Two members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation condemned President Donald Trump’s air strike on a Syrian air force base, with U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard invoking the possibility of nuclear war among the potential ramifications.
In Syria early today (Thursday in Hawaii), U.S. cruise missiles rained down on the military base suspected to be the origin of a deadly chemical bomb air attack on Syrian civilians earlier this week.
Gabbard criticized the U.S. air strike in a written statement. “It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard said. “This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a possible nuclear war between the United States and Russia.”
Gabbard met twice in January with Syrian President Bashar Assad during a much-criticized trip with her husband to Syria and Lebanon. The trip’s organizers have ties to a pro-Assad political party. She also met with the Muslim critic who threatened the U.S. with suicide bombers. She told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in February that it was important to meet with adversaries if there is any chance it will bring about peace.
“This administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning,” Gabbard said in her statement last night.
“If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court,” she said. “However, because of our attack on Syria, this investigation may now not even be possible. And without such evidence, a successful prosecution will be much harder.”
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz released a statement condemning both the use of chemical weapons and the U.S. air strike. “The Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons is abhorrent, but a military response is not the answer,” he said. “The president has failed to articulate a strategy to end the Syrian civil war. A one-off strike may satisfy our desire to hold Assad accountable, but it risks deeper escalation without any sense of direction or objective. And unless this conflict ends, we will never defeat ISIL and prevent its return.
“Regardless, Congress must debate and authorize any escalation of U.S. military involvement against the Syria regime, as it is well beyond the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force,” he said. “The United States must focus on leading a diplomatic effort among our partners and allies in the region to achieve a political solution that results in a post-Assad Syrian government that brings stability to the region.”
The other two members of Hawaii’s all-Democrat congressional delegation were less critical of the U.S. attack, while saying the Republican president must present a strategy for dealing with war-torn Syria.
U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “The repeated use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against his own people is an atrocity and breach of international law, and the international community must hold him accountable. The Civil War in Syria adds layers of complexity in a country and region where there are no easy answers and opportunities for missteps are great.
“In light of this, President Trump must present a coherent strategy for addressing the ongoing situation in Syria, including our own responsibility in confronting the humanitarian catastrophe and refugee crisis,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement, “The U.S. strikes on Syrian military assets Thursday night were a targeted and measured response to what is widely believed to be Bashar al-Assad’s uncivilized and atrocious use of chemical weapons against his own people, especially the children.
“While the U.S. cannot ignore the internationally banned use of chemical weapons, the president’s failure to seek Congressional approval is unlawful and I expect that in the days and weeks ahead, President Trump will work in close coordination with Congress to clarify his administration’s plan to address the civil war in Syria, restore stability in the region and protect the innocent lives of those living in the war-torn state. Further, Congress and the American people deserve a clearer understanding of President Trump’s short term and long term strategies in Syria and the region.”