Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 12:05 am
Stop arming terrorists.
That sounds like something you couldn't really argue against. Who would argue for arming terrorists?
Yet, not everyone is for U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's (D-HI) Stop Arming Terrorists Act. There are those who believe she is overstepping her bounds by trying to tell the government what it should be doing for the best interests of the country. Some say she is just going to make it a little more difficult, and a little more undercover so the government can continue to give money to those it needs on its side.
However, like Veterans for Peace, we endorse this move. Rest assured, the government funds and finances activities around the world that 99 percent of us know nothing about. And it's probably just as well. The military, under the argument it must be done to keep America safe, is involved in setting things in motion in governments that one could argue we should steer clear of.
Let's provide a bit of the basics.
The bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R. 608) is cosponsored by Gabbard, Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Yoho (R-FLA) and Garrett Thomas (R-VA) and is endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America, the U.S. Peace Council and Veterans For Peace.
The legislation would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to directly or indirectly support terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS or those working with them. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit funding and support to CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980s, this bill would stop CIA or other federal government activities in places like Syria from using U.S. funds to directly or indirectly support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other groups working with them. It would also prohibit the federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups.
Gabbard recently went on a fact-finding trip to Syria, for which she caught some criticism. But what she saw, the people she met and the hardships they endure, cemented her resolve that she, as representative of her government, had to act. She could not see what she saw, talk to the people, and do nothing to prevent U.S. actions that contributed to their sufferings -- even if it meant, and she surely knew it would, put her under fire.
Barry Ladendofrom, president of Veterans For Peace, put it well in explaining why his organization supports this legislation:
"As veterans we took an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States. The threat to the Constitution comes not from Russia, China or ISIS but from within the walls of Washington D.C. where the Congress and the Executive branch have enmeshed the country in ongoing unnecessary, illegal and unconstitutional wars. As Veterans For Peace we seek to restrain our government from intervening, overtly or covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations.
"Certainly, the U.S. government should not be supporting regime-change wars nor directly or indirectly supporting known terrorist organizations, proxy groups and their allies to violently overthrow established governments."
Kauai, in its unique position in the world geographically and strategic military importance, should appreciate more than most Gabbard's desire to be sure the government acts within its powers to protect its citizens.
Protect the U.S.? Certainly. Do it at all costs? You decide. We think Gabbard got it right.