Tulsi Gabbard: Yes, America bears some blame for Iran shooting down that Ukrainian jet


Between this and last month’s weak-ass cop-out on the big impeachment vote, she’s repaying her righty fans richly for their inexplicable political interest in her.

There was suspense surrounding her vote on impeachment, though. There was no suspense as to whether she’d agree with Pete Buttigieg that moral culpability for the Ukrainian jet shootdown is shared between Iran and the United States even though it was Iran’s own negligence that brought the jet down, with not a single bullet fired that evening by the U.S. A rule of thumb that will stand you in good stead during Gabbard interviews: When offered an opportunity to deflect blame from Iran or its proxies (notably Bashar Assad) for the region’s problems, she’ll take it every time.

If it were a simple matter of her wanting to communicate that war inevitably leads to escalation and therefore should be avoided, she could have made that point without involving the jet. Their proxies attacked our embassy; then we attacked their general; then they attacked our air bases; then we sanctioned them; and now it’s their turn to retaliate for that. People have died and more people will. She could have bracketed the calamity with the jet as something different, an example of “the fog of war” and Iranian incompetence. But ardent doves like Gabbard are a mirror image of ardent hawks like Lindsey Graham in that their urgency to advance their position leads them easily into demagoguery of domestic opponents, even when those opponents are allies on unrelated issues. Graham votes with Mike Lee and Rand Paul on most business before the Senate but that didn’t stop him from accusing them of “empowering the enemy” by trying to assert Congress’s constitutional power over declaring war. Gabbard has become MAGA Nation’s favorite Democrat for her isolationism and her willingness to break with party orthodoxy on some issues (e.g., she believes in borders) but that doesn’t stop her here from endorsing the Buttigieg view of Trump’s culpability.

The best part is the slightly annoyed, “Are you implying that they did this intentionally?” How dare Bill Hemmer impute sinister motives to the great Iranian nation.

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The interesting word, though, is “foresight.” It was foreseeable when the U.S. liquidated Soleimani that Iran would retaliate, just like it was foreseeable when they besieged the embassy in Baghdad that Trump would respond. It was not obviously foreseeable that Iran wouldn’t take precautions to avoid shooting down its own passenger jets on a night when its missile defenses were on high alert. But Gabbard’s agenda is that military hostilities — at least with Shiite regimes — are always and necessarily unjustified, and so she takes the most expansive possible view of “foresight.” We can’t foresee which individual mistakes will happen in war but we can certainly foresee that some mistakes will. Ergo, their mistakes are our fault. Either we comply with the wishes of the Iranian regime, starting with full withdrawal from Iraq, or we’re responsible for every bit of carnage that follows.

I wonder if her pal Tucker Carlson will embrace this talking point too. I missed his show last night and haven’t seen anything online today suggesting he attributed blame for the jet shootdown to the White House, so I assume he hasn’t. Maybe that’s a bridge too far for Tucker’s own dovish impulses, although I doubt it. More likely, he realizes that he has to choose his words carefully in how he sells isolationism to the Fox faithful. They’ll tolerate hosts being anti-war, they won’t tolerate them being anti-Trump. “The blood of those passengers is on your hero’s hands” is a tough pitch to Republican viewers.

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