During last night’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (LSSC), host Stephen Colbert asked Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) why did she meet with a war criminal like Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
"Do you not consider him a war criminal? Why did you meet with
that man?" Colbert asked Gabbard.
"In the pursuit of peace and security. If we are not willing to adversaries, potential adversaries in pursuit of peace and
security, the only alternative is more war. That’s why I took that
meeting with Assad, in pursuit of peace and security,"
Gabbard,who is an Iraq War veteran, is one of the 14 Democrats running for president.
A problem she faces, on the campaign trail, is how she squares her time as a soldier and a congresswoman with what some believe is Gabbard turning a blind eye to Assad using chemical weapons to gas his own people.
Assad has denied the claims and has said that the chemical attacks were committed by ISIS and groups backed by the United States (U.S.) in Syria.
However, the United Nations (UN) has concluded that it was Assad and ISIS which launched the chemical attacks against the Syrian people.
The UN Security Council has tried sanctioning Assad but came up against a roadblock when Russia and China decided not to vote for the sanctions. Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the Russian military and money to help Bashar al Assad to remain in power.
Due to Assad’s history and close relationship with Putin, who is known to execute journalists and political opponents who threaten his power, Colbert questioned if Gabbard believes
that someone like Assad is really not a war criminal:
"Do you believe that he is a war criminal? Do you believe he gassed his own people or committed atrocities against his own
Reports have shown that that’s a fact. The congresswoman told Colbert that prior administrations’ reasoning for going to war is why she remains skeptical about the intelligence reports that are given to the American people after the reports have gone down the political pipeline. The political pipeline being the president, congress, and intelligence agencies.
Gabbard cited the Iraq War, which she is a veteran of, as evidence of the United States using flawed intelligence in order to launch a war that resulted in over hundred thousand Americans killed and billions of dollars spent.
“The real question here that is important for us, the American people and our government is how destructive these regime change wars are on the people in the countries where we’re supposedly trying to help them; as well as how destructive they are to us; the American people here at home. Both from a security perspective and the fact that we don’t have enough money to pay for health care for everyone, that we don’t have enough money to pay for education, to rebuild our infrastructure, the urgent needs that our people have right here at home,”
Colbert told Gabbard that although it’s true the U.S. can’t police everyone in the world, it is also true that the U.S. is a stabilizing force within the international community.
And without the U.S. as a stabilizing force, the world risks becoming more chaotic with countries like Russia and China, which don’t believe in democracy and basic human rights, filling the void left by the U.S. and our western allies.
Colbert said to Gabbard, “If we are not, though, nature abhors a vacuum and if we are not involve in international conflicts or trying to quell international conflicts, certainly the Russians and the Chinese will fill that vacuum. And we will step away from the world stage in a significant way that might destabilize the world. Because the United States, however flawed, is a force for good in the world.”
Gabbard told Colbert that she doesn’t want people to think she is an isolationist and that all she is advocating for is a reasonable solution that will not further complicate the complex problems nations face.
Gabbard ended the conversation with, “I don’t advocate for isolationism, that’s not at all what I’m talking about. I’m talking about making sure that we have relationships with other countries that’s based on cooperation, not conflict, and that we’re thinking through and exercising foresight on the decisions that we are making and understanding what those consequences are.”