For Bernie Sanders, foreign policy is an afterthought

David Ignatius writes: Sanders’s statements on Syria suggest that he would take a position embraced by many self-described realists. His first priority, he has said, would be a “broad coalition, including Russia,” to defeat the Islamic State. “Our second priority must be getting rid of [President Bashar al-Assad], through some political settlement, working with Iran, working with Russia.”

Some critics would argue that it’s immoral to make replacing a leader who used chemical weapons a secondary concern. But Sanders’s defenders could argue that foreign policy is about making clear choices, especially when they aren’t easy.

Foreign policy just hasn’t been on Sanders’s radar: His campaign website lists 22 important issues. “Income and wealth inequality” is at the top, and 19 are about domestic policy. Just three involve foreign concerns, and one of these is climate change, which Sanders has described as the biggest threat to national security.

Unease about Sanders partly reflects the fact that he seems to have no real foreign policy mentors. The Sanders campaign made comical missteps in the past few weeks when it tried to name his key foreign policy advisers. Several of them said they had briefed the candidate just once or twice; one was a full-time White House staffer. [Continue reading…]

In place of foreign policy advisers, Sanders is most likely relying on foreign policy advice: the less said, the better.

Politically, that might be sound advice during an election campaign, but it has a corrosive effect because it does nothing to challenge the affliction that always distorts the way America deals with the world: the prevailing sense that the rest of the world doesn’t matter.

Isolationists can’t effectively tackle global issues — including climate change.

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