U.S. foreign policy is notoriously bad. Endless wars across the world, the destabilization of the Middle East and Central America, and the support of militant coups abroad are staples of traditional foreign policy. Let it be clear, this is non-partisan: every president, whether Democrat or Republican, has engaged in horrific acts since the establishment of the country.

It is crucial to understand the importance of foreign policy, especially in regards to the United States’ President. The U.S. President has outsize influence when it comes to foreign policy: unlike domestic policy, Congress has little power to influence what the president does and can do with foreign affairs. Because of the power concentrated in the presidency, we must hold our candidates to the highest possible standard.

In the aftermath of the November Democratic debate, where delusion dominated foreign policy proposals, it is necessary to call attention to the positions of each candidate. One candidate has billed herself as the solution to failed American foreign affairs — the “anti-war candidate” — Tulsi Gabbard. One of her central campaign issues is finding solutions to the endless wars which have made the U.S. complicit in a vicious cycle of destabilizing societies like that of Afghanistan for longer than most Spectre readers have been alive.

Tulsi Gabbard claims to be a pacifist and an anti-imperialist, but her foreign policy shows the hypocrisy of her claims. She allies herself with positions which, if enacted by the U.S., would seriously damage the stability of civil societies abroad and lead to the continuation and expansion of ongoing and incipient human rights abuses. Denying this fact is disingenuous.

Like almost all of her House of Representatives colleagues, Tulsi Gabbard voted for the anti-free-speech anti-BDS bill, House Resolution 246, which will make it more difficult for Palestinians and their allies to voice criticism and take action against the Israeli occupation. This vote put her at odds with Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar, among other democrats committed to challenging Zionist hegemony. It indicates that she will fail to act progressively against the human rights violations of Israel: her professed pacifism is superficial.

An anti-war candidate would, surely, not vote against reducing the U.S. military budget, yet Gabbard did just that in 2013, 2014, and 2016. Furthermore, she has expressed support of torture by U.S. intelligence, akin to the heinous abuses committed at Guantánamo Bay or Abu Ghraib. Gabbard stated her defense of the latter by creating the following paraphrased scenario: “if there were a nuclear bomb that would go off unless information is found, I would do anything in my power to keep the American people safe.” This position uses a fantasy scenario to defend the actual torture of human beings in situations shaded with moral grays and no evidence to its efficacy.

Tulsi Gabbard also repeatedly supported Barack Obama's drone program, and has spoken in support of drone warfare as recent as 2018. This program caused the deaths of countless civilians across the Middle East. It also included a “double-tap” strategy — which targets civilians, doctors, and wounded soldiers, defying the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and prosecutable under the War Crimes Act of 1996. Atop of her support for this program, Gabbard voted against accepting Syrian refugees, an immoral and dangerous gambit. Her voting record does not indicate that she will be an anti-war president, a fiction with which she has grossly misled her supporters.

In further regard to Middle Eastern policy, she voted for the “Zero Tolerance for Terror Act,” which sounds very positive, but in reality was used to destroy the Iran deal. The 2015 nuclear framework is an essential component of lasting peace with the country, a goal that Gabbard claims to be committed to. Excessive sanctions pressured Iran and allowed for Trump to push the narrative that Iran was not in compliance with the deal, which he then used to destroy the deal altogether.

In further disregard of human rights violations and weaknesses in the area of peacefulness, Gabbard supported General el-Sisi of Egypt — a militant leader who gained power through a military coup and has had courts sentence masses of people to death.

Tulsi Gabbard is also strangely aligned with the far-right Hindu nationalists in India, specifically with Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India. Modi's past is filled with links to human rights abuses against Muslims in his home state — violent nationalism so extreme that he was barred entry to the U.S. from 2005 to 2014 — and his state apparatus continues to permit atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims. As a governor, Modi was complicit with a Hindu nationalist murderous spree that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Muslims and Christians. To follow, early in 2019, Modi destroyed relations with the Kashmir region and has since cut their phone and internet service — enforcing the communication ban through paramilitary force, which has resulted in extreme police violence.

Modi was also a member of RSS, a group who formerly assassinated Gandhi after accusing him of appeasing Muslims. Modi continues his disastrous militarism to this day, destroying relations with Kashmir and systematically oppressing the Kashmiri people. None of these positions are progressive or fall in line with Gabbard’s “anti-war” rhetoric.

Tulsi Gabbard’s hypocrisy is striking. What she claims is a shift from business as usual is instead a policy of doubling down in support of bloodthirsty regimes and an extension of an indefensible drone war. Should she enter the White House in 2021, her supposedly radical policies would be in line with the existing policies that have led to regional destabilization, masses of people fleeing their home countries, and endless wars across the world. A skyrocketing military budget, unchecked Israeli apartheid, failure to reinstate the Iran Deal, and subjugation of Latin America and the Caribbean all lead to the assumption that Tulsi will continue the same destructive processes that she claims to oppose. What is truly needed is a radical reevaluation of the underlying logic of the empire, something she cannot provide.