Sanders On Using Defense Budget for Exchange Programs: ‘Bring Farmers From Turkey to Farmers in Iowa’

'A lot of attitudes about foreign policy are based on lack of knowledge'

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders / Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said in a recent interview that Congress should allocate part of the U.S. military budget to foreign exchange programs, suggesting that bringing farmers from Turkey to farmers in Iowa could be an effective form of American foreign policy.

Over the weekend, the New Yorker published a lengthy article, titled "Bernie Sanders Imagines a Progressive New Approach to Foreign Policy," which discusses the senator's views on America's role in the world. The author, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, interviewed Sanders earlier this month for the piece.

"In Sanders's account of global affairs," Wallace-Wells wrote, "Americans have been as likely to be villains as heroes. Six trillion dollars had now been spent on the war on terror since 2001."

"It's an unbelievable amount of money," Sanders told the author. "Is this going to go on forever? Do we really need to spend more than the next ten nations combined on the military, when our infrastructure is collapsing and kids can't afford to go to college?"

Wells then noted how Sanders mentioned an amendment he had offered that would have required one tenth of one per cent of the defense budget "to support exchange programs to bring foreign teenagers to the U.S. and send American kids abroad." Sanders recalled a program he oversaw as the mayor of Burlington, Vt., in the 1980s, in which kids from his city went to the Soviet city of Yaroslavl, and Russian children went to Burlington.

"It was just an incredible experience to see these kids getting along as well as they did," Sanders said. "You know, a lot of attitudes about foreign policy are based on lack of knowledge."

"To bring farmers from Turkey to farmers in Iowa. You know, just to get people to see each other as human beings," the senator added. "I think it could go a distance."