Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is half right about foreign policy. Unfortunately, the 50% the Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii gets wrong makes her views dangerous.
Gabbard’s beliefs that regime change, pointless conflicts with other countries, and the use of America’s military as the global police force are stupid and destructive are correct. However, history shows Gabbard’s claim that America can create peace by leaving the rest of the world alone is a dangerous delusion.
American leaders tried to “leave the rest of the world alone” twice in the 20th Century and made things far worse each time. First, the America First isolationism of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s did not keep the United States out of World War II.
Sorry Tulsi, History shows Isolationism does not work
Indeed, US refusal to enter World War II in 1939 or 1940 probably led to a greater American involvement. To explain, by staying out of the war until 1941; America allowed the Germans to conquer one powerful ally France, and gravely weaken another ally the British Empire.
Had the US entered the war earlier; or provided massive military support to France and Britain from the beginning, there could have been no need for a massive US war effort against Nazi Germany. Instead, the British, Canadians French, and Soviets could have done the fighting saving American lives.
Second, President Bill Clinton (D-Arkansas) adapted “the ignore the world’s problems” game plan after the Cold War’s end. Notably, Clinton refused to become directly involved in Afghanistan.
For instance, Clinton refused to send commandos to Afghanistan to get Osama Bin Laden; even though that madman was openly planning to attack the United States. I even remember Ted Koppel discussing whether America should kill Bin Laden on his Nightline TV show years before September 11.
That enabled Al Qaeda to establish a base in that country and attack the United States on September 11, 2001. September 11 led to the current disastrous United States interventionist foreign policy, by placing imperialists (euphemistically labeled neoconservatives) in charge of America’s foreign policy.
Thus, Clinton could have spared America September 11 and a decade of war by authorizing one small military operation. Moreover, Clinton could have denied Bin Laden a base of operations by spending a few foreign aid dollars to rebuild Afghanistan or at least shore up its government.
Why Gabbard’s Foreign Policy will not Work
Gabbard’s foreign policy will fail because she offers no strategy beyond “leave the world alone.” Unless, Gabbard can move America to another planet that will not work.
However, there is a strategy that can assure peace and security without American imperialism. The strategy is to build strong international institutions for peacekeeping and international security.
In fact, America had such a strategy after World War II and it worked. For instance, NATO kept the peace in Europe for 46 years; and held the Soviet Union at bay, without costing a single life. In addition, the United Nations; largely the creation of President Harry S. Truman (D-Missouri), has a history of successful peacekeeping operations.
Is the UN the Solution?
Notably, UN peacekeepers are leaving both countries while America is still bogged down in Afghanistan, 18 years after September 11. In contrast, American nation building in Afghanistan, and Iraq and intervention in Syria and Libya has led to more war and bloodshed.
Interventionists; like National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, know international institutions work. That is why interventionists openly disparage and covertly sabotage institutions like the UN. They want to eliminate any effective alternative to their wars and force leaders like President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) to adopt their imperialist strategies and cartoonish world view.
Thus, Gabbard’s foreign policy will not work without a firm American commitment to building and maintaining strong international institutions. Without a good alternative to “America polices the world,” all Gabbard will do is make warmongering imperialists like John Bolton more influential.
If Gabbard wants peace she needs to offer more than just “leave the world alone.” History shows it will not work.
Why does the Media Love Tulsi Gabbard?
Strangely, U.S. Representative Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is attracting a lot of media attention but few votes.
Notably, the July 2019 Emerson Poll estimates 2% of likely Democratic primary voters support Gabbard. Therefore, Gabbard has less support than Andrew Yang (D-New York) who was poling at 3%.
However, The New York Times just profiled Gabbard in a big article and some lesser media outlets like The American Conservative are becoming obsessed with her. I guess, the media likes Tulsi because she is the only candidate talking about foreign policy. Neither the Republican standard bearer (Trump), nor any of the popular Democratic candidates mentions foreign affairs on the campaign trail.
Moreover, Gabbard is a very colorful character, she is from Hawaii, she’s beautiful, she’s of Samoan heritage; like the movie star Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson a popular fantasy candidate, a surfer, an Iraq War veteran, and a Major in the National Guard. Plus, Russian news outlets seem to like Tulsi.
What Tulsi Does not Say
However, voters are ignoring Gabbard, probably because she seems to take no stands on anything besides interventionism. For instance, Gabbard offers no economic ideas and never mentions things like trade or healthcare.
The cynic in me says the media loves Tulsi because she refuses to challenge the current economic order; in contrast to US Senator Liz Warren (D-Massachusetts), Andrew Yang (D-New York), and US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). To clarify, foreign policy could distract voters from unpleasant realities like income inequality and technological unemployment.
In conclusion, Gabbard’s stand on foreign policy is refreshing and heroic but doomed to failure. America needs more than “leave the world alone and war is bad,” hopefully another candidate will offer real foreign policy solutions.