Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Says Obama Policies Could Trigger Nuclear War With Russia

The Hawaii Democrat has been a persistent critic of Obama's foreign policy.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) continued her harsh criticisms of the Obama administration's foreign policy, saying opposition to Russian-backed Syrian dictator Bashar Assad could lead the U.S. into a "devastating nuclear war" with Russia.

Gabbard's warning on Tuesday was directed at Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who testified during a House Armed Services Committee hearing about America's strategy to defeat ISIS in Iraq.

Gabbard, a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she could "only presume" that President Barack Obama’s recent decision to deploy American fighter jets to the border between Turkey and Syria was to "target Russian planes." The two countries' "diametrically opposed objectives" with air strikes in Syria, she said, create a "strong potential" for a head-to-head military conflict.

“Russia’s installation of their anti-aircraft missile-defense system increases that possibility of -- whether it’s intentional or even an accidental event -- where one side may shoot down the other side’s plane,” Gabbard told Carter. “And that’s really where the potential is for this devastating nuclear war -- for something that could blow up into something much larger."

Bill Clark via Getty Images

Gabbard, a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, asked Carter whether the Pentagon had assessed potential damages of nuclear war between the two countries.

"Nuclear war would be absolutely unprecedented and ... result in catastrophic destruction," Carter replied. "That is why deterrents are so important. That's why prudence in the field of nuclear matters by leaders all over the world is so essential."

Carter characterized the U.S. disagreement with Russia as a diplomatic problem, not a military danger, according to the National Review.

“We have a different view, a very different view from Russia about what would be constructive for them to do in Syria,” Carter said. “That’s not the same as the United States and Russia clashing.”

Below, watch Tulsi Gabbard's warning about a potential nuclear war with Russia.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly paraphrased Gabbard's comments about the United States' military efforts in Syria.

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