A congressional Democrat and Iraq veteran cautioned that the U.S. has a “real problem” if the current mission in Iraq isn’t to take out ISIS.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who in 2004 chose to serve in Iraq with the Hawaii National Guard over running for a second term in the state’s House of Representatives, appeared on ABC News on Sunday with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air Force veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I think it’s important as we talk about whether or not there should be troops or exactly what tactical strategy should be used moving forward we’re missing a critical question here, which is what is our mission? What is the United States’ mission. What are we trying to accomplish here?” Gabbard said.
“You know, Adam and I both enlisted, joined the military after 9/11 because we heard our nation’s leaders say after that attack that we would go and take out these Islamic extremists wherever they are. We would fight against those who are waging war against the United States,” she said. “That stated mission after 9/11 has been lost… and as we heard from White House officials last week, they said, and I quote, these airstrikes are not an authorization of a broad based counter terrorism campaign against ISIS, end of quote.”
“So if our mission is not to take out the Islamic extremists who continue to threaten and wage war against us, then I think we’ve got a real problem here. If we focus on that mission, which I think we should, then we can look at what are the tactics that we need to take them out.”
Gabbard stressed that “we need to arm the Kurds with heavy weapons, because they are doing the hard work on the ground, they are fighting against ISIS. And we can augment that and support that wit hour targeted air strikes.”
Kinzinger called the situation on the ground “the worst-case scenario.”
“Back in January I called for air strikes against ISIS, in fact, on this show. When they were just about 1,000 or 2,000 people. Today we see them in the tens of thousands and they are only continue to metastasize,” he said.
“I think what we begun doing is very good, but I think we have to get even bigger and realize that the crushing and the pushing back of ISIS, not just in Iraq, but also in Syria, is utmost priority. And allowing the Free Syrian Army who now finds itself in Syria surrounded by both the regime in Syria, al Nusra, and ISIS, has got to be emboldened to be able to fight them back. They need the equipment and the weapons.”
The congressman added, “At the end of the day I think the defeating of ISIS is the mission. And so I think everything has to be on the table for that end result.”
“The reality is they have made it very clear that they want to strike us in the United States of America. They’ve made it clear that they want to strike Europe. And they have the means to do it,” Kinzinger said. “So they have the intention and they have the means, the means being, you know, passports and westerns fighting with ISIS with the ability to get back into the United States or to get back in Europe. I think we have to have a goal of saying, we need to crush ISIS.”
“…I understand that the American people are war weary. I mean, I hear it a lot. But the reality is, is after World War II, Harry Truman didn’t look at the American people and say I know you’re war weary, so Russia is Europe’s problem. He talked about the bigger issue of what American strength means and what it means for security of our land. And he said we’re going to leave troops in Europe.”
Obama, the congressman stressed, “has got to stand up in front of the American people and say, look you may be war weary, but in five or 10 years we don’t want to look back and say that we missed all the signs, all the signals of the intention of these extremists and this is — it’s definitely there and it’s very serious.”