US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has given another indication of the revolutionary foreign policy changes he has pledged to usher in if elected in 2020. He has already hinted that under his premiership it would not be business as usual, where the Zionist state is annually gifted billions of dollars in aid.
Unlike his rival Joe Biden who believes that the aid to Israel is the best investment made by the US and that if America’s greatest ally in the region did not exist it “would have to invent one to make sure [our] interests were preserved,” Sanders has hinted that US aid to Israel should not be unconditional.
When it comes to the Middle East, Sanders has set himself apart from every other candidate. He famously expressed outrage over Israel’s decision to ban Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Israel and the occupied West Bank. “The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation, which by the way we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, is clearly an outrage,” was Sanders’ response to the controversial decision.
It was, however, his willingness to contemplate cutting aid to Israel that raised his profile as the most progressive candidate. “If Israel doesn’t want members of the United States Congress to visit their country to get a first-hand look… maybe they can respectfully decline the billions of dollars we give to Israel,” he said in protest against Israel’s decision to ban his Democrat colleagues.
Sanders is also the most senior proponent of reversing US policy towards Saudi Arabia, which is another country in the Middle East that, despite its unsavoury track record of committing serious human rights violations, is granted full US backing.
Yesterday, Sanders doubled down on getting tough with Riyadh by raising the prospect of ending American support for the kingdom. He signalled a major change by suggesting that under his premiership, if Riyadh failed to end its wars, the US would not spend trillions of dollars on the kingdom. Addressing a crowd during the campaign trail he said: “What President Bernie Sanders would do is bring Saudi Arabia, bring Iran around the table and say, ‘You know what? We’re not going to spend trillions of dollars sorting out your laundry. Get it together. Stop your damn wars, alright?’”
Sanders spoke of overhauling America’s entire foreign policy in the region. “I think in many ways we need to rethink our relationship with countries in the Middle East,” he added. “I think we have got to end the US approach which supports Saudi Arabia and just attacks verbally or otherwise Iran.”