- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed Army veteran, is taking heat from liberals in the media for criticizing President Obama’s strategy to defeat Islamic State militants and the administration’s refusal to identify radical Islam as the enemy.

“Every soldier knows this simple fact: If you don’t know your enemy, you will not be able to defeat him,” Ms. Gabbard said, Fox News reported Saturday. “Our leaders must clearly identify the enemy as Islamist extremists, understand the ideology that is motivating them and attracting new recruits, and focus on defeating that enemy both militarily and ideologically.”

Ms. Gabbard, who is a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, told Fox that the administration’s fear of associating radical terrorist groups with the Islamic faith were “unfounded.”

“I think recognizing and being very accurate and very specific and understanding this must be a core part of our strategy, to defeat those who seek to do harm to the American people is exactly how we must be looking at this issue and remain very focused on it,” Ms. Gabbard said, Fox reported.

But political experts in her home state have criticized the rising Democratic star for challenging a president from her own party, and worry she has jeopardized her prospects for re-election in one of the bluest states.

“While Gabbard is correct in her ‘emperor has no clothes’ moment, she may have lost her future seat on Hawaii’s political bench,” said Michael W. Perry, of Hawaii’s “Perry & Price” KSSK radio show.

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Mr. Perry said Ms. Gabbard had committed a “mortal sin” by challenging the president and “now the knives are coming out,” Fox reported.

Bob Jones, a columnist for the Oahu-based Midweek, wrote that Ms. Gabbard’s comments were out of line.

“I take serious issue when somebody who’s done a little non-fighting in Iraq, and is not a Middle East or Islamic scholar, claims to know better than our President and Secretary of State how to fathom the motivations of terrorists, or how to refer to them beyond the term that best describes them — terrorists,” Mr. Jones said.

But others in the military community have stepped forward to defend Ms. Gabbard, saying her remarks are courageous and correct.

“[Gabbard] has taken a very courageous stand in a party that just refuses to face reality,” said Retired U.S. army Lt. Gen. Michal Flynn, who directed the Defense Intelligence Agency, Fox reported.

Former intelligence officer and noted specialist on Islamic law, Stephen Coughlin told Fox, “Rep. Gabbard is correct as a matter of history, she is correct as a matter of current events, and she is correct of published Islamic law.”

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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