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Gabbard: The cost of war is too high

POTUS hopeful makes quick stop by the lake
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D- Hawaii) responds to a question about climate change during a campaign stop Oct. 9 in the rural Solon home of Paul Julius. (photos by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– When Paul Julius went to his first caucus, he showed up not knowing who Barack Obama was, and ended up in Obama’s camp.
“That was a really proud moment,” he said. “Yes! It started here in Iowa– that kind of got his name out.
“This sort of had the same feeling,” he said of hosting presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D- Hawaii) Oct. 9 in the backyard of his rural Solon home. “I did something I believe in, and even though it was small, it’s what I could do.”
Julius did his homework on the candidates when a slate of 22 Democrats announced they would seek the opportunity to challenge for the 2020 presidency.
“She really caught my attention,” Julius said. “When I saw she wasn’t going to make the debates, I simply made a $100 donation.”
Months later, Gabbard’s aide called Julius.
Gabbard was making planned appearances in Washington, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, the aide said, asking if Julius would be willing to host an additional quick stop.
“I said sure,” he said. “It was really that simple.”
Julius had about a week’s notice of the event, but he didn’t know Gabbard was going to be followed by a film crew from Showtime’s “The Circus,” a documentary series examining national politics, now in its fourth season. Cast member Mark McKinnon was on location.
“I had no idea,” Julius said. “I wasn’t expecting the press or anything.”
Gabbard’s entourage offered to help in any way needed, and were well-organized, he added.
“I would have liked more people to be there but I wasn’t terribly disappointed,” he said. “I’m glad I did it.”
Julius introduced Gabbard to the crowd of 20 interested residents, and she thanked him for his generous hospitality before launching into brief remarks focused on the cost of war.
It’s not a topic a lot of candidates bring up, and it’s not something voters identify as a top concern, but it impacts every citizen and is connected to all of the other issues faced by the nation, she said.
Gabbard was elected in 2012 to the United States House of Representatives, serving Hawaii’s 2nd District and is currently in her fourth term. She is one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and also its first Hindu member.
She was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002 at 21 years of age, the youngest person ever elected in the state. A year later, motivated in the wake of 9-11, she joined the Army National Guard and currently retains the rank of major.
Gabbard has been deployed twice to the Middle East.
Her first deployment, she said, was to Iraq in 2005 at the height of the war where she served in a field medical unit.
“Every single day we all were confronted with that terribly high human cost of war,” she said. “It’s one too many of our veterans still are dealing with today.”
But beyond the visible and invisible wounds of veterans, “There’s a cost to these ongoing regime-change wars that’s paid for by every single one of us,” Gabbard added.
Costly foreign wars are directly connected to the other issues which keep Americans up at night– education, healthcare, protecting the environment and infrastructure, she said. The country needs reforms to trade, tax, immigration, criminal justice policies as well, she added.
“We look at all the different changes that we need to make, all of the areas within our lives and communities that require an investment of resources, and then we hear politicians say, ‘Well we just don’t have enough money for those things.’”
Since Sept. 11, 2001, American taxpayers have spent over $6 trillion waging regime change wars that have been terribly costly to men and women in uniform and undermined national security, Gabbard told the crowd.
Regime change wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria have strengthened terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Quaida, she asserted.
“In Afghanistan right now, Afghanistan alone, we as taxpayers are spending $4 billion every month,” Gabbard said.
What are we actually trying to accomplish there and are we getting close to the goal? How better could we spend these limited resources on things needed at home like addressing the increasing federal debt, she asked.
The cost of war is central to every other issue we face, Gabbard suggested.
As president, she promised to “end this new cold war” of escalating tensions between and Russia, China and North Korea.
“We’re in a situation where leaders have failed us and pushed us to the brink of nuclear catastrophe, an existential threat to all of us,” she said.
The most important role of the president is as Commander-in-Chief, she noted.
“There’s a sea change necessary in our government, both in our foreign policy, and the over-arching governance we have seen for too long being ruled by the very few, the very rich and the very powerful, who influence the policies that are passed, benefitting the very few but leaving the rest of us behind,” Gabbard told the audience. “My mission is to bring the values and principles of service above self, at the heart of every soldier and service member, back to our government, back to the White House, leading a government that is truly of, by and for the people and restoring these principles of honor and respect and integrity.”
She promised to heal the country’s divisive wounds, and rally the population as Americans, observing the nation is strongest when its people can engage in dialogue.
The obstacles are great, she said, “But there is nothing more powerful than when we, the people, rise up.”
Gabbard pledged to take no money from political action committees or lobbyists, and asked for support in bringing the country together to work for a better future.
After concluding her remarks, she fielded questions from the group ranging from the isolation of Turkish Kurds in northern Syria to her plans to address climate change.
A lot can be done to minimize the impacts of climate change on the environment, she said, but a strategy is needed to achieve any goals.
The debate over climate change has devolved into name-calling, she continued, while the planet and its natural resources are being destroyed by current policies.
The nation needs to get to a place where everyone agrees it’s in our best interests to protect the world, she said, bringing people together around basic common interests.
“I would lead in this unifying way,” Gabbard said.
Gabbard has won over Julius.
“Everything she says makes sense,” he said. “I don’t get the feeling that she’s in this for a power trip or for herself. I think she’s really focused on making things better and serving the country.”