Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) made waves last week on morning television when she refused to label Syria’s al-Assad an enemy but instead told the truth: Many of our troops don’t understand “what the clear mission or objective is, and how that mission actually serves the security of the American people and the United States.”
By S.T. Patrick
Forget what you have been conditioned to do in the game of politics. Forget that one label should be cheered, and the opposing label should be jeered. Remember, however, that many of the same lobbyists and billionaire-capitalists support candidates from both parties, thus assuring a profitable win either way. Remember also that politicians from both sides of the political aisle have all overwhelmingly supported the permanent war state. Forget the labels, remember the ideals, and consider the current case of Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
Gabbard stirred up some intra-party commotion when she recently appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski, once a leading globalist and Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor. NBC News correspondent Kasie Hunt asked Gabbard if Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was an enemy to the United States.
Gabbard replied, “Assad is not the enemy of the United States because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States.”
Hunt, appalled at Gabbard’s refusal to label Assad as an enemy, made an unsolicited appeal to Gabbard on behalf of every Democratic voter in the United States. “What do you say to Democratic voters who watched you go over there, and what do you say to military members who have been deployed repeatedly in Syria pushing back against Assad?” asked Hunt.
It must have been baffling to Gabbard that an NBC journalist lacked the basic facts about the events taking place in Syria. American troops are not there to “push back against Assad.”
Journalist Max Blumenthal agreed. He tweeted, “This is such an embarrassing look at the state of corporate American regime media. [Kasie Hunt] doesn’t know the most basic facts about Syria and, along with her co-hosts, doesn’t care to learn.”
Gabbard’s response to Hunt’s assumption that the Hawaiian congresswoman was disappointing all Democratic voters is the reason why Gabbard deserves a fair look.
Gabbard responded: “People who have been deployed to Syria have been there focused on their mission, which has been to defeat ISIS. Our troops have not gone to Syria to wage yet another costly, destructive, regime change war. And many troops I hear from express frustration at the fact that our country continues to wage senseless, costly, regime change wars followed by nation-building missions, leading to situations like we see in Afghanistan. So many examples of our troops being deployed, their lives put on the line, without understanding what the clear mission or objective is, and how that mission actually serves the security of the American people and the United States.”
Scarborough, a former Republican U.S. representative from Florida, jumped in toward the end of Gabbard’s lucid response to demand that she label Assad. If he is not an enemy, what is he? Is he an adversary but not an enemy? Is he like Vladimir Putin? The mainstream media establishment believes in labels. Once the jerseys are donned, American viewers can be dog-whistled to cheer in support or bellow in painful disgust at said labels. Gabbard knows that she doesn’t have to answer a question because it’s asked, and she doesn’t have to respond on command, as if it’s a game show. When Gabbard refused to label Assad, Brzezinski jumped in to ask the same question more pointedly.
“What is Assad to the U.S.? What is the word?” Brzezinski asked, demanding a specific word.
“You can describe it however you want to describe it,” Gabbard told Brzezinski.
Gabbard is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. She knows foreign policy professionally and personally. She is also a major in the Hawaiian Army National Guard, and she has spent a year in Iraq in a field medical unit as a specialist in a combat zone. She enlisted while she was a state representative in Hawaii, a position she’d been elected to at the age of 21, the youngest state representative in Hawaii’s history. She was also deployed to Kuwait in 2008 and 2009.
As one of the young Democratic women in the House (Gabbard was born in the Reagan years), she has also challenged the decisions of the party leadership. As a vice chair for the Democratic National Committee in 2016, she clashed with Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s decision to limit the number of debates within the Democratic primaries. This would, by default, aid the establishment Dems like Clinton and force the younger Democrats and lesser-known senators like Bernie Sanders to raise more money to survive the campaign. In 2008, the Democrats held 26 debates; six were held in 2016. Gabbard resigned her position as vice chair so that she could actively campaign for Sanders, noting that in her position with the DNC she had “checked (her free speech) at the door.”
Gabbard is absolutely a domestic Democrat and supports the same policies as many of the other new, young Democrats. But domestic squabbles are democracy and should happen in a republic. In most cases, domestic policies do not cost Americans thousands of lives. She is an outlier and a breath of fresh air in the realm of foreign policy. She is someone speaking against the permanent war state, and Americans of all political ideologies should listen.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]