For Tulsi Gabbard, 'wasteful' foreign policy at root of all other issues

In Cedar Rapids, Democratic presidential hopeful says she'll end Afghanistan war

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks Friday at Raygun, 1028 Third St. SE in Ceda
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks Friday at Raygun, 1028 Third St. SE in Cedar Rapids. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Being able to address voters’ priorities of climate change, education, health care and the “whole lineup of other issues that we need to address that really affect us and our families and our kids every day at home” starts with foreign policy, according to Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard.

That requires a president who will stand up to the military-industrial complex to redirect resources from “wasteful, counterproductive regime change wars” and de-escalating a new Cold War that is renewing the nuclear arms race, the Hawaii congresswoman said in a campaign appearance Friday night in Cedar Rapids.

“Every time your local city council member, your state representative, your member of Congress tells you there’s not enough money to make sure we have clean water, there’s not enough money to have quality health care for all ... there’s just not enough money to make sure our kids have the tools they need to get the best education possible,” that’s the cost of current foreign policy, said Gabbard, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

In the 18 years since Sept. 11, 2001, taxpayers have spent $6 trillion for the War on Terror, she said. The bill continues to go up at a rate of $4 billion a month for the war in Afghanistan.

“What did we spend it on? Things that made our country more safe?” she asked. Not really, she answered — much was spent on toppling Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with the terror attacks. Despite the cost in money and lives, she said, al-Qaida and its offshoots are stronger than they were 18 years ago.

“As president, I will end wasteful regime change wars” and bring troops home from Afghanistan immediately, she said to applause from a crowd of about 75 at Raygun.

Anil Maheshwari of Fairfield was one of those clapping. A professor of business management and information technology at Maharishi University, he said one issue — and encouragement from friends in Hawaii familiar with the congresswoman — brought him to Gabbard’s campaign: world peace.


“She’s the only candidate who is talking about world peace, so she’s the only one for me,” Maheshwari said.

Gabbard acknowledged that standing up to the military-industrial complex and changing U.S. foreign policy will not be easy.

“The obstacles seem too great sometimes,” Gabbard said. “How do you overcome the influence of big money in our politics? We can’t forget the power within our own voices. That is the only way we can make this change. We can’t underestimate the power of our own voices.”

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