- - Tuesday, February 7, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tulsi Gabbard is an outstanding member of Congress — and her recent trip to Syria proves it.

Ms. Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, is a remarkable member of Congress. Almost as soon as she was elected to the Hawaii Legislature, she joined her state’s National Guard, and then volunteered to deploy to the Iraq War, to share the hardships and dangers of her enlisted constituents; she worked as a combat medic. When she returned from the war, she went through officer training and combat training, finishing as the honor graduate of her class. When she volunteered for a second tour in the war, it was to serve as commanding officer of a military police unit.

On her next return home, she ran for Congress, and was one of only two women veterans to be elected. She quickly started trying to do what she could to help heal the nation’s wounds — not only the bodily and psychic wounds of her soldiers, but the larger hurts inflicted on the entire nation by over 15 years of fruitless, unending war.

Ms. Gabbard began by demanding real action against radical Islamic terrorism, in a way no other public official was willing to touch. She said the United States must completely stop sending weapons and money to terrorists. In other words, no more guns or money for al Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State.

Most Americans wouldn’t regard such a cutoff as controversial; rather, they might ask what we were doing giving aid to these terrorists in the first place. But our State Department and CIA have been and still are actually sending arms and money to these vicious terrorist forces, as part of their effort to unseat President Bashar Assad of Syria. For these U.S. agencies, and their supporters in Washington and in certain Arab capitals, “regime change” in Syria is more important than eliminating the terrorists who are our deadly enemies, as they prove every day.

Ms. Gabbard points out that any ordinary citizen sending money or weapons to terrorists would be liable to prosecution and prison. How then can agencies of our government be doing so?

Ms. Gabbard has a simple answer: She has introduced legislation to prohibit any part of the U.S. government from aiding terrorists, just as you or I are prohibited. But thus far, the bulk of the Congress supports continuation of the Syrian war, and has not cut off aid to the worst of the terrorists who are attacking Mr. Assad.

While Washington was celebrating the inauguration, Ms. Gabbard went to Syria to see the state of the war for herself. What she found was a country suffering massive death and damage from years of terrorist attacks against its government and people, and unending combat in some of its principal cities. She found no hostility to America or Americans — just fervent pleas from Syrian civilians for us to stop supporting the al Qaeda, Al-Nusra and ISIS terrorists who are killing them. She met with Mr. Assad, with leaders of all the major religious groups in Syria, and with American and international diplomats. Syria is not making war on the United States. It is trying to defend itself against the same terrorists who have been fighting us since we first fought against them in Iraq.

By bringing back evidence from ordinary Syrians that the “moderate” opposition there is a sham to cover for the ISIS terrorists, she has made it possible for us to end their American support. Were the terrorists to succeed and defeat the Syrian government, as fools in Washington apparently still hope, they would likely immediately take over the entirety of Syria, with Lebanon and even possibly Jordan to follow. This would be a catastrophe for us, for the Mideast, for Europe and for the world.

Like Horatio at the bridge, Tulsi Gabbard is leading America’s defense. She needs and deserves our help.

• Adam Walinsky is president of the Center for Research on Institutions and Social Policy.

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