VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Opposes Arming and Training Syrian Rebels, Saying Strategy is Unrealistic & Could Lead to Worse Outcome

September 17, 2014
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today called for her colleagues in Congress to vote against H. J. Res. 124, which will authorize the President to equip and train Syrian opposition forces. Congresswoman Gabbard, a twice-deployed Army combat veteran who has served two tours of duty in the Middle East, implored Congress to vote down the resolution because it is not focused on the stated mission of defeating ISIS.
 
“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. “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.”
 
Congresswoman Gabbard also called the strategy unrealistic, the mission unclear, and said we do not understand who the opposition forces are, cannot trust them, and raised the prospect that our weapons could fall into the hands of our enemies.
 
 
Video of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s remarks on the House floor today is available here. A full transcript of her remarks is below:
 
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
Remarks in Opposition to H. J. Res. 124
September 17, 2014

 
Madam Speaker, I stand in opposition to this amendment, because this proposed strategy actually reflects a lack of commitment to really destroy ISIL and the other Islamic extremist groups that we are at war with. Here are just a few reasons why I’ll be voting no:
 

  • First, it’s unrealistic.  It will take way too long and the number of fighters trained will be way too small to be truly effective in the fight against ISIL; over that period of time, ISIL will continue to grow in strength.
  • Number two, the mission is unclear.  The American people want ISIL destroyed, but the primary objective of the fighters that we train will be to overthrow Assad.
  • Number three, we don’t really know who they really are.  Presently, they are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists and therefore can’t be trusted.
  • The weapons and training that we give them may end up actually being used against us and our allies.

 
Voting to support this proposal is actually a vote to overthrow Assad, because overthrowing Assad is the primary objective of the so-called Free Syrian Army.
 
If we combine the missions of destroying ISIL and overthrowing Assad, this is not a smart or effective strategy for a number of reasons.
 
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.
 
Madam Speaker, 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.
 
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