2020 Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said the attack on Saudi Arabia oil tankers allegedly by Iran did not just come out of nowhere. Gabbard called it a “retaliation” by Iran for the “crippling sanctions” that make it difficult to sell their own oil.
“I think we’ve got to look at this situation for what it is,” Gabbard began. “This provocation, as you put it, did not just come from out of nowhere. It is a retaliation. And it’s a retaliation against the extreme sanctions that are on Iran, that’s basically making it impossible for them to sell their oil around the world.”
But there are also people who look back at the things that you have said in the past and, sort of, see that there are kind of two camps in the Middle East. That you have — that you have Iran and Syria with the backing of Russia, and then you have the United States and Israel and the Saudi — and the — Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
So they see you more in the camp that is on the side of Iran and Syria, and they question that, Congresswoman Gabbard. What do you say to them?
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI): Yes, they’re wrong. They’re wrong. I’m not in any of those — any of those different camps.
I am in one camp and one camp alone, it’s — and it’s the camp of the United States of America and the American people. And I took an oath, and I promised to be willing to put my life on the line to serve and protect our country — to protect the people of our country.
So that is my sole focus. It has been, and will continue to be —
MACCALLUM: And we admire that, and we thank you for your service —
GABBARD: Because if you look at the situation —
MACCALLUM: Absolutely. So I guess the next question is what would you do?
MACCALLUM: I mean, we’ve had enormous provocation from Iran.
They have put explosives on tankers. They’ve shot down a drone — that was $130 million by some report — American drone. They’ve taken sailors into custody. So what do you recommend?
GABBARD: Well, I think we’ve got to look at this situation for what it is. This — this provocation, as you put it, did not just come from out of nowhere.
It is a retaliation. And it’s a retaliation against the extreme sanctions that are on Iran, that’s basically making it impossible for them to sell their oil around the world.
So we’ve just got to be clear-eyed about what’s really happening, and how — if we continue down this course — this path we are on — I think you heard former Secretary Panetta allude to this, that — that we will see a cycle of retaliation, tit for tat, just continuing to go forward and escalate. That can only lead to —
MACCALLUM: So lift the sanctions? I’m —
GABBARD: — an all-out inferno.
MACCALLUM: I’m almost out of time — but what would you do, was the question.
GABBARD: As president, right now, what I would do is I would reenter the Iran Nuclear Deal to prevent Iran from continuing to move forward in building a nuclear weapon that — that puts us and the world further at risk.
And number two, yes, end those crippling sanctions.
MACCALLUM: OK, I mean, that’s exactly what they want —
GABBARD: Every day that we don’t —
MACCALLUM: Yes —
GABBARD: Every day that we don’t do this, every day we continue down this failed strategy, Iran gets closer and closer to a nuclear weapon. That’s a fact.