Tulsi Gabbard: Assad isn't an enemy of the United States, not sure he's an adversary either

Before this is over, she’ll have more fans on the alt-right than she does on the far left.

Assuming she doesn’t already.

The clip begins with a defensible point: “Enemy” is a strong word with military implications so let’s reserve it for regimes that threaten us militarily. Whether Gabbard would apply that standard consistently is another matter. I’m guessing she’d also question whether Iran could ever truly be an enemy to a superpower like the United States, never mind its history of terrorism or its nuclear ambitions. If you’re an ardent skeptic of intervention abroad then defining “enemies” in terms of capabilities is an easy way to rule out military action against basically anyone.

But fine — Assad is no threat to us, never mind the Americans in the region that he’s kidnapped or helped kill. Ergo, he’s not an “enemy.” So the “Morning Joe” panel changes course. How about an “adversary”? We can take a generally hostile view of an Iran-Russia ally who’s spent the last eight years waging total war internally, replete with chemical weapons attacks, can we not? Scarborough et al. are trying to help Gabbard by asking that question, knowing that voters (and not just Republican voters) are suspicious of her freelance diplomacy with Assad two years ago. A principled isolationist would have leaped at the opportunity here: “Oh, Assad’s a monster. How could anyone doubt it? He’s an adversary to any country that believes in human rights. All I’m saying is that we have to prioritize the lives of Americans in choosing when to intervene. We can’t risk our troops in another aimless war where our security interests aren’t directly threatened.”

But no, she won’t take the easy lay-up even by conceding his “adversary” status. By the end of the segment it’s more like an alley-oop, with Scarborough and company repeatedly nudging her to say something, anything, critical of Assad to prove she’s not a stooge. No dice. At least she seems to concede that he used chemical weapons, unlike the strongest-form Syria skeptics who maintain that those were false-flag operations.

She’s a weird character — although an interesting one politically, given her blend of hard-left progressivism on domestic issues and a foreign policy that seems more in sync at the moment with paleocons than with progressives. A Gabbard third-party run would be fascinating. Possibly even fatal to the Democratic nominee’s chances.

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