Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Jointly Urge Against War With Iran

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Jointly Urge Against War With Iran

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, joined forces on Wednesday to help rally progressive opposition to a war with Iran and to blame President Trump for his role in the Middle East crisis even as the threat of open conflict appeared to subside.

In a call on Wednesday night that included thousands of listeners and was hosted by MoveOn and other left-leaning advocacy groups, Ms. Warren acknowledged that there appeared to be “a pause in the hostilities, for now” after Mr. Trump, earlier in the day, backed away from further military action against Iran and said the United States was “ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”

Ms. Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, said she hoped the peace would continue, but also renewed her criticism of the president.

“Let’s be clear — this is a crisis of Donald Trump’s making,” she said. “The first job of the president of the United States is to keep America safe. But this president’s reckless actions have made us far less safe.”

Mr. Sanders, Independent of Vermont, who followed about 25 minutes later, sounded a somber note as he discussed what he called a “very, very dangerous moment in American history.” He recalled that people he knew had been killed in Vietnam and said he had been lied to repeatedly as a member of Congress about reasons for entering war in Iraq. And like Ms. Warren, he sought to hold Mr. Trump directly responsible for the crisis.

“The lesson is that war should be avoided in every way that we can,” Mr. Sanders said. “War is a last response, not the first response. And what I’m seeing today from Trump is the same old, same old — same lies.”

The phone conference came as a tense day in Washington wound to a close and signaled that the leading Democratic presidential candidates would continue to hammer Mr. Trump over his handling of Iran even as he signaled his willingness to draw down hostilities.

Mr. Trump used a televised statement on Wednesday to call for renewed diplomacy, days after ordering a drone strike that killed Iran’s top security commander.

Early Wednesday, Iran’s government indicated that it had “concluded proportionate measures,” having avenged the killing of the commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, by firing ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American troops. The missiles harmed no Americans or Iraqis.

In his statement, Mr. Trump said that “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”

Lawmakers in both parties welcomed Mr. Trump’s decision to pull back from further military action, but Democrats expressed dissatisfaction with briefings provided on Wednesday about the supposedly “imminent” threat of attack cited in justifying the drone strike on General Suleimani. Some Republicans also expressed anger that the White House had not included lawmakers in the decision-making process.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced that the House would vote on Thursday on a measure that would curtail Mr. Trump’s war-making power.

Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have justified the strike by noting that General Suleimani, who was designated by the United States as a terrorist, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Tuesday that attacks orchestrated by General Suleimani had been expected within “days,” and many Republicans, including some who are often critical of Mr. Trump, said that the drone strike made the nation safer. Democrats have also said that General Suleimani should face justice. But other officials have questioned whether an attack was in fact imminent.

All of the leading candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president have for days excoriated Mr. Trump for his handling of the Iran crisis.

On Tuesday, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered a forceful and detailed critique of the Trump administration, faulting the president for bringing the nation “dangerously close” to war. The same day, on the ABC program “The View,” Ms. Warren made a similar comment, saying Mr. Trump had “moved us close to the edge of war” and argued that “having killed Suleimani does not make America safer.”

Mr. Sanders has called the strike on General Suleimani an “assassination” and used the moment to highlight his longstanding antiwar credentials. And former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., a military veteran, has emphasized his personal experience in a war zone.

During the “#NoWarWithIran” strategy call on Wednesday night, Ms. Warren reiterated many of the points she had made on “The View,” noting the withdrawal of American citizens from the region because of safety worries and saying Mr. Trump had tweeted “threats of war crimes” by threatening to strike cultural sites.

“This is the moment that Americans need to speak up and say: We do not want another war in the Middle East; we do not want a war with Iran,” she said. “War with Iran would be bad for us, bad for the region and bad for the world.”

For his part, Mr. Sanders pledged to do “everything that I can to prevent this war.”

“This country has enormous needs,” he said. “We have to invest in affordable housing, invest in education. You know what we don’t have to invest in? We don’t have to invest in another endless war.”

Katie Glueck contributed reporting.


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