On Monday, it was reported that Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was numbered among the day’s visitors to Trump Tower to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. Up until then, with the notable exception of former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, there had been almost no surprise faces among those job seekers and potential advisers who have met with Trump following his surprise victory on November 8. ABC News reported that a member of the Trump transition said the two had “an excellent meeting.”
That Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, is now said to be under consideration for a number of high-level posts, including secretary of state, secretary of defense, and ambassador to the UN, is a small, yet positive sign that Trump may not (yet) be held captive to the regnant foreign-policy orthodoxy to which almost the entirety of the Washington establishment remains in thrall.
After the meeting, Gabbard, who will be contributing to The Nation’s forthcoming progressive foreign-policy forum in December, said in a statement that she “felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the president-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government.”
The meeting between Gabbard and Trump makes sense given that the two share some common ground on a number of foreign-policy issues, particularly as it concerns the foreign-policy establishment’s unquestioning fidelity to the twin policies of military intervention and regime change.
Throughout the campaign, Trump repeatedly stated his opposition to the Obama administration’s policy of fighting ISIS while also training and funding rebel groups which seek to overthrow the Syrian government. Shortly after the election, Trump attempted to explain his position on Syria to The Wall Street Journal by saying: “My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS.”
In November 2015, Gabbard (along with Georgia Republican Scott Austin) introduced legislation that would defund the administration’s “train and equip” program to overthrow the Assad government. At the time, Gabbard explained that overthrowing Assad “is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria.”