POST TIME: 20 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM
Can Sanders or Warren clinch the Democratic nomination?
S. Suresh

Can Sanders or Warren clinch the Democratic nomination?

The Democrats have been trudging along this presidential primary as though this were any normal election and the usual rules of politics during the primary nomination phase apply in 2020 as well. On the heels of being impeached by the House of Representatives, President Donald Trump launched a drone strike killing an Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.

Trump’s reckless action showed his utter disregard for Congress, pushed US and Iran into a state of heightened tension and sparked fears of more instability in the Middle East. Thumbing its nose at the Democrats, the Trump administration has now taken the position that killing Soleimani was justified whether or not he posed an imminent threat. Democrats have wasted valuable time not realizing that the 2020 presidential election will be anything but normal. It has taken them more than eight months to whittle down the extraordinarily long list of hopefuls seeking a chance beat the incumbent Republican to a dozen. Six of them — Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, former Vice President Joe Biden, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg and billionaire investor Tom Steyer — had met the requirements set by the Democratic National Committee and took the stage for their party’s 7th debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, January 14.

In addition to the usually debated topics on health care, immigration, climate change, foreign policy, economic inequality, government structure and education, the impeachment proceedings against Trump and the aftermath of his imprudent actions against Iran set the stage for the last debate before the Iowa caucuses. It was no surprise that the recent turn of events in the Middle East meant the first few questions to the candidates were around American foreign policy and their qualification for the role of commander-in-chief of the United States of America. Sanders wasted no time in calling out the lies of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and his opposition to the Iraq War in 2002. He also pointed out the other huge blunder in America’s foreign policy that got it embroiled in the Vietnam War. Sanders essentially reiterated his non-interventionist foreign policy that would rely on negotiations with adversaries in close collaboration with allies over military intervention and armed conflicts. Senator Warren minced no words when she said that she would pull back all American troops deployed in the Middle East back and put an end to the corruption between the defense industry and the Pentagon. Biden was apologetic about his support of the Iraq War but touted his role in the troop reduction in the region during the Obama administration.

Buttigieg, who was deployed to Afghanistan as a naval intelligence officer, talked about the emerging threats to national security in the form of cyberattacks. He was the only person to bring up the topic of executive powers granted to the president post 9/11 and argued that they ought to be revisited, lest they be misused the way Trump did in his recent drone attack in Baghdad to target General Soleimani. The debating candidates were more or less unanimous in how they would deal with Iran and North Korea. Their approach would rely on undoing the damage caused by Trump and his administration in both countries, ensuring Iran remains non-nuclear, and applying pressure on North Korea with the help of China and Japan.

The writer is a commentator

 on US politics