July 09, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “Medium” – There is much at stake as we look toward the next 5 months, and beyond. We must be engaged. Our voices must be heard on the many important issues that we are tackling — such as environmental protection, health care, education, criminal justice reform, social security, jobs, veterans, campaign finance reform, and more.
There is one issue that impacts all the rest: If we continue to spend trillions of dollars on costly interventionist regime change wars, overthrowing dictators we don’t like, we will not be able to afford to make any real progress on all the other issues that are so important to all of us.
As progressives, we care about the well-being of others. We are soft-hearted, and have aloha, respect, compassion for others and we don’t like to see anyone suffering. As a result, sometimes it’s easy to believe that maybe we should support a regime change war if we believe that war will relieve human suffering.
Proponents of the interventionist wars in Libya and Iraq argued that these actions were justified because of humanitarian concerns. It was pointed out over and over that these countries were in the grips of evil dictators who had to be removed.
That is precisely the same argument being used today to justify our war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.
Hoping to garner the support of the American people, proponents of regime-change wars routinely cite humanitarian concerns to justify military intervention in foreign countries.
But here is the reality: As a direct result of our intervention in Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, human suffering increased dramatically. Terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda took advantage of the Maliki Shia-led government’s persecution and oppression of the Sunni people, and gained a stronghold in Iraq, kidnapping, terrorizing, raping, and killing thousands and thousands of innocent people.
In Libya, when the U.S. led the bombing campaign to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, which began with a no-fly zone, the result was enormous loss of life, and total chaos — Libya today is a failed state, and a haven for ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
There is no denying that the interventionist wars in Iraq and Libya that were propagated as necessary to relieve human suffering actually increased human suffering in those countries — many times over.
There’s an old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Unfortunately, even after seeing how disastrous those wars in Iraq and Libya were, many people who championed those wars are behind the ongoing war to overthrow the Syrian government — even pushing to escalate that war, saying yet again that humanitarian concerns justify overthrowing yet another dictator we don’t like.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know that we’re actually waging two wars in Syria.
The first is the war to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other jihadist groups. This is a war against the terrorists who have declared war on America, and one we must win.
The second is the counterproductive war to overthrow the government of Assad, an illegal war that has not been authorized by Congress, which we must end.
Our war to overthrow the Assad government has strengthened rather than weakened our enemies like ISIS. Working with Saudi Arabia and Turkey we are fueling the brutal civil war that has caused the deaths of over 400,000 Syrians and millions of refugees.
If this war is successful and the Assad government is overthrown, the strongest force that will take over Syria is ISIS and al-Qaeda. This will result in a far worse humanitarian and refugee crisis, a genocide against religious minorities, secularists, atheists, LGBT, and any who do not prescribe to their specific extreme ideology, and will present an even greater security threat to the region and the world.
Recent news of 51 State Department diplomats calling on the President to bomb the Syrian government is unfortunately not surprising. These kinds of bombings and escalation are what will occur if Secretary Clinton does what she says she will do as President, which is establish a so-called safe zone or no fly zone. This action would cost billions of dollars and require tens if not hundreds of thousands of ground troops and a massive U.S. air presence.
It will escalate the war to overthrow the Syrian government, causing more death, destruction and chaos, worsening the refugee crisis, and strengthening ISIS and al-Qaeda.
The first action to implement a No-Fly Zone would be to bomb Russian and Syrian anti- aircraft defense systems, leading to direct confrontation between the world’s two nuclear powers: the U.S and Russia.
Many people simply have not learned from the past. They’ve learned nothing from Iraq & our overthrow of Saddam Hussein; learned nothing from overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya, where ISIS is strongest and most dangerous.
The only way to prevent this is for the American people to come out strongly now, before a new administration comes into power, and say, the war to overthrow the Syrian government must end now.
In order for this to happen, the Obama Administration and Congress need to hear your voices.
On Thursday, I offered an amendment on the House floor that would have begun this process of ending the interventionist war in Syria. 135 bipartisan members of Congress voted for the amendment. However, too many Democrats voted against it, many who consider themselves progressive, many who are well-intentioned but who need to understand that this war, just like the one in Iraq and Libya, will not help the Syrian people. It will simply compound the devastation, suffering, and chaos, making their lives far worse than before. I have introduced a bill, HR 4108 to end this regime change war in Syria and urge you to call on Congress to support this bill.
This is an issue that we’ll have to continue to fight on, but it’s an issue that confronts us right now, because we know there are people in this Administration and in the State Department who are trying to pressure and convince President Obama to escalate this war. We have to let him know that the solution is not an escalation of this war, but rather what’s needed is an end to this regime change war in Syria.
President Obama showed tremendous courage back in 2013 (it was my first year in Congress) when he chose not to carry out airstrikes against the Assad government, to begin yet another war. He needs to hear from us to exercise that same courage once again. Whether it’s through a petition, sending letters, social media, letting your member of congress know — we need to send a strong message that this war must end.
Many of you stood up and protested the war in Vietnam. Many of you stood up and protested the war in Iraq. And many of you stood up against the war to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya.
Now, I’m asking you to stand up once again stand with me to demand an end to the war to overthrow the Syrian government demand an end to interventionist wars.
Let leaders in Washington know that we will not stand idly by and allow our nation to escalate an already devastating war.
Let leaders in Washington know that we do not support overthrowing any dictator we want, acting as the world’s police, as if it’s America’s responsibility to use military force to attempt to remake the world however we want it to be.
Let leaders in Washington know that we must stop wasting our valuable, limited resources on these regime change wars, and instead focus our resources on investing in and rebuilding our nation and communities here at home. We simply cannot afford to do both.
We CAN bring about change when we the people stand up and let our voices be heard.
Tulsi Gabbard – Soldier. Veteran. Surfer. Member of Congress. Doing my best to be of service.