The Atlantic

Even Democrats Keep Thinking Iran Is Worse Than Saudi Arabia

The 2020 candidates are resisting the latest brush with war, but they’re not going far enough.
Source: U.S. Navy via AP

Updated at 11:42 a.m. ET on May 22, 2019.

With ideas like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders are challenging the ideological parameters that have defined American domestic policy since the Reagan era. If only they were doing so on foreign policy too.

Consider their responses to President Donald Trump’s recent escalation with Iran. Yes, one Democrat after another has called on Congress to prevent Trump from going to war. But Democrats have not frontally challenged the core assumption underlying Trump’s belligerence: that Iran is a uniquely malevolent actor in the Middle East.

Even as he criticized Trump’s recent actions, Representative Seth Moulton last week called Iran “a major threat to our national security.” In a statement emailed by her staff, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand condemned its “malign activities.” Senator Cory Booker has in the past insisted that the United States “be more vigilant than ever in fighting Iranian aggression.”

By echoing the GOP’s confrontational language, these Democrats are forgetting a crucial lesson of the Iraq War. America didn’t invade Baghdad only because people such as John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, misrepresented

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