As U.S. officials repeated their message that the American public should prepare for “a long-term” war against the Islamic State militant group (also known as ISIS) in the Midde East, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday was among those calling out the Obama administration for pursuing a failed and misguided policy towards the group and the region overall.
“The question we have got to ask,” said Sanders on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, “Is why are the countries in the region not more actively involved? Why don’t they send see this as a crisis situation? Here’s the danger […] if the Middle East people see this as the United States vs. ISIS, the West vs. East, Christianity vs. Islam—we’re going to lose that war.”
Sanders acknowledged that ISIS is a serious regional threat, but said that his larger worries come from what he hears from constituents in his home state of Vermont and around the country, that “people are saying, ‘Yeah, we’re concerned about ISIS, but we’re also concerned about the collapse of the American middle-class and our infrastructure which is falling apart and the need to create jobs.'”
On Saturday, the New York Times reported that even the so-called “moderate rebels” in Syria have become disillusioned with U.S. military intervention.
Despite reports like that, appearing on Sunday’s Meet The Press on NBC, Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice repeated to viewers what other top White Officials, and President Obama himself have been repeating all week, that U.S. forces “were only in the early stages of what is going to be […] a long-term effort.”
But on CNN, Sanders said that is exactly the problem. “We have been at war for 12 years. We have spent trillions of dollars,” he said. “What I do not want, and I fear very much, is the United States getting sucked into a quagmire and being involved in perpetual warfare year after year after year. That is my fear.”
Watch Sanders’ interview on CNN:
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Offering analysis for The Independent on Sunday, journalist Patrick Cockburn said the U.S. strategy against ISIS was “in tatters,” as he mentioned how over the weekend ISIS forces had continued their assault on the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani, which sits on the border of Turkey, while also gaining new ground in Iraq, both in Anbar Province and on the outskirts of Bagdad. According to Cockburn:
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On Saturday, the United Nations warned of a massacre of Kurdish civilians if Kobani was to fall to ISIS, but reports on Sunday made it hard to determine how likely that scenario continues to be. Though many discussed an ISIS victory as a foregone conclusion after Turkey refused to intervene on behalf of the mostly Kurdish population there, the Washington Post on Sunday reported that the Kurdish fighters who remain in the city have been able to push back the attack. According to the Post: