Tulsi Gabbard: Why I'm endorsing Bernie Sanders

Story highlights

  • Tulsi Gabbard: I served in Iraq, know cost of war. U.S. on path to intervention in Syria without a plan. We need judgment, foresight
  • She says she's resigned her DNC post to support Bernie Sanders; he'll bring peace, prosperity, be trustworthy commander-in-chief

Tulsi Gabbard is the United States Representative for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Every four years, we make a choice about who leads our country. It's a choice that can determine whether our nation goes to war. As a veteran of two Middle East deployments, I know firsthand the cost of war.

When I served in Iraq with a medical unit, one of my daily responsibilities was to go through a list of every injury and casualty in the theater of operations and make sure our troops were cared for. The names I saw every day were those of my brothers and sisters in uniform, those who carry the indelible wounds of war. Some of them never came home. All of them sacrificed for all of us.
    Tulsi Gabbard
    Our interventionist wars in Iraq and Libya have cost us trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives; and al Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations are still strong.
    Today, America is again on a path of interventionism without a plan. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Syria, where we are supporting rebel groups allied with al Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
    We are spending billions of dollars to overthrow the Syrian government in a war that has led to hundreds of thousands of Syrians being killed or injured and a refugee crisis like we've not seen in decades.
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    Our military and intelligence assets are on the ground, yet no one can answer a simple question: What happens if the regime falls? If we succeed in overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, it will open the door for ISIS, al Qaeda, and other Islamic extremists to take over all of Syria, which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis and pose a greater threat to the world.
    In the runup to the Iraq War, we heard from leaders with long legacies in the foreign policy realm. Voices of dissent were relegated to the fringes. We were told to follow those with experience.
    Our collective national experience with a decade of reckless interventionism and myopic regime change tells a different story. Judgment and foresight are the qualities we need most in our leaders.
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    To have a strong national defense, we need to elect leaders who make the right decisions. The war in Iraq cost us thousands of American lives, damaged our economy and destabilized a region, unleashing more suffering and chaos in the Middle East.
    There's one Democratic candidate who recognizes the quagmire in Syria. He showed these instincts when he voted against the war in Iraq. He knows that world leadership and being the world's policeman are not the same.
    I spoke with Sen. Bernie Sanders at length about his foreign policy vision. He understands the need for a foreign policy that robustly defends the safety and security of the American people. But he is committed to not wasting precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change. He appreciates that such counterproductive wars undermine our national security and economic prosperity.
    He has never allowed powerful interests or the circular reasoning of the chattering classes to sway him. He is who he appears to be: a man of principle, personal courage and a commitment to justice.
    That's why I'm endorsing Bernie Sanders.
    As vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, I have had to stay neutral in this contest. But I can no longer sit on the sidelines. The stakes are too high.
    As elections continue across the country, the American people are faced with a clear choice. We can elect a president who will lead us into more interventionist wars of regime change. Or we can elect a president who will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.
    With this clear choice in mind, on Sunday I resigned my position with the DNC so I can wholeheartedly support Sanders as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
    America needs leaders we can trust. Others may have more experience in foreign policy, but it is judgment that matters most. When it comes to the choice of our next commander-in-chief, I trust Bernie Sanders to know when to use U.S. military power and when not to use that power.