WASHINGTON — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), an Iraq War veteran, on Monday announced her strong opposition to U.S. military intervention in Syria.
She made her decision after returning to Washington early last week for the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the situation in Syria, and attending several classified briefings with Obama Administration officials and meetings with her colleagues in the House and Senate. She released the following statement:
“I am sickened and outraged by the carnage and loss of lives caused by the use of chemical weapons in Syria. It is with gravity that I have carefully considered all the facts, arguments, and evidence and soberly weighed concerns regarding our national security and moral responsibility. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that a U.S. military strike against Syria would be a serious mistake.
“I will therefore vote against a resolution that authorizes the use of military force in Syria. I will also strongly urge my colleagues to do the same.
“The reasons behind my decision are many. Here are a few:
“As a soldier, I understand that before taking any military action, our nation must have a clear tactical objective, a realistic strategy, the necessary resources to execute that strategy — including the support of the American people — and an exit plan. The proposed military action against Syria fails to meet any of these criteria.
“Presently, Syria does not present a direct security threat to the United States. Military action will undermine our national defense, as even a limited strike could very easily escalate into a regional conflict, stretching thin a military that has been at war for more than 12 years.
“We should learn from history; we cannot afford to be the world’s policeman. The United States should not insert itself in the midst of this civil war, which is rooted in sectarian hatred and animosity between various warring religious groups.
“All Americans are saddened and angered by the carnage that has resulted from the use of these chemical weapons. However, even after the many hearings and classified briefings I have attended, I am unconvinced that this military strike would eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons or prevent them from being used again. Indeed, the risk may increase, due to the possibility these weapons could fall into the hands of Syrian opposition group factions such as Al-Qaida, who we can be confident would use them without hesitation.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) on Monday expressed her support for a diplomatic approach that had been proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry. Hanabusa is opposed to President Obama’s call for military action.
“I am encouraged to hear that a diplomatic alternative to punitive military strikes in Syria has been presented,” Hanabusa said, “and believe that the Obama Administration should fully weigh the idea and feasibility of placing all existing Syrian chemical weapons under control of the international community.
“If the U.S. wants others to respect international law, we must lead by example. I have remained steadfast in my opposition to punitive military action in Syria, and reiterate that U.S. military involvement lacks a compelling legal basis, a clear long-term strategy, and vital international and domestic approval.
“In addition to immediately accounting for and surrendering all existing chemical weapons, Syria should become a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention. This development will allow continued oversight by the international community to ensure that Syria discontinues the production of chemical weapons and destroys its existing stockpile.
“Moving forward, I hope that the U.S. and its allies can continue to work with the international community towards a diplomatic solution to the larger Syrian conflict.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) has announced that he will oppose military intervention, and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) hasn’t officially taken a position, but said in a statement, “The use of chemical weapons is universally abhorrent and deplorable, but we should always be cautious about the use of force abroad, especially after the rush to war in Iraq.”