Foreign Policy Is Not Tulsi’s Strength
Why am I getting nervous and uneasy about Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the rookie Democrat representative from Hawaii?
It’s not just her “Hey, look at me” personality, or missing that Senate committee hearing on veterans here, or posing on a surfboard for a Yahoo video, or her casual toss-outs about making Goa, India, and Hawaii “sister states.”
No, it’s the way she’s making foreign policy pronouncements while having no background in foreign policy except for her National Guard time as a brief, mainly-on-base military policewoman in Iraq.
It began with Gabbard criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry for saying that the criminal conduct of terrorists with the Islamic State and al Qaeda is “rooted in alienation, poverty, thrill-seeking and other factors.”
Very few world leaders disagree with that.
But Gabbard posits she knows better.
“If that’s really the cause, then the solution would be just to give them a trophy, give them a hug, give them a good-paying job, $10,000, and a skateboard so they can go and get their thrills and say, ‘OK, great, they are going to be happy and they won’t be fighting anymore,'” she said.
Then she went on Fox News to take on President Obama, saying he refuses to use the words “Islamic extremism” when he talks about terror attacks.
“This is not just about words,” Gabbard said. “It’s not about semantics. It’s really about having a real, true understanding of who our enemy is and how important that is, that we have to understand what their motivation is and what their ideology is — the radical Islamic ideology that is fueling them.”
And then adding that part of her views of how to handle radical Islamism come from her military service and her up-close-and-personal look at the combat situations in Iraq — again, I point out, as a mainly-on-base military policewoman.
I don’t denigrate her National Guard service time or that it did place her in some danger. But I take serious issue when somebody who’s done a little non-fighting time in Iraq, and is not a Middle East or Islamic scholar, claims to know better than our President and Secretary of State how to fathom the motivations of terrorists, or how to refer to them beyond the term that best describes them — terrorists.
The wahhabist mullahs of Saudi Arabia are Islamic extremists by most any outsider’s definition, but not terrorists. Leaders must be careful and precise with language.
By contrast with Gabbard, new representative Mark Takai has taken his seat with quiet dignity and gone to work on the difficult matter of finding an appropriate size for our military post-Iraq and Afghanistan, and within the budget constraints. He hasn’t told President Obama or Secretary Kerry how to handle their jobs or what to say to the American public.
I sometimes feel we’d have been better served in the 2nd District by Mufi Hannemann. Or even Charles Djou, had he considered running in that district. Maybe he will in 2016?