Presidential races

Clinton allies hit Sanders on national security

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Ten former foreign policy officials backing Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential bid are claiming that rival Bernie Sanders is out of his element when it comes to national security matters.

“We are concerned that Senator Sanders has not thought through these crucial national security issues that can have profound consequences for our security,” the former officials write in a letter released Tuesday that marks a new line of attack from the Clinton campaign.

“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,” they add, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The letter runs down a list of grievances with Sanders’s national security record, specifically chiding his calls for Iran and Saudi Arabia to team up as part of the coalition of Arab nations fighting ISIS, despite the deep divide between Sunni and Shia countries, as “puzzling.”

“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,” the officials write.

And while the signers say they all back the Iranian nuclear deal, they disagree with Sanders’s assertion during last Sunday’s debate that America should “move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran.”

“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 foreign policy experts write. 

“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.”

Most of the letter’s authors have also worked in either the administration of Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, or under her while she ran the State Department. Others have also served in other administrations. They include: Jeremy Bash, who served as CIA chief of staff under President Obama and has since started a strategy firm with top Clinton confidante Philippe Reines; Wendy Sherman, the former under secretary of State for political Affairs in Clinton’s State Department who is a long-time Clinton ally; and Ambassador Nicholas Burns, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and is a foreign policy advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Their criticism shows a likely key point of emphasis for the Hillary Clinton campaign as it tries to hold off Sanders less than two weeks before the start of early voting. She’s long portrayed her service as secretary of State as an essential piece of her national security chops. But her vote against the Iraq War was an integral part of Sanders’s early attacks on Clinton.

Tags Bernie Sanders Bill Clinton Hillary Clinton

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