responsible diplomatic approach that has been working for the United States, and if pursued would fail while causing consternation among our allies and partners.

Given these concerns, it is important to ask what he would do on other issues – on Russia, China, our allies, nuclear proliferation, and so much else. We look forward to hearing him address these issues.

We need a Commander in Chief who sees how all of these dynamics fit together – someone who sees the whole chessboard, as Hillary Clinton does.

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