With Soleimani’s death, foreign policy enters 2020 primary spotlight


JUDY WOODRUFF: They are some of the gravest
questions candidates have to confront, questions about the use of military force and how and
when they would deploy if they become president. This weekend, the Democrats hoping to unseat
the current commander in chief have been weighing in on his pivotal decision to strike out at
a top Iranian commander. Amna Nawaz begins there. AMNA NAWAZ: In a Democratic primary race dominated
by domestic issues, it was issues of war and peace overseas this weekend that deepened
fault lines in the field. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), Presidential Candidate:
War is the last response to international conflict, not the first. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) AMNA NAWAZ: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
has been the sharpest critic so far of the Trump-directed airstrike that killed top Iranian
military leader Qasem Soleimani. An Iraq War veteran in Dubuque, Iowa, asked
Sanders how he’d prevent another war in the region as president. Sanders, in warning against future U.S. involvement
in the Middle East, highlighted his own record on these issues. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I not only voted against
the war in Iraq. I helped lead the opposition to the war in Iraq. AMNA NAWAZ: In particular, a difference with
former Vice President Joe Biden. Candidate Biden has been stressing his foreign
policy experience on the campaign trail. In Des Moines this weekend, he claimed that he
opposed the Iraq War — quote — “from the very moment” the Bush administration started
that military campaign. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate:
I opposed what he was doing, and spoke to it. AMNA NAWAZ: But as senator in 2002, Biden
voted for the war in Iraq, voicing his opposition in the years that followed. Biden agreed that Soleimani’s alleged crimes
warranted the U.S. targeting him. Still, Biden questioned the Trump administration’s long-term
Middle East strategy. JOSEPH BIDEN: This is a crisis totally of
Donald Trump’s making. AMNA NAWAZ: Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a
former Naval intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan, took a similar approach. PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), Presidential Candidate:
Now, let’s be clear, Qasem Soleimani was a bad figure. He has American blood on his hands.
None of us should shed a tear for his death. But just because he deserved it doesn’t mean
it was the right strategic move. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), Presidential
Candidate: We don’t need more war in the Middle East. AMNA NAWAZ: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth
Warren, who walked back her initial strong support for the airstrike, this weekend questioned
its timing. In an NBC interview, she suggested the president
was trying to distract from other issues. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: We are not safer because
Donald Trump had Soleimani killed. We are much closer to the edge of war. I think the
question people reasonably ask is, next week, Donald Trump faces the start potentially of
an impeachment trial. And why now? I think people are starting to ask, why now did he
do this? AMNA NAWAZ: The new questions about force
and foreign affairs come less than one month before the Iowa caucuses. A new CBS News poll shows a three-way tie
in Iowa among Sanders, Biden and Buttigieg, with Warren lagging in fourth. But she also
got a boost today from a former primary rival: JULIAN CASTRO (D), Former Presidential Candidate:
There’s one candidate I see who’s unafraid to fight like hell. AMNA NAWAZ: An endorsement from former Housing
Secretary Julian Castro, who was the primary field’s only Latino candidate before leaving
the race last week. He is scheduled to join Warren on the trail tomorrow in New York City. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Amna Nawaz.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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