Hawaii Dem takes on Obama
by Kristina Wong, The Hill, May 14, 2015 (excerpt)
One of the toughest critics of President Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who represents his home state of Hawaii.
Gabbard has taken the administration to task for refusing to use the term “radical Islam” and called for the White House to be more aggressive.
In an interview with The Hill, Gabbard said she has spoken to the White House about her criticism, though she has yet to speak with Obama himself.
“The president hasn’t called me. I’ve had a number of ongoing conversations with different people in the administration about some of these issues, both one-on-one, as well as in smaller, classified group settings,” she said.
“I’ve never been asked directly to not do my job. So obviously, there are areas where we’re going to agree to disagree.”
Gabbard, 34, one of the youngest members of Congress, is a Hawaii Army National Guard captain with two deployments under her belt, including a year in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit.
She later served in Kuwait as a platoon commander for a military police unit that accompanied a brigade running convoys. Those experiences have shaped her views on the fight against ISIS and given her credibility as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
While her criticism of Obama would appear risky in Hawaii, where the president remains popular, Gabbard says she simply disagrees with elements of his foreign policy.
“The leadership in our country, unfortunately, is still not looking at this in a comprehensive way,” she said.
Gabbard argues the administration needs to take a closer look at the shared ideology between terrorist groups like ISIS, al Qaeda and Boko Haram, rather than viewing them and their offshoots as separate threats.
“Each of these different groups that are basically all being fueled by the same ideology, and none of them can be defeated with a military-only strategy,” she said.
“There has to be a simultaneous ideological strategy to defeat the ideology that’s allowing them to recruit so heavily, not just in the Middle East, but foreign fighters as well.”....
read ... The Hill