Bernie Sanders should not get a pass on foreign policy

Curiously, the debate moderators, campaign reporters and hosts on the Sunday talk shows are taking it pretty easy on Sen. Sanders when it comes to the rough-and-tumble world that we live in. Either I haven’t been paying enough attention, or the likes of NBC’s Chuck Todd and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer would rather talk to Sanders about his poll numbers in relation to Secretary Hillary Clinton rather than what a President Sanders would do on Iran, ISIL and Afghanistan, or how a President Sanders would leverage America’s diplomatic and military might around the world. The fact that a small sliver of the fourth Democratic Debate on January 17 delved into foreign policy and national security issues should have been very concerning to Americans of both parties. The president of the United States is not only economist-in-chief and middle-class supporter-in-Chief, but also commander-in-chief.

Sanders should be let off the hook. How would he wage the war against the Islamic State, an organization that will continue to plan attacks against the U.S. and its Arab and European allies and continue to govern land well after President Obama leaves office?

Would a President Sanders do anything differently than the present strategy? Simply restating that he voted against the war against Saddam Hussein is not an adequate answer. In fact, it’s irrelevant to the issue at hand: degrading and defeating the Islamic State militarily, squeezing its finances, taking out its leadership and helping Iraqis and Syrians to create the kinds of political conditions on the ground that will ensure that Bashar al-Assad is finally out and Iraq’s Sunnis are enrolled as partners in a united, technocratic national government in Baghdad.