In August and November I wrote about the strangeness of United States House of Representatives member and then 2020 Democratic presidential nomination candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) regularly playing up her 16-plus years and counting employment in the United States military, and other Americans’ service in the US military as well, as a virtue while she at the same time makes opposing major actions of that military, including the carrying out of certain wars, a focus of her congressional work and campaign.
Jimmy Dore, who has similar concerns about Gabbard’s rhetoric promoting the virtue of service in the US military, asked Gabbard about this in an interview with Gabbard at his The Jimmy Dore Show in March. In the interview focused largely on Gabbard’s announcing, upon her dropping out of the Democratic presidential nomination race, that she is supporting Joe Biden for president, Dore asked several tough questions in an effort to induce Gabbard to address the matter directly. Here is the initial exchange between Dore and Gabbard on the topic, with Dore twice attempting to elicit a clear explanation from Gabbard:
DORE: So, I just wanted to talk with you a little bit more about antiwar veterans. So, a lot of veterans and antiwar veterans watch this show, and I meet them when we do events and everything. And they wanted me to ask you this. They say a lot of antiwar veterans say they are not proud to have served, that they are sorry to have taken part, and they offer apology to the countries that they occupied and the people that are living there, and that participating in these wars is only a service to weapons manufacturers and war profiteers. So, what do you say to that?
GABBARD: I respect every veteran — those who make those statements and those who express their pride in serving our country. I am personally I am proud to wear this country’s uniform. I am grateful for the privilege of being able to serve. And it is those experiences that I have had throughout my service that have motivated me to dedicate all of my energy towards bringing about the political change in our leadership that actually honors the great sacrifice, selflessness, and courage that our men and women in uniform and that our veterans lay on the line. I think that it’s important to draw that line of distinction between those who serve and wear the uniform and who salute the flag versus the politicians who are dishonoring that service through the policies that they are advocating for.
DORE: So, I mean it seems to me that soldiers are not fighting for the safety and security of this country when they go over to places like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan. They’re actually achieving the opposite. even in fighting the War on Terror, where it’s observed that for every civilian killed we create two more jihadis. And so, I mean, it just seems, given your piercing criticisms of these corporate interventions, can you square that circle for me — how you can be proud to serve in things that you call out for being wrong?
GABBARD: I’m proud to serve our country. I am angered by the politicians who needlessly send our troops into harms way to fight in wars that don’t make us any safer. There are missions that our troops are sent on to go and defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda that are focused on making the American people safe, and those are missions that should continue to defeat that threat that is posed to our national security and foreign policy. But, you’re right, there are a lot of missions in whether it’s continued deployments in Afghanistan without any clear objective or any clear goal that actually serves our country’s security interests or, you know, regime change wars like we’ve in Iraq and Syria and Libya and other countries that actually undermine our national security interests. So, there is a difference and a distinction, especially when you know, when you understand that it’s the politicians who are making these decisions and it’s why I’m focusing my efforts on bringing about that change there to truly honor them and their service.
Later in the interview, Dore returned to the topic, again seeking to obtain from Gabbard a coherent explanation while presenting his concern that Gabbard’s promotion of the virtue of being in the US military can encourage other people to choose employment in the US government’s war machine:
DORE: So, I just have one more question. So, a couple months ago there’s these kids who live across the street from me. I don’t know how, they’re like 16 through 19, and they’re out washing their car, and then three recruiters jumped out of their car and started recruiting them to go fight in these bogus wars. And, so, Stef and I went out, and we started talking to the kids, and we said: “You don’t have to listen to these guys; tell these guys to get lost.” And, so, it made me think, you know, everything that you touch you make it a little more attractive, so, are you worried that people are joining these bogus wars because you made joining a little more attractive?
GABBARD: No. I’m not. There’s great honor in serving our country, and, whether you’re a kid who’s graduating high school or you’re someone of any age and you make that decision to go and serve our country, no matter the political circumstances, that is a very rare and special thing. I also respect those who say, ‘No, I won’t join the military because I don’t want to be in that position to have to go and fight in a war that a politician sends me to go and fight.” And I respect people’s decisions on both ends of the spectrum. But, there is no honor lost in those who make that decision, raising their right hand to say “I’m willing to lay my life down for my country and the safety and well-being of the American people.” And that’s a decision that’s motivated by love.
Watch these exchanges between Dore and Gabbard, and the complete interview, here:
Good for Dore for trying three times in the interview to elicit from Gabbard a clear, logical answer about this important apparent contradiction at the heart of one of her major areas of focus in politics. All he received back was more of the same nonsense rhetoric Gabbard has been putting out for so long, the same rhetoric the logic of which Dore was challenging.
Luckily for Gabbard, few other people will broach the subject Dore broached. The social convention that everyone should thank people in the military for their service and shut up about any criticisms they may have about such service is so strong that few interviewers have the guts to question Gabbard about this elephant in the room.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.