Sen. Sanders: “When I look back upon American history, I remember the two most significant foreign policy mistakes our country made in the modern era, and those are the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. And let us be clear—we were led into both of those wars by a series of lies.”
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This morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced the introduction of the No War Against Iran Act at a Capitol Hill press conference alongside colleagues Senators Leahy (D-Vt.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Representatives Khanna (D-Calif.), Lee (D-Calif.), and Jayapal (D-Wash.).
Here are Senator Sanders’ remarks :
“I would like to thank all my colleagues for being here with me this morning, and for joining me in introducing this very important bill—a bill which would prevent any funds from being used for a war with Iran without Congressional approval.
In the Senate this bill is being co-sponsored by Senators Schumer, Leahy, Markey, Wyden, Gillibrand, Baldwin, Cantwell, Warren, Van Hollen, Harris, Blumenthal, and Merkley.
“Let me also say that I’m very pleased that the House leadership has committed to seeing that Congressman Khanna’s similar bill and Congresswoman Lee’s repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force both come up for votes, and look forward to working with them to get our legislation passed in the Senate.
“When I look back upon American history, I remember the two most significant foreign policy mistakes our country made in the modern era, and those are the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. And let us be clear—we were led into both of those wars by a series of lies.
“The result: the war in Vietnam cost us 59,000 American deaths and many others who came home wounded in body and spirit. In fact, a whole generation was devastated by that war. The casualties in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are almost incalculable.
“In 2002 and 2003, in terms of Iraq, we were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, that he was working with Al Qaeda, and that we needed to invade Iraq unless we wanted to see another 9/11—or even worse, a nuclear attack.
“Those claims were lies.
“The war in Iraq led to the deaths of some 4,500 U.S. troops, and the wounding—physical and emotional—of tens of thousands of others. It led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and the displacement of over 5 million people.
“The war in Iraq cost trillions of dollars—money that could have been spent on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, education, health care, and environmental protection.
“And after all that, the Iraqi parliament voted earlier this week to boot U.S. forces out of the country.
“And now we have a president who abandoned a nuclear agreement we signed with our allies, has turned to a policy of escalation, and appears to be walking us toward another disastrous war in the Middle East.
“And let’s be clear: another war in the Middle East could cost 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.
“I will do everything that I can as a United States Senator to prevent such a war.
“Just as we were led into Vietnam and Iraq by lies, the Trump administration is misleading us on Iran. They have justified the assassination of Qassem Solemani by claiming that he was planning “imminent attacks” on hundreds of Americans in the region. And yet they produce no evidence that would justify this claim, not even in a classified setting.
“And that is why it is so important that we are all here today together. Because under our Constitution, it is the Congress that has the responsibility for declaring war, not the president. Our Founding Fathers understood that it was only too easy for a president to lead the country into a disastrous military conflict. That is why they gave the exclusive power over war and peace to the people’s elected representatives.
“We cannot remain bystanders right now. It is imperative that the United States Congress provide the kind of leadership that our country needs by passing this legislation and defending the Constitution and the rule of law.
“Last year, I am proud to have helped lead the effort to pass a War Powers Resolution on Yemen, in which the Congress, for the first time in history, used the powers laid out in the 1973 War Powers Act to constrain the president on matters of war. While President Trump vetoed that resolution there is no question that it played a major role in signaling to the region that the American people do not support the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
“And now is the time for us to once again come together and make certain that the president will not have one penny to spend on a war in Iran unless there is Congressional authorization.”