Rep. Gabbard Warns of Nuclear War from U.S. 'War To Overthrow Assad'
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) questioned Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on the looming danger of a devastating thermonuclear war with Russia as a consequence of Barack Obama's policies in Syria.
GABBARD: Since our policy to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad has brought us, essentially, into a direct head-to-head conflict with Russia, I have some important questions along this line. How many nuclear warheads does Russia have aimed at the U.S., and how many does the U.S. have aimed at Russia?
CARTER: Congresswoman, I will get you those precise numbers as best we know them. [Then states that both sides have an awesome nuclear capacity.]
GABBARD: Right. And it would be correct to say that both of our countries have the capacity to launch these nuclear weapons within minutes?
CARTER: We do.
GABBARD: I've seen pictures, images from Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and I know you have as well. I assume you would agree with me that nuclear war would be devastating for the American people; the amount of suffering it would cause to our families, to our children, our communities, our planet, to future generations, is difficult to imagine. So I'm wondering if there's been an assessment that has been done, of how many lives would be lost, and the damage that would be done if this nuclear war between our two countries were to occur?
CARTER: Congresswoman, I've been doing this for a long time, since the Cold War, and working on nuclear weapons since the beginning of my career. There have been estimates made right along, when it was the Soviet Union, then with Russia, and it is as you say: Nuclear war would result in catastrophic destruction. That is why deterrence is so important; that is why prudence by leaders all over the world is so important.
GABBARD: So, the fact that we now have our F-15s patrolling the Turkey-Syria border, with a primary air-to-air combat operation — there is no air-to-air combat against ISIS; they don't have any air assets; so, I can only presume that the purpose of these planes is to target Russian planes. Is that accurate?
CARTER: Congresswoman, let me answer the point you began with. We have a very different view from Russia, about what would be constructive for them to do in Syria. We have that disagreement. We can't align ourselves with that they're doing. We're opposing, and want them to change, what they're doing in Syria. That's not the same as the United States and Russia clashing. I think the Chairman [Gen. Joseph Dunford] and his Russian counterpart [Gen. Valery Gerasimov] talked about yesterday, about making sure that we don't have, by accident, any incident involving U.S. and Russian forces. ...
GABBARD: But that sharp disagreement, with two diametrically opposed objectives — one, the U.S. government seeking to overthrow the government of Assad; the other, Russia seeking to uphold the Syrian government of Assad — creates that potential, that strong potential and strong likelihood for head-to-head combat — or that head-to-head military conflict. And Russia's installation of their anti-aircraft missile defense system increases that possibility of — whether it's an accidental or intentional event, where one side may shoot down the other side's plane. And that's really where the potential is for this devastating nuclear war, for something that could blow up into something much larger.
CARTER: I have to disagree with something you have said....