A new reason to love Bernie Sanders: during last night's Democratic Party presidential debate he singled out Jordan's King Abdullah II for leading moderate paths to Middle East peace, and for actually taking in refugees from Iraq and Syria while the rest of the world agonizes shamefully about them.
Here's what Sanders said, prompted by a question about how to prevent terrorism in the USA:
I do not believe in unilateral American action. I believe in action in which we put together a strong coalition of forces, major powers and the Muslim nations. I think one of the heroes in a real quagmire out there, in a dangerous and difficult world, one of the heroes who we should recognize in the Middle East is King Abdullah II of Jordan. This small country has welcomed in many refugees.
And Abdullah said something recently, very important. He said, “Yes, international terrorism is by definition an international issue, but it is primarily an issue of the Muslim nations who are fighting for the soul of Islam. We the Muslims should lead the effort on the ground.” And I believe he is absolutely right.
While Bernie Sanders is hardly going out on a limb here, it felt surprising to hear these words because it is so rare for an American politician to praise the leadership of any Arab nation with simple and unconditional words. It's a reminder to all of us in the USA that we live far away from the twin horrors of Daesh and Assad's Syria, and that those civilians and politicians who live nearby need our help and moral support more than we need theirs.
Bernie Sanders' brief mention did create a stir. As the International Business Times notes, it even seems strange for an American democratic socialist to praise a monarchist. Others might easily point out many ways in which Jordan's government falls short of moral standards. Still, it was refreshing to hear Bernie Sanders single out a global peacemaker by name, and without embarrassment or reservation. We often ask, where are the peacemakers? Sometimes it takes as much courage to stand with the good guys as it does to fight against the bad ones.