“I think it is important for us to send a signal that we are not hellbent on regime change,” presidential candidate Barack Obama said in 2007. He was talking about Iran but citing former President George W. Bush’s disastrous precedent of ousting Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Obama defined his candidacy in opposition to that 2003 regime change war and eventually became president.
Times have changed. Most Democrats in Tuesday night’s CNN/New York Times presidential debate blasted President Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria and said they believe his decision endangers the Kurds. But only one candidate said the United States should also stop pursuing an overall “regime change war” in that country.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “We’ve got to understand the reality of the situation there, which is that the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war that we’ve been waging in Syria.”
“Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hands,” the Hawaii Democrat continued, “but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syria that started in 2011, along with many in the mainstream media, who have been championing and cheerleading this regime change war.”
Gabbard cited U.S. sanctions on Syria, American military intervention, and our aid to rebel groups that have included al Qaeda, all in the name of undermining Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s regime.
Gabbard noted that this “started in 2011,” offering a reminder that this “regime change war” began and was overseen mostly by Obama. Her fellow Democrats weren’t having it.
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South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg shot back, “Respectfully congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it’s a consequence of a withdrawal and betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.”
“I didn’t think we should have gone to Iraq in the first place,” Buttigieg continued. “I think we need to get out of Afghanistan. But it is also the case that a small number of special operations forces and intelligence capabilities were the only thing that stood between that part of Syria and what we’re seeing now, which is the beginning of a genocide and resurgence of ISIS.”
Gabbard asked Buttigieg if he wanted to have “U.S. troops in Syria for an indefinite period of time.”
“You can put an end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump’s policies,” Buttigieg replied.
And there you have it.
Regime change wars are just fine with most 2020 Democrats, so long as it allows them to oppose Trump. The president’s recent policy in Syria is not unlike the anti-regime change stance Obama promoted as a candidate in 2008. The Obama-Biden ticket won the White House by opposing Bush’s regime change war in Iraq and promising not to repeat that mistake (although they eventually did).
They’ve completely flip-flopped. Biden himself said Tuesday that if the U.S. military didn’t remain engaged in Syria, “ISIS is going to come here.” This was pure Dick Cheney.
To their credit, most of the Democrat candidates Tuesday said they wanted the U.S. out of the Middle East. But the only one who took the same stance as the throngs of liberals who marched in the streets in 2003 to protest the Iraq War was Gabbard.
After the debate, it’s clear why the Democratic establishment hates Tulsi Gabbard so much: She is more concerned with being anti-war than anti-Trump. Most Democrats today are not.
Jack Hunter (@jackhunter74) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner‘s Beltway Confidential blog. He is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Sen. Rand Paul.
This article was originally published by “WE“-