What Is Tulsi Gabbard Fighting For?
by Eoin Higgins, NY Mag, October 18, 2018 (excerpts)
…Gabbard has become a vehicle for the hopes of those who see a potential Gabbard 2020 candidacy (she’s working on a book to be published next year and addressed grassroots organizers in New Hampshire in September) as a way to continue Sanders’s “political revolution.” (Multiple requests for comment to both Sanders’s and Gabbards’s offices went unanswered.) Gabbard has touted her foreign policy credentials as a strength: her campaign website boasts that the Hawaiian congresswoman “has more foreign affairs experience and understanding than most others who are twice her age.” And she’s used her position to push for legislative change on U.S. foreign policy. Her Stop Arming Terrorism Actwould severely curtail U.S. interventionist policies by preventing the U.S. government from funding armed groups that are fronts for known terror organizations.
But ironically, while it was Gabbard’s anti-war bona fides that were both the motivation for her initial run for Congress and the impetus for her rising profile, it is her foreign-policy views that are raising questions on the left.
In her public rhetoric, Gabbard rejects much of U.S. intervention across the world. As a Democrat, that anti-interventionism puts Gabbard to the left of her party’s Establishment. She’s been critical of former President Barack Obama’s foreign-policy positions and priorities, and, again, her Stop Arming Terrorism Act, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Rand Paul, would severely curtail U.S. interventionist policies by stopping American funding of armed groups that are fronts for known terror organizations, specifically Al Qaeda in Syria.
But a steady drumbeat of criticism from progressives claims that Gabbard also has sympathies with Steve Bannon–style nationalists on the hard right, whose foreign-policy view is also fundamentally anti-interventionist. Her detractors argue that her policy overlap with the hard right is consistent and substantive enough that it ought to undermine her credibility as someone who could represent consensus progressive values in the White House.
If “Gabbardism” is a foreign-policy school of thought, it is perhaps best captured by her own words. “In short, when it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk,” Gabbard told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in 2016. “When it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I’m a dove.” It’s a sentiment that wouldn’t be out of place in Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign — or in Pat Buchanan’s in 1992….
…supporters attracted by Gabbard’s old-left anti-interventionism are likely to be less enamored with her stances on anti-terrorism measures. A 2015 vote on a bill that would subject Iraqi and Syrian refugees to the predecessor of Trump’s “extreme vetting” won Gabbard friends in Republican circles. The bill — which did not pass the Senate — required every refugee admitted to the country to receive individual vetting that, according to Representative John Conyers at the time, “would effectively deny refugee status for Syrians and Iraqis who are victims of terrorism in their own homelands.”…
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, spoke highly of Gabbard during the 2016 election. A source from the transition team told the Hill that Bannon loved Gabbard and wanted to work with her “on everything.” That praise precipitated a meeting with the then-incoming president and his team at Trump Tower shortly after the election, at which time it was rumored that Gabbard was in the running for secretary of State.
“She would fit perfectly too [inside the administration],” the source told theHill. “She gets the foreign policy stuff, the Islamic terrorism stuff.”
Gabbard wasn’t appointed to the position — that dubious honor went to Rex Tillerson — but she remains in the Trump orbit: Trump 2020 Advisory Board member Tony Shaffer met with the congresswoman in her office this April….
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