Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D–Hawaii, is walking a foreign policy tightrope in regards to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The congresswoman, who’s also a captain in the Hawaii National Guard and a veteran of two combat tours in the Middle East, wants very much for the U.S. to “destroy” ISIL (or as some call it, ISIS).
This isn’t a simple suggestion. Indeed, MSNBC just reported that U.S. military leaders are saying the nation needs to prepare for a “generational” war against the Sunni terror organization that seeks to butch Shiites throughout Iraq and Syria. This is a terrifying prospect–a nation more or less permanently at war with non-governmental organizations, forever firing missiles from drone aircraft and deploying special forces teams into countries we haven’t declared war against.
But at the same time, Gabbard is smart enough to know that arming “moderate” Syrian rebels (as though someone can take up arms against their government in a “moderate” fashion) and choosing a side in a civil war is a dark alley that leads not just to an eternal war, but one that’s not winnable. Today, the House of Representatives voted on a bill that authorizes the arming and training of Syrian opposition groups (presumably beyond the covert arming and training that we’re already doing).
This, Gabbard tells us in a Sept. 17 press release that quotes from her remarks today on the House of Representatives floor, is not how we should go to war:
“This proposed strategy actually reflects a lack of commitment to really destroy ISIL,” Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said this afternoon during debate on the House floor, according to her Sept. 17 news release. “We must focus on one mission: to destroy ISIL and other Islamic extremists who’ve declared war on us. Our mission should not be to topple the Assad regime, which would make the situation in the region even worse and more unstable than it is today. We’ve heard this story before. We know how it ends. Look at Iraq. Look at Libya. Clearly, our leaders have not learned their lesson. We must focus on taking out our enemies and investing in our own country here at home.”
Of course, word just came down that the bill sending aid to the rebels passed the House, 273-156.
2012 photo of Syrian rebels: VOA News/Wikimedia Commons