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The "war on terror"

Tulsi outlines four things we must do in order to defeat ISIS and other jihadist groups that have declared war on the United States.

To defeat ISIS and other jihadist groups that have declared war on the United States, we must do four things:

1. We must immediately end the illegal and counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.

There is no question that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator. However, we must focus on defeating our enemy, ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations--not engage in another failed attempt at regime change like we did in Iraq and Libya. As long as we continue to be distracted by the war to overthrow Assad and continue to strengthen our enemies by weakening the Syrian government, we will not be able to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda (al-Nusra), and other jihadist groups who have declared war on the United States. Only if we end our war against the Syrian government of Assad will it be possible to defeat ISIS and other jihadist groups.

Watch

Tulsi Gabbard Talks About Syria on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

2. We must defeat ISIS militarily.

To defeat ISIS, we must work with and support trusted partners on the ground, such as the Kurds, Syrian Arabs, and non-ISIS Sunni Iraqi tribes.  Sending large numbers of US troops into Syria or Iraq would be a very bad idea as it would play directly into ISIS rhetoric characterizing their genocidal mission as a war between the west and Islam, and fuel ISIS’ recruitment activities.  

By working with local partners on the ground, providing advice and air support, along with Special Forces teams who can launch quick strike missions, we can overwhelm ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations and have in place local elements securing and governing the territory retaken.

It is encouraging that President Obama has recently begun exploring ways for the U.S. and Russia to work together to defeat ISIS. It is critical that we remain willing to ally with Russia, Syrian forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and any other forces that are willing to fight against our common enemy.

It is encouraging that President Obama has recently begun exploring ways for the U.S. and Russia to work together to defeat ISIS. It is critical that we remain willing to ally with Russia, Syrian forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and any other forces that are willing to fight against our common enemy.

We formed such distasteful alliances during WWII— working, for instance, with Stalin--which proved essential to defeating Hitler’s Nazi Germany—and now we must be willing to ally with Russia and others with whom we share a common enemy in ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations that have declared war on civilization.

We need to stop trying to create mini-America style centralized governments in the Middle East. We tried this in Iraq, but it’s clear that this has only led to a nation that exists in name only due to the Kurds and Sunnis continued persecution and domination by the Shia-led government. Similarly, we will not be able to bring about a unified government in Syria, which is a lot more divided and chaotic than Iraq ever was. And as long as the civil wars continue, ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups will remain and continue to grow stronger and more of a global threat.

Once the U.S. and our allies stop trying to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad, then we can immediately focus our efforts one-pointedly on defeating ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the other terrorist organizations in a coordinated, cooperative fashion with Russia, the Syrian government, the Kurds, Sunni tribes, France, and the UK.

3. There must be a political solution.

We must encourage and support the creation of semi-autonomous regions in the areas now called Syria and Iraq so that the various sects—the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds—are able to take care of their own governance and security. The dominance and persecution of one sect over another in Iraq is part of what allows ISIS and other Islamist organizations to gain a foothold there. As a result, arriving at a political solution that minimizes sectarian conflict is key to preventing ISIS and other terrorist organizations from continuing to spread and grow.

4. We must defeat ISIS and other Islamist militants ideologically.

In order to defeat the enemy, we need to clearly identify them. We must defeat them in the ideological war, not just on the battlefield. In order to defeat their ideology, we need to recognize what their ideology is.

The ideology that inspires those fighting for ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra and other jihadist organizations is loosely referred to as “Islamism” and can be more specifically identified as Wahhabism. It is the ideology promoted and spread primarily by Saudi Arabia teaching that anyone who does not accept that particular interpretation of Islam must be converted, killed, or in other ways punished. On the Islamists’ list of those who must be killed or punished are Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and followers of other Muslim sects such as Shias, Sufis, and non-Wahhabist Sunnis.

This radical Wahhabist ideology attracts and motivates recruits who are taught that killing “non-believers” is a religious obligation and that any martyr who dies while killing non-believers will be rewarded in heaven.

The United States must use its leverage to pressure Saudi Arabia to stop spreading the Wahhabist extremist ideology through schools and mosques around the world, including in the U.S. We must stop arms sales and any other assistance to Saudi Arabia or other Gulf States involved in promoting and financing this jihadist ideology.

The U.S. must stop treating as “allies” countries that are promoting the Wahhabist ideology that is at the root of so much suffering worldwide.

By calling organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda Islamic or Islamist extremists, we are making a distinction between the vast majority of Muslims who are not extremists and a handful of those who are extremists. This is the best way to show our respect to peaceful Muslims around the world.

Tulsi's position was recently confirmed by a well-respected Muslim activist in Pakistan:

Congresswoman Gabbard is absolutely on the mark in presenting an outline of a policy that should clearly identify Salafi-Wahhabi and Deobandi ideology as the ideology of hate and terror, worse than even Nazism, because it is much more violent. It will also ease the pressure on the common Muslims who can publicly disassociate themselves from these cults. The clear identification of terrorist ideology will actually be a blessing for ordinary Muslims who will whole heartedly join government efforts in rooting out this violent and hateful ideology from the country, and hopefully, the world.

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