When news broke that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard had personally and secretly visited Syria, outcry erupted in Washington D.C. almost immediately. The political establishment greeted the news with outrage, with many taking issue with her meeting with Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. The main problem at hand was the claim that her meeting legitimized the embattled leader.
But is this trip to Syria as bad as her critics make it sound?
War propaganda is an age-old technique to gain favor for conflict and it’s been used many times even in our own country. If a government seeks justification for entering a conflict or war, it finds a monster. While some targets may be deplorable leaders and certainly tyrannical, others are just unfortunate victims of foreign politics gone wrong.
When these actions against a foreign government occur, the will of the people is often not even taken into account. While the people of that nation may be utilized in the propaganda itself, their actual voice is not apart of the discussion.
Should people of a nation have a voice in their own country?
Congresswoman Gabbard addressed this question with her own actions, by visiting the nation. She met with locals, visited facilities, and viewed everything first hand. This is something many have not done.
Consider the power of propaganda. Congresswoman Gabbard formed an opinion on what the people of Syria believe after visiting first hand and surveying the situation personally. She spoke with many common Syrians and allowed these people to speak of their experiences directly. But many who criticize the Congresswoman’s efforts to understand the complicated politics have not visited the country or even the region, which then creates a reliance on other sources.
Politicians in government have their own agendas and have failed the American people before. The United States invaded Iraq on raw emotion and bad intelligence. As the elite spoke of the evils of Saddam Hussein, people opened up to the idea of overthrowing him. Then the talk of weapons of mass destruction created an urgency.
Our quick intervention into another country’s affairs opened the door for greater ISIS growth. There was a failure to properly and thoroughly assess the situation. Instead, war propaganda was pushed not only by the government but the mainstream media as well.
For this reason, Congresswoman Gabbard made the right decision.
When we go to war, we put United States interests on the line. While many look at the situation through an emotional lens, it’s necessary for us to be objective. The war images of the dying and injured are heartbreaking, but can we do anything to improve the situation? Iraq suggests that while we can remove the current dictator, it doesn’t necessarily purge the evil.
But through Iraq, we spent $2 trillion while losing more than a few thousand members of the military and injuring tens of thousands more. That’s $2 trillion that could have either been left in the taxpayers pocket for their own lives or spent on American interests. Those casualties represent thousands of families without a child coming home or families without a loved one. These are actual lives being lost.
War images are tragic, but we need to look past the propaganda being pushed on us by the media and the government. If war is necessary for America’s interests, then it must be on the table as a last resort. Before this decision, Congress has a responsibility to assess the threat and decide on authorizing war. This is why Congress was given the power to authorize war under the Constitution.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s trip to Syria was the right decision. It moved her past the propaganda and she fulfilled her congressional duty of properly accessing a war threat.