Gabbard’s Gambit: Forlorn Hope or…?

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By Dr. Alan Ned Sabrosky*

The announcement last week by four-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) that she was entering the 2020 presidential sweepstakes caught many people by surprise. What was equally surprising was the virulence of the opposition to her candidacy that erupted across the political spectrum – well, almost across, so far the Anarchist International and Aryan Nation have not (yet?) made their positions known.

Into the Fray

She has been assailed variously as a Kremlin stooge, a Syrian puppet, an anti-Semite and homophobic for not immediately supporting same-sex marriage (she reversed that position in 2012) – all of which taken together makes me really, really despair of what is becoming of this country, and wonder why anyone should even want to be president of such a moral and ethical ship-wreck in the first place. Who knows when candidates should be required to do to prove their commitment to “equality” (or whatever) once necrophilia becomes a civil right – don’t laugh, transgenderism is only marginally less psychotic – maybe call for open cemeteries and be seen in one doing grave things?

But if one’s character and potential grow with the list of one’s enemies, as the old saying goes, then Tulsi Gabbard ought to be a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination for President, and an odds-on favorite to win the 2020 general election. Now, I expect she realizes that her candidacy is a very long shot, and may simply be intended to position her for a later run for a Senate seat from Hawaii, or perhaps a shot at being the successful Democratic presidential candidate’s running mate. Both of these make better strategic sense. But it isn’t unprecedented for someone to enter from left or right field to win, and stranger things have happened in American politics.

Still – deliberately or not – it has thrown a real monkey wrench into the 2020 primaries for both parties, especially if she garners support – and having both brains and beauty, plus an impressive speaking ability and a real skill at debating – she may well do. Trump loyalists notwithstanding, Republicans looking for an alternative to Trump in 2020 that will let them keep the White House and the Senate, and perhaps regain the House of Representatives, will review their list of likely contenders with something approaching dismay. Democrats generally will be even unhappier, anticipating just what will happen in a debate with her, while contenders like Senator Elizabeth Warren (with or without her feather) can only picture in their nightmares how they will look and sound standing next to her.

 

Beyond Images

But image and impact alone are not enough. We do have enough hard information about Gabbard to assess what she is, and what we might expect from her – concentrating here on defense and foreign policy (my areas). One thing that is absolutely clear is that she does not fit comfortably into any of the conventional boxes – one reason talking/writing heads across the political spectrum have been attacking her. We have not quite come into the era when “true believers” completely dominate politics and commentary, but the center in both has been shrinking for decades and “moderation” is close to being an anachronism. Whether her unsuitability for the standard array of pigeon-holes reflects a lack of focus or an eclectic pragmatism remains to be seen.


Second, her willingness to step outside of the preferred party mainstreams – both parties, let it be known – has been amply demonstrated in her dealings with Syria and on Russia during both Obama’s and Trump’s years in office. She doesn’t completely break ranks, of course, but she has entered enough discordant notes to the preferred narrative out there to be noticeable. This is especially the case with the seemingly endless misnamed “war on terror” in which the United States largely has become the world’s principal “evil empire,” not so much envied as feared and hated. Younger people might neither notice nor care, but I do.

My only real concern about Gabbard in this respect is that she might not survive politically any serious effort on her part to say, “Enough!” There are more than enough forces out there with vested interests in continuing things the way they are going. It isn’t simply a coincidence that the owners of almost all of the mainstream media, the principal financial donors to both major parties, and the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill – AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) – have gleefully watched the U.S. and its “allies” rampage across the Middle East trashing all of Israel’s enemies except – so far – Iran.

And third, of course, is Iran itself, which along with dealing with AIPAC would be the acid test of Gabbard’s candidacy and (if elected) her  presidency. A bit of perspective here is helpful. In 1956, President Eisenhower could order Britain, France and Israel to stop attacking Egypt and withdraw – and all three complied. Less than a dozen years later, following the assassination under highly suspicious circumstances of John F. Kennedy – the last U.S. president, incidentally, to openly defy Israel – Israel’s influence in and over the U.S. government had increased so greatly that it could deliberately attack and nearly sink an American naval vessel – the USS Liberty – killing or wounding over 200 American sailors and Marines, and get away with it.

AIPAC’s influence has only grown since those days, as evidenced by the level of support it enjoys on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. The most recent vote in the House of Representatives pushed by AIPAC was approved 411 to 1 (Gabbard voted for it) – given the stalemate in the Senate, it isn’t clear what will happen to it. But it certainly isn’t going to go away, despite nagging issues like violation of 1st Amendment rights – the definition of “anti-Semitism” having been broadened to include criticism of Israel.

The final test will come on the issue of war with Iran. Israel and its adherents in the U.S. have been pushing that for years, and I expect if the Iraqi and Afghan resistance had been less determined, they would have gotten their war – not necessarily the outcome they expect, but the war nonetheless. How would Gabbard deal with these issues? Can she deal with them? She has enormous potential and many good qualities, and I spent too many years in Washington and around the Hill to be a purist, but I cannot really feel the pressure someone like her must be under steadily. The problem is that folding on small issues like this recent House vote makes it harder to avoid folding on larger issues, and she knows – I hope – that there is no issue larger than another of these needless wars. Perhaps she’ll surprise us all – but she had better be damn-all careful to watch her back if she tries.

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*Dr. Alan Ned Sabrosky (PhD, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran. He served two tours in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division and is a graduate of the US Army War College. He can be contacted at [email protected]

 


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10 COMMENTS

  1. One might wonder if becoming an Independent candidate might enhance her chance of replacing The Donald. Such a move might distance her from that nest of vipers in her workplace. Seeing her take over Trump’s populist voter movement, would be easy to imagine. A negative article in the NYT, proving that she’s not one of the compromised, might make it a done deal.

  2. She might make a good running mate for Bernie. He needs defense help and she needs finance.
    My optimism is, that a field of strongly opinionated qualified people, will have a good debate, and just the fact that 3 women have announced is a positive step. Agendas that normally could just slink around in the shadows, behind a given candidate will be forced into the open, in a time that discernment is growing.
    That said, she is more of a driver, than a leader. She will gather a decent following into her net, giving her more street credit as she continues her career. She should resign from active duty immediately. My favorite quote from her is ” being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not America first “

  3. Impossible ! NOT without the Kosher stamp of approval . That means she would be sold out and bought off by APAIC . I have been around long enough and seen enough politics to see through the BS and seen just how the Kosher Nostra runs this country .

  4. The basic problem is one can’t simply switch parties to fight the Israel lobby because it owns both. Both parties love military and military spending. What might help would be a return to the 99% tax rates to shift some of those billions of dollars from bribing Congress and others to
    say reducing the debt but most members of Congress have long forgotten the debt because frankly they seem to spend unlimited amounts of borrowed and printed dollars without any consequences to inflation or anything else. How far can we go in the hole before something breaks? If government can print all the dollars its heart desires why not citizens just printing dollars on a copy machine instead of working? Why not government write a check for $1 million to every family to solve the problem of poverty and even healthcare? Isn’t this exactly what they are doing to support the corrupt secret CIA and Pentagon and much more off the books shameful corrupt unspeakable activities? I would say it is far to early to say on how big a liar she would be. Trump blatantly lied that he would end the visa program in 2016 but reversed himself the other day. Of course everyone knew he was a pathological liar already.

    • Here is a suggestion: Most of the Israeli billionaires became rich from rackets, gambling, prostitution and drugs. Here is a suggestion to fight them: Abolish all the laws against counterfeiting money. Provide every American family with a good copying machine. Also abolish all laws prohibiting bribing Congress so everyone is on a level playing field like the Israeli billionaires. Then, legalize gambling, prostitution and drugs everywhere and let the parties roll. Now every citizen is empowered to bribe Congress and is on a level playing field with the racketeers in Israel. Isn’t this the only practical way to defeat the gangsters and criminals in Israel?

  5. tulsi could be “our” last hope. i haven’t voted since 1976, my first and only time, with gerald ford who admirably did try to stand up to israel, much to his credit, but i’m going all out with tulsi.

  6. “AIPAC’s influence has only grown since those days, as evidenced by the level of support it enjoys on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. ”
    by the level of support?
    i think it would’ve been infinitely more appropriate if you said
    “level of subservience”

  7. ” killing or wounding killing or wounding over 200 American sailors and Marines, and get away with it..”
    killing OR wounding?
    killing AND wounding over 200 American sailors and Marines, and get away with it.

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