There is a Democratic candidate for President whose anti-war foreign policy positions would make Australia and the world safer, writes Daniel Safi.
The DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES in the U.S. are heating up. With twenty or so Democrats vying to take Donald Trump on in 2020, one candidate is building much of her platform on foreign policy reform. Tulsi Gabbard, a Congresswoman and Iraq War veteran from Hawaii, is facing an uphill battle in the Democrat primaries by taking a stand against endless war.
Political attitudes in the U.S. are shifting. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 platform – free college tuition, tax hikes on America’s super-rich, a public healthcare system – was considered unelectable. Today, establishment Democrats like Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are appearing to embrace similarly progressive agendas, even if it is opportunism in these recent converts.
But nowhere is this shift in political attitudes more important than on the matter of war. A healthy scepticism towards the foreign policy status-quo is becoming more mainstream, building on Trump’s popular 2016 message (which he has not carried through), that the U.S. should pull back from foreign military adventure. (Of course, Trump also promised to increase military spending).
Tulsi Gabbard’s platform on foreign policy is as follows:
[Ending] America's interventionist wars of regime change that have cost our nation trillions of dollars and thousands of lives, simultaneously creating more devastation, human suffering and refugees in the countries where U.S. regime change war is waged … [and] spending the trillions of dollars wasted in interventionist wars on more pressing domestic issues in America, like infrastructure, college debt, healthcare [and so on].
This vision is resonating.
Research conducted in 2018 showed that:
“71 per cent of Americans believed Congress should pass legislation that restrained military action. The survey shows that 86.4 per cent believe the military should be used only as a last resort. Additionally, 63.9 per cent of those polled felt that military aid, both money and weapons, should not be provided to regimes like Saudi Arabia — the West’s top ally in the Arab world.”
More poignant and in some ways more reliable than percentages and graphs filtered by third parties is the comments section in Tulsi Gabbard’s YouTube videos, where posts like these from across the political spectrum are typical:
I’m a conservative, Republican, combat vet. I would follow her into combat. I would vote for her because she’s a pragmatist, puts America first, is skeptical of US foreign policy, and stands up for the little guy. There is some remarkable overlap between the anti establishment populist left and anti establishment populist right.
This post is, similarly, interesting:
Don't forget to change party to Democrat to vote her in the primaries if you're Green, libertarian, independent, or conservative, even if its temporary. Let's put our egos aside and work together as citizens! Tell your friends to do the same to overthrow corporate establishment Kamala. Dont let the establishment get their way
Sadly, despite seeming widespread democratic support for the vision and ideas that Tulsi Gabbard is taking to the American people, mainstream media is not on board.
“When corporate outlets talk about this anti-interventionist position, they primarily use it to negatively characterize the candidates who espouse it. Few in establishment media seem interested in going any deeper or considering the veracity of arguments raised by anti-interventionists … When Gabbard appears on talk-shows, she is typically on the receiving end of baseless questions coated in assumptions of military altruism.”
Journalist Michael Tracey goes further saying, “the [media’s] campaign to otherize and delegitimize Tulsi Gabbard is itself really disturbing.”
But Tulsi’s message and candidacy is not just important for the U.S. and potential victims of the U.S. war machine, but also close allies of the U.S., like Australia, that typically follow the U.S. on its foreign adventures, even when that means potentially supporting suspect organisations.
In other words, a Gabbard Presidency will mean a cleaner foreign policy conscience for Australia too, and in the long-term, greater security for Australians abroad and at home.
Based on Tulsi’s foreign policy positions and statements on China, for example, disputes that concern Australia and the world like the South China Sea could be de-escalated with real diplomacy. This would prove a much-needed break from the grossly irresponsible and counter-productive “gunboat diplomacy” Australia currently partakes in.
And in Yemen, where the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis unfolds, would Australia have maintained its silence if it were not for America’s involvement, which Tulsi Gabbard has pledged to end would end?
While a Labor or Liberal government in Canberra may make decisions on the finer details of foreign policy, with minor differences perhaps in emphasis between the two, it is the administration in Washington that truly sets our broader foreign policy outlook and agenda.
A Tulsi Gabbard Presidency, assuming she is able to enact her vision, would make Australia and our region safer and more secure.
Daniel Safi has an honours degree in history and politics and now works as a music teacher.
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