Opinion: Response to “Any blue will do — except Tulsi Gabbard”
U.S. Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is without doubt a controversial figure in American politics, even among her own party.
Given her atypical foreign-policy views and other actions, such as resigning as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) for president in 2016, she has ruffled the feathers of many.
That said, last week’s op-ed, titled “Any blue will do — except Tulsi Gabbard,” is flawed, primarily because it claimed that any of the other Democratic candidates would be a solid candidate.
First of all, Gabbard is a veteran who served two different deployments in Iraq and Kuwait; she has seen war up close, from a perspective neither Martin nor I nor the vast majority of people have seen.
She was a medical-unit specialist in a combat zone, where she witnessed the true cost of war up close and watched her brothers and sisters in uniform lose their lives. Her judgement on foreign policy is more valuable than ours — and most politicians as well, as most are former lawyers and not actual foreign-policy experts.
Gabbard has, in fact, called for pulling our troops out of Afghanistan.
“We achieved our original goal of entering Afghanistan,” Gabbard said in 2011. “We’ve killed Bin Laden, decimated al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and given the Afghan people the opportunity to have a democratic country if they choose. It is now time for the Afghan people to take responsibility for their own country.”
Gabbard believes that intervening in foreign affairs that do not pose a direct threat to the U.S. is dangerous. She has routinely argued that when the U.S. intervention in a sovereign state or attempts regime-change is counterproductive, and creates more issues than simply not intervening at all.
She is not saying we have to turn our backs on humanitarian crises, but rather that we should provide aid for the people in the middle of these conflicts, and help them decide their nation’s or government’s own fate.
The op-ed also pointed out that Gabbard “felt it appropriate to meet with Bashar al-Assad after the dictator had gassed his own people” during her time in office. That is true. It is also completely consistent with Gabbard’s approach to foreign policy: avoiding more military conflict at any cost necessary.
Yes, Assad is a brutal dictator, and Gabbard has acknowledged that herself; all it takes is a simple Google search to see her statements condemning his actions. But it is important to ask whether we should be endlessly intervening in conflicts that do not directly threaten the U.S., or if we should be trying to use diplomacy at any cost to prevent more civilian and American deaths.
In interviews, Gabbard has said that Assad is not an enemy of the U.S. She expanded on this point by stating that Assad, again, is a brutal dictator and has committed horrific crimes, however she defines an “enemy” as someone or something that poses a direct threat to the United States.
Gabbard has dubbed herself a “hawk” on terrorism and a “dove” on intervention. Is this really that radical of an idea? I was born in 1999, and the U.S. has been involved in conflicts on the other side of the world for almost my entire life. Most Americans at this time likely cannot even name the numerous countries the U.S. currently has our military fighting or aiding in. This is not normal.
The Constitution does not say a single thing about us policing the rest of the world; this is simply a concept that gained support over time in the past century, and it has resulted in more deaths of Americans and innocent civilians.
Where do we draw the line? Do we have to become involved in every single military conflict throughout the world in order to promote “American values”? Do we have to live through constant U.S.-military intervention to satisfy our “interests”? How many more American soldiers do we need to lose before we decide enough is enough with our intervention-based foreign policy?
Many Americans are increasingly understanding the consequences of war and learning that our foreign policy has been far from perfect. Gabbard’s hesitation to call for military intervention is refreshing, and it would definitely be beneficial to have a soldier crafting our foreign policy — someone who wants war to be a last resort, not a hobby.
Dylan Rosenthal is a sophomore at the university studying political science and public policy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.