(This article is published in Salon.)
The internationally illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq was “the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country,” Bernie Sanders declared, in a jab at Hillary Clinton, who supported the disastrous war.
Sparks were flying Tuesday night in the first 2015 Democratic presidential debate. Foreign policy, the second issue addressed (after guns), was not a big topic of discussion overall, but it was here that large differences between candidates were visible.
Hillary Clinton — who supported the Iraq War; previously defended torture; applauded the bombing of Libya, famously remarking “We came, we saw, he died” after Qadhafi was killed; and oversaw the U.S. drone war, in which targets are assassinated without charge or trial — has a reputation of being a war hawk. Although she toned down some of her views in the debate, many of her hawkish foreign policy positions were quite reminiscent of those of mainstream Republicans.
Like most Republicans, Clinton said she wants the U.S. to “take more of a leadership position” in the world militarily. Sanders, on the other hand, explicitly opposed unilateral U.S. military action and called for working with regional coalitions in conflict-ridden areas.
Clinton’s right-leaning tendencies were most evident in her discussion of Iran. She reserved particular ire for the country — which was mentioned 14 times in the debate.