Tulsi Gabbard: War, Politics, and the Military Industrial Complex | Lex Fridman Podcast #423

Tulsi Gabbard: War, Politics, and the Military Industrial Complex | Lex Fridman Podcast #423

Introduction (00:00:00)

  • Tulsi Gabbard, a former Democrat, is known for her independent thinking and bold political stances, especially on war and the military-industrial complex.
  • She served in the US military for many years, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
  • Gabbard has written a new book called "For Love of Country."
  • Gabbard grew up in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious household in Hawaii.
  • Her father was a Vietnam War veteran who instilled in her a strong sense of patriotism and service.
  • Gabbard joined the Hawaii Army National Guard at the age of 19 and served for 12 years, including two deployments to the Middle East.
  • Gabbard was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002 at the age of 21, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to a state legislature in the United States.
  • She served in the Hawaii State Legislature for eight years, focusing on issues such as education, healthcare, and veterans' affairs.
  • In 2012, Gabbard was elected to the US House of Representatives, representing Hawaii's 2nd congressional district.
  • She served in the US House of Representatives for four terms, focusing on issues such as foreign policy, national security, and veterans' affairs.
  • Gabbard is a vocal critic of the US military-industrial complex, which she believes profits from war and perpetuates conflict.
  • She argues that the US should focus on diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution rather than military intervention.
  • Gabbard has also been critical of US foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and has called for an end to the US's "regime change" policies.
  • Gabbard ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
  • She focused her campaign on issues such as healthcare, education, and climate change.
  • Gabbard also called for an end to the US's "forever wars" and a reduction in military spending.
  • She withdrew from the race in March 2020 and endorsed Joe Biden.
  • Gabbard is currently the host of the podcast "The Tulsi Gabbard Show."
  • She also continues to speak out on issues such as war, peace, and the military-industrial complex.
  • Gabbard is a vocal critic of the Biden administration's foreign policy, particularly its handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

War in Iraq (00:01:07)

  • Tulsi Gabbard, a former Lieutenant Colonel, served in the military and was deployed to Iraq and Kuwait.
  • Her experiences in war exposed her to the human and financial costs, including the enrichment of private defense contractors while soldiers were underpaid.
  • Gabbard became an advocate for peace and an opponent of the military-industrial complex, motivated by her firsthand witness to the devastating impact of war and the sacrifices of soldiers and their families.

Battle injuries and PTSD (00:08:53)

  • Tulsi Gabbard discusses her military service and the challenges soldiers face in war zones, both physically and psychologically.
  • Building relationships and trust with local people in war zones can improve safety and reduce casualties.
  • The military-industrial complex has a strong influence within the US government, with a revolving door between the Pentagon, big defense contracting companies, and Congress.
  • This revolving door allows high-ranking military officers, civilians, and members of Congress to move between writing contracts and policies for the Department of Defense and working for defense contractors, leading to excessive costs and profiteering.

War on terrorism (00:16:03)

  • Tulsi Gabbard believes war is justified when it's in the best interest of national security and when all diplomatic efforts have been exhausted.
  • She criticizes the "war on terrorism" for being used to justify conflicts and policies that violate civil liberties and freedoms.
  • Gabbard argues that the initial mission in Afghanistan after 9/11 should have remained focused on Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, but instead, resources were diverted to the Iraq War, which strengthened terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
  • She emphasizes the importance of understanding the enemy's ideology and defeating it with a superior one, criticizing the Obama Administration for avoiding the term "Islamist terrorism" and instead using "countering violent extremism."
  • Gabbard warns that declaring a war to be over while the enemy is still intent on their goals will only make them stronger.
  • Building relationships with state and religious leaders who share the goal of defeating Islamist terrorism is essential for a united front against these groups.
  • War is an unfortunate reality, but sometimes necessary to ensure safety, security, freedom, and peace.

War in Gaza (00:24:44)

  • Israel's approach should recognize the distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian people.
  • The goal should be for both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace, free from oppression and the threat of extermination.
  • Some in the Israeli government want to repatriate Palestinians to other countries, which exacerbates hatred and resentment.
  • The conflict is a generations-long challenge that requires strong leadership to find a way towards peace.
  • The war in Ukraine can only end through brokered dialogue and conversation about peace between representatives from Russia and Ukraine.
  • Efforts to initiate peace talks shortly after the invasion were thwarted by the Biden-Harris Administration and other Western powers, resulting in the loss of innocent lives.
  • The only way to end the war is for both sides to come to the table and find an agreement, even if it means making concessions.

War in Ukraine (00:28:45)

  • Tulsi Gabbard believes the US President should bring all parties to the table for peace talks, including Zelensky and Putin.
  • The Biden administration's statements and actions suggest their objective is to destroy Russia, which is why they support the continuation of the war and thwart efforts towards peace.
  • Gabbard thinks the Biden administration should encourage Zelensky to engage in peace talks, as diplomacy is the most powerful exercise of diplomacy, especially for a president whose primary role is commander-in-chief.
  • Gabbard emphasizes the importance of basic human camaraderie and understanding that there are intelligent and witty people on both sides of the conflict, even in times of war and hate.
  • She cites the Cuban Missile Crisis as an example of the power of secret communication between leaders to avoid catastrophic conflict, while also acknowledging the manipulative nature of leaders and the need to be cautious in negotiations.

Syria (00:32:31)

  • Tulsi Gabbard criticizes the lack of courage among leaders to engage with adversaries like Bashar al-Assad for peace and understanding, arguing that such engagements are weaponized and politicized by vested interests.
  • Gabbard warns against labeling those who oppose war as "lovers" or "supporters" of dictators, drawing parallels to the treatment of those who opposed the Iraq War.
  • She highlights the mainstream media and Congress's lack of interest in alternative perspectives and comprehensive analysis of conflicts, citing her experience in Syria as an example.
  • Gabbard cautions against simplistic narratives and the potential consequences of regime change in Russia, suggesting that Putin's removal could lead to more aggressive and expansionist leaders taking power.
  • She emphasizes the importance of friendly competition, citing the Space Race as an example of positive outcomes such as engineering and scientific breakthroughs, inspiring dreams of space exploration, and fostering collaboration between nations.

Warmongers (00:40:13)

  • Former US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard addresses criticism labeling her as a darling of Putin and Russia.
  • The accusations arose when she announced her presidential candidacy in 2019 and were amplified by influential figures like Hillary Clinton.
  • Gabbard asserts that these baseless accusations aim to discredit those questioning war objectives or the military-industrial complex.
  • She and other colleagues faced similar attacks and were labeled as traitors for attempting to pass legislation protecting civil liberties.
  • Gabbard views these tactics as distractions from important issues and draws parallels to the treatment of figures like Trump, Bobby Kennedy, and Rand Paul.
  • One reason for leaving the Democratic Party was the lack of challenge to warmongers within the party in recent years.
  • The Democratic Party lacks debate on foreign policy, with consequences for those challenging the Biden administration's position.
  • Nuanced discussions on achieving peace in the Ukraine conflict were quickly dismissed, and alternative perspectives were labeled as evil.
  • The military-industrial complex and war profiteers are seen as driving forces behind the conflict, exploiting people's tendency to divide the world into good and evil.
  • The National Security State and the military-industrial complex, extending beyond government and into powerful media outlets, hold significant power and use various tools to silence dissent.
  • President Eisenhower's farewell address warned of this cabal of war mongers, emphasizing that only a free people exercising their constitutional rights can effectively counter their influence.

Nuclear war (00:49:33)

  • Tulsi Gabbard warns of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear war and criticizes the dangerous rhetoric surrounding nuclear weapons.
  • She emphasizes the need to educate the public about the true risks of nuclear war and dispels the false sense of security created by inadequate preparedness measures.
  • Gabbard highlights the carelessness and lack of urgency among government officials regarding the threat of nuclear war and recommends listening to her podcast for further insights.
  • She stresses the importance of electing leaders who can think independently and resist warmongering momentum during critical moments.
  • The warmongering establishment in Washington often suppresses dissenting voices and reasonable perspectives, leading to self-censorship and a lack of thoughtful decision-making.
  • Tulsi Gabbard highlights the importance of asking critical questions about military involvements, even when it requires courage within an institution.
  • US presidents possess substantial power, including the ability to end or initiate wars, but they often make decisions based on fear of losing power rather than what is right.

TikTok ban (01:05:01)

  • The Anti-TikTok bill, despite its name, is primarily an assault on freedom of speech and liberty, giving the executive branch the power to decide which social media platforms are acceptable for use.
  • The bill raises concerns about the potential targeting of platforms like Twitter under Elon Musk, who has been critical of government censorship and is involved in international business, including in China.
  • Tulsi Gabbard criticizes the government's attempts to control what people see and say, emphasizing the importance of free speech and open debate.
  • Gabbard warns against the dangers of censorship and the erosion of civil liberties, highlighting the need for transparency and accountability from both social media companies and the government.
  • Gabbard discusses the military-industrial complex and its influence on politics and war, warning of its potential to lead to oppression and darkness.

Bernie Sanders (01:17:06)

  • Gabbard explains why she resigned as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary.
  • The DNC required officers to remain neutral during primaries, but Gabbard observed that the chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was favoring Hillary Clinton.
  • The mainstream media portrayed Clinton as the most qualified candidate without scrutinizing her record, especially in foreign policy.
  • Gabbard believed Sanders was a non-interventionist and wanted to inform voters about Clinton's record so they could make an informed decision.
  • She appreciated Sanders' authenticity and consistency in his positions.
  • Tulsi Gabbard, a former US congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate, discusses war, politics, and the military-industrial complex in a conversation with Lex Fridman.
  • Gabbard criticizes the military-industrial complex, arguing that it perpetuates war and undermines democracy.
  • She highlights the influence of defense contractors and the revolving door between the military and the defense industry.
  • Gabbard emphasizes the need to reduce military spending and redirect resources to social programs.

Politics (01:22:01)

  • Tulsi Gabbard left the Democratic Party due to its opposition to freedom, control by an elitist cabal of warmongers, and promotion of a "woke" agenda that rejects objective truth.
  • Gabbard believes the Democratic Party's desire for power has led to the destruction of the Republic, democracy, and freedom, and criticizes the party for its lockstep mentality and intolerance of dissent.
  • She criticizes both the Democratic and Republican parties for their warmongering and lack of commitment to freedom, and emphasizes the need to elect leaders who uphold the Constitution and represent the people's interests.
  • Gabbard expresses disappointment in Barack Obama for surrounding himself with establishment figures and failing to uphold his promises of change, leading to heartbreak among his supporters.
  • She raises concerns about the Patriot Act, NSA surveillance, and violations of civil liberties, highlighting Obama's failure to address these issues despite his previous criticism.
  • Gabbard suggests that political motivations, such as campaign funding and legacy concerns, can prevent presidents from acting on their ideals, citing Obama's inaction against big Pharma despite a strong case against them in the opioid crisis.
  • She emphasizes the importance of leaders having courage, resisting the love of money and power, and surrounding themselves with courageous individuals focused on cleaning up corruption in the federal government.
  • Gabbard hopes that if Trump is re-elected, he will learn from his mistakes and avoid surrounding himself with warmongers who go against his policies, as his success threatens powerful interests in Washington.

Personal attacks (01:40:52)

  • Tulsi Gabbard has faced many personal attacks and misrepresentations in her political career.
  • She deals with these attacks by having a clear sense of purpose rooted in her dedication to God and a desire to serve others.
  • Gabbard does not seek to please politicians or the media, but rather focuses on doing her best to please God and work for the well-being of others.
  • Despite the attacks, Gabbard remains focused on her purpose and draws her happiness, fulfillment, and strength from pleasing God.

God (01:43:01)

  • Tulsi Gabbard, a Hindu, discusses the central role of faith in her life, providing her with strength, peace, and happiness.
  • Hinduism, a monotheistic religion with one God known by many names, is welcoming and accepting of other religions.
  • The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu scripture, offers universal truths applicable to all, regardless of religious beliefs.
  • Gabbard's upbringing included bedtime stories from both the Bhagavad Gita and the New Testament, reflecting her parents' pursuit of a personal relationship with God.
  • Gabbard emphasizes the significance of love for God, irrespective of the name or form of worship, and views religion's true purpose as serving others.
  • She seeks solace, clarity, and strength from God during challenging times, cultivating a personal and loving connection with the divine.
  • The military-industrial complex, a recent phenomenon in American history, poses the risk of misplaced power and undue influence.

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