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Iraq vet Gabbard says Syria strike would be 'serious mistake'

Sep. 9, 2013 - 07:22PM   |  
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Iraq War veteran and freshman lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard announced Monday she opposes a U.S. military strike against Syria.

The Hawaii Democrat says that would be a “serious mistake.”

“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,” Gabbard said.

An attack might hurt more than help, she said. “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.

“As a soldier, I understand that before 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,” she said in a statement. “The proposed military action against Syria fails to meet any of these criteria.”

Gabbard, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, deployed to Iraq in 2004 and to Kuwait in 2009. She remains part of the Hawaii Army National Guard. She said her decision on Syria was made after attending last week’s hearing in which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry testified, as well as several classified briefings.

Her statement comes as the White House is shifting into high gear trying to win support from lawmakers. President Obama is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Senate Democrats, and Hagel and Kerry are scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee.

Gabbard said she is unconvinced of the direct U.S. interest in the bloody Syrian civil war.

“Presently, Syria does not present a direct security threat to the United States,” she said. “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.”

Her concern about war-weariness extends beyond Syria. “We should learn from history; we cannot afford to be the world’s policeman,” she said. “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.”

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