Among the ranks of second tier Democrat candidates in the 2020 Presidential nomination race, one of that group has attracted a substantial amount of attention from debate viewers.
The individual in question is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), especially after she very pointedly confronted fellow Democrat, California Senator Kamala Harris on Harris’ record of presiding over a state department of justice, that continued the existing practices of overincarceration and the needless imprisonment of low level drug offenders (read, Marijuana busts).
Here is that episode with a lead in from an exchange with Joe Biden:
Gabbard, for her part, has been a constant target of critics both in the media and within her party, who have regurgitated policy positions dredged up from the distant past that Gabbard no longer espouses, such as her erstwhile opposition to gay marriage.
Gabbard told CNN, “First, let me say I regret the positions I took in the past, and the things I said. I’m grateful for those in the LGBTQ+ community who have shared their aloha with me throughout my personal journey.”
So this is something she has made amends with the LGBTQ community in regards to, but it is still being dredged up decades later.
She also made a considerable number of enemies in the party during the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination when she resigned as Vice Chair and publicly objected to the manner in which the DNC aligned the convention machinery against Senator Bernie Sanders, to the advantage of Hillary Clinton. That this happened and that Gabbard was right about it, is not in question. It is documented and the party has since apologized to Sanders.
As a device of retribution, Hillary partisans have created and promoted a character assassination campaign against Gabbard and to various degrees, the media has functioned as a conduit for it.
One of the components of it is accusing her of being a fellow traveler with White Supremacists, despite Gabbard taking pains to disavow such associations, telling The Hill:
“I have strongly denounced David Duke’s hateful views and his so-called ‘support’ multiple times in the past, and reject his support. Publicizing Duke’s so-called ‘endorsement’ is meant to distract from my message: that I will end regime-change wars, work to end the new cold war and take us away from the precipice of a nuclear war, which is a greater danger now than ever before.”
Then there is another narrative about Gabbard that is being circulated that Tulsi is some sort of tool of Russian foreign policy. No better example of how clueless and incompetent the purveyors of this trope are, is illustrated by New York Times editorialist, Bari Weiss, who winds up being undressed by Joe Rogan in this exchange:
Merciful as Rogan was, how Weiss is such an airhead and still has a job at the Grey Lady, is beyond imagination.
And finally, Congresswoman Gabbard is being defamed by claims that a Russian bot operation is advancing her campaign. Despite the fact that the sources for this have been tossed off Facebook for having been discovered to have executed false flag operations on social media; it should be obvious that the Russian disinformation apparatus will eventually target every Democrat nominee with customized agit prop tactics designed to point laser beams at each of their vulnerabilities.
It would seem, based on the polling trends and from the observations of most political strategists that Tulsi Gabbard is a long shot candidate who may survive the first wave of dropouts among the excessive number of contestants. Yet she likely will not proceed much further, if for no other reason than the media has already decided who gets light and who gets shade, and what spurs ratings as opposed to what spurs thought. Despite that, we think she brings some valuable issues to the general conversation that are not being addressed by the top tier candidates.
Chief among them are her concerns, as an Army combat field medic in Iraq in 2004 – 2005 and as a Major in the Hawaii National Guard, about persistent trends of American foreign policy – of which the main feature is the tendency to approach pockets of instability internationally by launching military campaigns of regime change. Whether you see it as mercenary on behalf of the interests of multi-national corporations, or a facet of empire overstretch; acting as the world’s police force is unsustainable and corrosive.
Gabbard has walked the walk in terms of that issue. She introduced legislation at the end of 2016 addressing that issue. It is called the Stop Arming Terrorists Act – HR 6504.
In a press release on HR 6504, she stated:
This week, I introduced new legislation called The Stop Arming Terrorists Act. This legislation will prohibit the federal government from using taxpayer dollars to arm and support groups cooperating with or affiliated with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. It will also prohibit the US government from funneling money and weapons through other countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, who are directly or indirectly supporting terrorist organizations like ISIS or al Qaeda.
Shortly after submitting the bill, She visited National Public Radio and commented to host, Scott Simon, that the US government has been:
“quietly supporting allies, partners, individuals and groups who are working directly with al-Qaida, ISIS, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and other terrorist groups by providing them with money, weapons and intelligence support in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.” As a result, Gabbard said, “we will end up with a situation where not only will the Syrian people be under greater human suffering and an even more dire situation.
We will end up with al-Qaida now having far greater military capability, far greater strength and posing a greater threat not only to the region but to the United States and the rest of the world. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Why does our government get a free pass on this?”
Why indeed? And that is a question the American people deserve an answer to. The main provisions of the bill were the following:
- Making it illegal for any U.S. Federal government funds to be used to provide assistance covered in this bill to terrorists. The assistance covered includes weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training, and cash.
- Making it illegal for the U.S. government to provide assistance covered in the bill to any nation that has given or continues to give such assistance to terrorists.
- Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine the individual and groups that should be considered terrorists, for the purposes of this bill, by determining: (a) the individuals and groups that are associated with, affiliated with, adherents to or cooperating with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or ISIS; (b) the countries that are providing assistance covered in this bill to those individuals or groups.
- Requiring the DNI to review and update the list of countries and groups to which assistance is prohibited every six months, in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
- Requiring the DNI to brief Congress on the determinations.
Stephen Kinzer, a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, commented regarding Congresswoman Gabbard’s bill, “The proposal to stop sending weapons to insurgents in Syria is based on the principle that pouring arms into a war zone only intensifies suffering and makes peace more difficult to achieve.”
That the bill would never make its way out of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees , was predictable.
The status quo is entrenched and such a bill would stymie powerful interests among the Defense contracting sector – because, in order to export weapons and initiate regime change operations, an enemy must be created, armed and mobilized. Even so, the bill did have some initial bi-partisan support from such co-sponsors as Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48), and Thomas Massie (R-KT-04).
Since then, Donald Trump, whom Gabbard was criticized for briefly meeting before he took office, to try to talk sense with (to no avail), has preferred to pursue an incomprehensible approach to global threats – coddling a mass murderer or two, excusing the killings of journalists and withdrawing from a nuclear treaty with Iran that was actually working.
Gabbard, discovering that Trump is rudderless in terms of his incredible lack of grasp of what is actually happening in Iraq and Syria, aggravated by the elevation of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to key roles in the administrations’ foreign policy, has gone on the attack of Trump, accusing him of protecting al Qaeda in Syria’s Idlib province, an al Qaeda stronghold.
While Trump claims that ISIS is no longer a threat, (which is a gross oversimplification of the facts), the fact remains that in order not to repeat the policies that grew them into a menace, legislation like that of Congresswoman Gabbard is a needed component in Congressional oversight of misguided policies of the executive branch.