With nearly two dozen declared candidates competing for the 2020 Democratic Presidential primary field and the opportunity to run against Donald Trump in the general election, it’s no surprise that candidates are trying their best to “destroy” their opponents during the debates.
During yesterday’s second night of the second Democratic Debate, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, brought up California Senator Kamala Harris’s record as prosecutor. She said, “I’m concerned about this record of Senator Harris. She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana”.
Gabbard also said “She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor of the state of California,” and added “The bottom line is, Senator Harris, when you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not,”. Gabbard ended with “The people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor, you owe them an apology.”
After the debate in Detroit, while talking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Harris resorted to name calling and belittling Gabbard by saying she was an “apologist” for Assad “who has murdered the people of his country like cockroaches.” She also said that because she is “obviously a top-tiered candidate” that she was prepared to take some hits especially from people who were polling at close to zero percent.
It’s interesting how the majority of the criticism that Gabbard faces is from her own party, whereas Republicans and progressives actually like her. She’s even sided with Republicans on the whole Russian collusion fiasco, some have even accused her of being hired by Russia to take down Kamala. Therefore, it’s no surprise that once #KamalaHarrisDestroyed started trending on Twitter people started accusing Russian bots and MAGA supporters of fueling it.
Let’s get back to why Gabbard is not an “Assad apologist.”
In January 2017, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard visited Syria on a fact-finding mission, and met with President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus, but few know that she met with the opposition as well, among others. She has said that she is willing to meet with any leader, “because the only alternative to having those meetings is war”.
Gabbard’s skepticism of how the media was portraying the Syrian president grew and the more openly she spoke about the need for proof before assigning blame for alleged chemical weapons attacks, the harsher the criticism against her became, from the media and her own party.
Gabbard has been accused of being an “Assad apologist” by many but the name calling doesn’t end there. The Washington Post called her “Assad’s Mouthpiece”, The Daily Beast said she was “Bashar Assad’s Favorite Democrat”.
What all of these people are missing is that she has on many occasions called Assad “a brutal dictator” or has folded under pressure like she did earlier this year on The View and the latest example is last night when Anderson Cooper badgered her repeatedly about whether she thinks Assad is a murderer, and yet again she caved.
Her weakness when faced with high pressure situations is a flaw that some of her supporters and critics have noticed and pointed out. It’s not a good look and some will try to defend it and say that it’s just “political talk” to get her elected, but folding and backtracking are signs of weakness and could cost her.
It also seems apparent that many are confusing her non-interventionist, anti-war views with being a supporter of “brutal dictators” and “regimes”. Her opposition in 2013 to Obama’s proposed military strikes in Syria resulted in her introducing legislation to block CIA activities in Syria and military actions against Assad. In 2016 she was only one of three members of Congress that voted against House resolution 121, “Syria war bill” which condemned the Syrian government and other parties for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
She has opposed overthrowing the Syrian government under the false pretense of “humanitarianism”. That same year she even met with President Trump to try to convince him of her views. The following year she stated that the US’s “regime change” involvement in Syria caused the Syrian refugee crisis. That same year she visited Syria, met with President Assad and spoke with Syrian civilians. In 2017 she also supported the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. However, she also supports separatist Kurdish militia’s in Syria.
Gabbard has questioned whether or not Assad ordered chemical weapon attacks against Syrian civilians, she called for an investigation by the U.N. In 2018 she spoke during interviews about the US and their allies providing support to terrorist organizations like AlQaeda. Then, in 2019 while on The View she said there was no disputing the fact that (Assad) is a brutal dictator that has used chemical weapons against his people. Without any evidence, and while playing the role of judge and jury, she caved and said what the hosts wanted to hear.
Even after kowtowing mainstream media’s narrative about Assad being a “brutal dictator” and “murderer” who “uses chemical weapons on his own people”, Democrats insist Gabbard is sympathetic to Syria’s Assad.
Gabbard never was, nor is she now an Assad “apologist”. President Assad has the support of the majority of his people and has been fighting foreign and domestic terrorism in Syria for over eight years, he surely doesn’t need anyone to apologize for him.
Whoever wins the next US election should let Syrians determine their own fate and stay out of their internal political affairs. Ending “regime change” wars and bringing back US troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the rest of the world should be a top priority on their agenda.
Sarah Abed, independent journalist and analyst