Major Tulsi Gabbard of the Hawaii Army National Guard at the ceremony at which she was promoted from the rank of captain. She is the serving representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district
Tulsi Gabbard, one of the candidates competing to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, has been particularly prominent in the American and global news media over the past few days. Her views in relation to America’s enduring policy of effecting “regime change” in foreign nations has provoked a storm of controversy in her country, bringing forth bitter criticism. Gabbard has even been denounced as a “Russian asset” for arguing against American interventionism. The furore is quite revealing on several levels. For one, it yet again exposes a shocking embrace for interventionist wars by members of the liberal elite. It also reveals a disturbing tactic utilised by politicians and the mainstream press to label those who do not toe the establishment line on military policy as traitorous. Above all, it also exposes a fundamental defect in the American political discourse; that is the lack of a genuine national dialogue on the underlying reasons for the drift towards American militarism after the end of the Cold War, and the entrenchment of this militarism after the attacks of September 11th 2001.
To get to the heart of the matter as I see it, Tulsi Gabbard is one of the few high profile American politicians to have addressed the publically undebated phenomenon of America’s endless wars. The United States has never had a public debate related to what retired General Wesley Clark referred to as “a policy coup” in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11th at which point according to Clark, a group of “hard-nosed people took control of policy in the United States.”
Since then, America, under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), has attacked Iraq under false pretences, engineered the destabilisation of Libya and sought to do the same to Syria. The modus operandi utilised against both Libyan and Syrian governments; like Saddam-era Iraq secular in nature, was through Islamist proxies, that is, militias professing the ideology of those claimed to have been responsible for the 9/11 atrocities.
The amorality of these tactics and techniques are never seriously questioned in the media and by legislative institutions even though they have been conducted in plain view such as the visits to eastern Libya and Syria by the late Senator John McCain or where admissions have been made by high-profile politicians such as former Vice President Joseph Biden and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who revealed the help given by America’s regional allies to Jihadist groups.
In identifying the pattern of “regime change wars” in which she has served in the US Army, Gabbard has presented an opportunity for America to come to grips with the underlying reasons for the germination of this militarism which has been fueled to a large extent by the military industry and lobbies associated with the State of Israel.
But this cannot be achieved where the modus operandi of her political opponents and journalists working for the mainstream press constrict the parameters of debate by not only propagating false narratives of how America’s recent wars have been initiated, but also by smearing those who advocate a fresh approach to American policy. Just as Donald Trump’s announced intention to seek a rapprochement with Russia was met by the weaving of the false narrative of “Russia-gate” which included allegations of collusion with the Russian state to undermine the democratic process, Gabbard has been referred to as a “Russian asset”.
That the use of a smear involving Russia can still have any currency after the thorough debunking of “Russia-gate”, which any objective researcher would have known from the outset had little merit, demonstrates how once again political tribalism and geopolitical illiteracy, both facilitated by mainstream media propaganda, have triumphed over reason.
To her credit, Gabbard has hit back at what she described as “a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation.” And in issuing a stern rebuke to Hilary Clinton who had made a veiled reference to Gabbard as a candidate being groomed by the Russians to run as a third party candidate, she identified what she described as Clinton’s “proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine” as been at the root of these smears.
The significant word used by Gabbard is “corporate”. For it addresses the question of the control exerted on US politicians by corporate entities linked to Wall Street and the military industry who fund them. These interests also clearly have the ability to influence the corporatised American media which today is dominated by five corporations.
So compromised is the mainstream media and the politicians that the American public have never been given a comprehensively articulated picture of the origins of America’s post-Cold War militarism in terms of conception and chronology. This would necessitate a reference to the application of the “Wolfowitz Doctrine”, by which is meant the policy objective after the fall of the Soviet Union of aggressively deploying America’s military resources to reshape the world during the ensuing power vacuum before the emergence of a global competitor.
It would also involve a careful scrutiny of the tentacles of the military industry, as well as a precise and frank inquiry into the workings of the “Deep State”. It is clearly the case that the policy of war has been an essentially unchanging one from one administration to the next. Thus, Michael J. Glennon, a professor of international law at Tufts University, has posited a scenario in which actors belonging to what he terms “Trumanite” institutions have usurped power from the trioka of “Madisonian” institutions of state, the latter which he argues are no longer accountable in the manner people think they are.
The time is long overdue for a national dialogue in which politicians, journalists and academics address this fundamental shortcoming of American foreign policy: that the purpose of the military is to deter conflict and not to start wars by invading countries and instituting regime change by covert means. Failure to do this only serves to perpetuate the costs to America, both in terms of adding to its spiralling sovereign debt and the undermining of its moral prestige and authority among the global community of nations.
© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)
Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.