Rep. Tulsi Gabbard made a comment during Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate that left many scratching their heads
‘We were supposed to be going after al-Qaeda, but over years now, not only have we not gone after al-Qaeda,’ she said, adding, ‘our president is supporting al-Qaeda.’
Tulsi Gabbard: "This current President is continuing to betray us. We were supposed to be going after al Qaeda, but over years now, not only have we not gone after al Qaeda … our President is supporting al Qaeda" #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/RM5q7yb5aE
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 1, 2019
Donald Trump is supporting al-Qaeda? Gabbard doubled down on her statement during a post-debate appearance on Fox News, saying that the Trump administration’s ‘support and alliance with Saudi Arabia that is both providing direct and indirect support directly to al-Qaeda.’
‘How can you say Saudi Arabia is a great partner in fighting terrorism when they are fueling and funding terrorist groups in Yemen?’ Gabbard added.
The congresswoman is correct. A CNN investigation found that American arms sold to the Saudis have ended up in the hands of terrorists, including al-Qaeda. You would think this would at least make the US question its alliance with the Kingdom.
Which is exactly what Tulsi’s fellow 2020 Democratic hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren did when she challenged the Trump administration on this front. So did conservative Republican Sen. Mike Lee and many other Republicans.
In mid-July, the Democratic-majority House voted to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The ayes included four Republicans, primarily in response to that government’s slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Still, Saudi support to terrorists using US dollars and weapons was also part of that opposition.
So, yes, Tulsi is correct. Donald Trump, however indirectly, ‘is supporting al-Qaeda.’
Just like Barack Obama did.
One of the primary criticisms of the Obama administration’s decision to arm Syrian rebel groups to undermine dictator Bashar al-Assad in that country’s civil war, is that some of those rebels were in fact terrorists, including al-Qaeda.
When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to support Obama in this effort in 2013, Sen. Rand Paul staunchly opposed it and warned his hawkish colleagues. ‘This is an important moment,’ Paul declared, ‘You will be funding, today, the allies of al-Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.’
Like Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy, Obama inadvertently supported terrorists in the name of aiding allies. There’s no getting around that fact.
Now, would Obama acknowledge he was supporting al-Qaeda? No. Would Trump? Hell no. Would the hawks who man the Washington foreign policy establishment ever admit their policies in Saudi Arabia and Syria were indirectly aiding terrorists? Never. Don’t expect them to even consider the possibility, before or after committing that act of insanity. Being part of the establishment means never having to say you’re wrong or sorry.
In fact, when Sen. Paul tried to warn his fellow senators six years ago that sending arms to Syrian rebels would end up helping terrorists, Sen. Marco Rubio scoffed, saying, ‘I don’t think any member of this committee would vote for anything we thought was going to arm al-Qaeda.’
But he did. They all did.
The US government, under the previous and present administrations, has pursued policies that have indirectly supported al-Qaeda. It has been a bipartisan policy, in whatever form it takes, under whichever president, that is as crazy as it sounds
Thanks to Tulsi Gabbard for reminding us.
Jack Hunter is a contributor to The American Conservative and the Washington Examiner and a former adviser to Sen. Rand Paul.