On Friday, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard launched a barrage of criticism against Hillary Clinton after the former first lady claimed Gabbard was “the favourite of the Russians” among the candidates for the 2020 race. The critical comments made by Clinton are in reference to Gabbard’s strong stance against the U.S.’s military involvement in a number of Middle Eastern conflicts as well as so-called “regime-change wars”—a stance Clinton claims only benefits the enemies of the United States. On twitter, Gabbard fired back claiming that Clinton, among others, was attempting to sabotage her presidential campaign and reputation as a result of her open criticism of U.S. foreign policy.
Without explicitly mentioning her by name, Clinton aimed criticism at Gabbard during an interview on the Campaign HQ podcast. “I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary, and they’re grooming her to be the third-party candidate”, Clinton stated. In addition to claiming Gabbard was the “favourite of the Russians”, Clinton added that “they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far”. In turn, Gabbard blasted Clinton on Twitter as “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long”. She further accused Clinton, through her “proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine” of engaging in a concerted effort to prevent Gabbard from achieving the 2020 democratic presidential nomination.
In offering her assertion, Clinton provided no evidence; nor have allegations that Russia is aiding Gabbard’s campaign ever been proven. Despite this, some Democrats are sceptical of Gabbard’s foreign policy, which often aligns more so with conservatives than with members of her own party. Such stances have thus made her popular among right-wingers and garnered frequent mention of her in Russian media. Yet, cases such as these merely work to demonstrate the extent to which political partisanship interferes with efforts towards achieving peace. In reality, Gabbard’s anti-interventionist stances have demonstrated themselves to be extremely popular among the U.S. population—both Presidents Obama and Trump placed heavy emphasis during their campaigns on winding down America’s military involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. Despite this, neither president made good on such promises, in fact, the contrary is the case. Moreover, one now sees the irony in the fact that the Democratic Party, which once stood as the anti-war party under Obama (and in opposition to the Republican Bush presidency), now appears to have reversed its anti-war stances in opposition to Trump. Thus, Gabbard is not necessarily incorrect when she states that the Democratic Party has “become a warmongering party”. What this most recent spat highlights is the extent to which political parties retain fluid policy positions for their own convenience, while ultimately, in most cases, failing to execute such policies anyway.
Serving in the U.S. military herself as a combat medic in Iraq, Gabbard later joined the Democratic Party and rose through the party ranks, even being endorsed by former President Barack Obama. However, her popularity with the Democratic establishment soured over time, with many viewing her as disloyal to the party as a result of her frequent and outspoken criticism of its leaders’ stances on foreign policy. This most recent feud therefore comes as unsurprising, as Hillary Clinton during her long political career has remained a strong supporter of foreign military intervention. Namely, she was an advocate of the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War, as well as the infamous toppling of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2014, which subsequently plunged the country into a civil war from which it has yet to recover. Gabbard remains adamantly opposed to U.S. military involvement in such conflicts.
Opposition to U.S. military involvement in foreign conflicts has been a cornerstone of the campaigns of the last two U.S. elected presidents—despite their opposing party affiliations. Yet, in the current climate of political partisanship and special interest groups, it appears unlikely that political leaders will broach the divide and execute the policies for which their constituents have expressed approval. Consequently, it is likely that we will witness a continuation of U.S. wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, and thus a continuation of the humanitarian crises therein. The U.S. currently conducts counter-terrorism operations in 76 countries. During the course of its $6 trillion ‘war on terror’, approximately 500,000 people have been killed in U.S. conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
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