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Bernie Sanders' focus on Clinton's Iraq war vote isn't harping -- it's necessary

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Reprinted from The Guardian

The war was one of the worst foreign policy decisions ever, and its repercussions are still felt. So why do so many claim Bernie is harping on old news?
Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders
Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders
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If there is one thing Bernie Sanders never fails to reference in the Democratic primary, it's Hillary Clinton's vote in favor of the Iraq war. He brought it up after answering a question about gun control, he continually references the vote during Democratic debates and he's made his opposition to the war a cornerstone of his foreign policy. Last week he said, "I don't think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq," and on Sunday, he again questioned Clinton's judgment based on her vote.

The response from some journalists and Clinton supporters has been to derisively question whether he has any other notes, with a tone of: when is he going to stop complaining about something that happened over a decade ago?

He shouldn't stop. If anything, more politicians should be bringing up the Iraq war at every opportunity. The dismissive tone Clinton supporters have taken to the issue belies a callous indifference to the most disastrous foreign policy calamity in our lifetime -- a decision that continues to directly affect US foreign policy across the entire Middle East. It is dangerously shortsighted and an insult to the countless people who died as a result. If anything, we should be talking about the Iraq war more, not less.

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Four thousand five hundred members of the US military died in the Iraq, tens of thousands of Americans were injured or maimed, and at least a half million Iraqis died as a result of the decision to declare war (some estimates put it as high as one million), for starters. Should we stop talking about those unspeakably tragic deaths because most happened 10 years ago, or because the majority of them weren't American?

But beyond the direct destruction caused by Congress and the Bush administration committing more than a $1tn of blood and treasure, it is beyond debate that the current chaos Isis is sowing across the Middle East can be directly attributed to the Iraq invasion, something that even the most hardcore Iraq war architects, like former British prime minister Tony Blair, readily admit.

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)
 

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