Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. (AFGE / CC-BY-2.0)

Journalists are weighing the positives and negatives of news that President-elect Donald Trump is considering Bernie Sanders-endorser and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for a position in his Cabinet. The Iraq War veteran and major in the Hawaii Army National Guard met with Trump on Monday. Reportedly, she could be his secretary of state or secretary of defense, and she was under consideration for ambassador to the U.N., although that position has now gone to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

At Paste Magazine, Eoin Higgins wrote of Gabbard’s “consistent embrace of hard-right politics,” including homophobic legislation and support for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (with whom she shares membership in the Gaudiya Vaishnavism sect of the Hindu faith), whose associated political organizations use “the fears and prejudices of the majority Hindu Indian population against Muslims to ensure its hold on power.”

At The Nation, James Carden struck an optimistic tone, though he didn’t dispense with the concerns raised by Higgins. “In meeting with Gabbard,” he wrote, “Trump is hopefully signaling that he is seeking to move away from the counterproductive, dangerous, and largely self-perpetuating foreign-policy consensus of regime change and military intervention of the past 25 years.”

Carden explained Gabbard’s vote against legislation that would have settled Syrians fleeing their country’s civil war in the U.S. by citing her conviction that the Department of Homeland Security wasn’t prepared to vet refugees, a fact that makes Gabbard’s position on the resettlement of immigrants “qualitatively different from Trump’s,” Carden said.

“Yet questions remain,” Carden wrote. “Among them: Would Gabbard’s sober realism be drowned out in an administration dominated by hardliners like Steve Bannon, the just-named National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and a Secretary of State John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani? How would Trump reconcile the positions of longtime Iran-hawks like possible Defense Secretary James Mattis with Gabbard’s oft-stated opposition to overthrowing Assad, who is a longtime client of Iran?”

At Medium, Gabbard explained that Trump “asked me to meet with him to discuss our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and [Islamic State], as well as other foreign policy challenges we face.

“This was an opportunity to advocate for peace,” she continued. “[A]nd I felt it was important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect to counteract neocons’ steady drumbeats of war, which threaten to drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government. … We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al-Qaeda, [Islamic State], and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people.

“In addition, where I disagree with President-elect Trump on issues, I will not hesitate to express that disagreement.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly


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