Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor Thursday to advise President Barack Obama to fire the Administration’s entire national security team following reports that Iraq is under siege by Islamic extremists.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been working to exploit Iraq’s military weakness following the U.S. departure from the country along with ongoing unrest in Syria to further its goal of creating an Islamic caliphate across Sunni regions of the two countries.
“Everybody in his national security team, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ought to be replaced,” McCain told reporters on his way to a classified briefing on the deteriorating situation in Iraq.
On the Senate floor, McCain blamed ISIS’s gains in Iraq on the U.S.’s abrupt “withdrawal without victory,” warning that the situation in Afghanistan will soon be the same.
“I say to the President of the United States, get a new national security team in place. You have been ill-served by the national security team you have in place now, and the decisions you have made,” McCain said. “Have that new national security team come up with a strategy to do whatever we can to prevent this direct threat to the national security of this nation.”
McCain also said that a conflict doesn’t end just because the President said it did.
There were varied opinions among other lawmakers about how the U.S. should respond to the immediate threat in Iraq. McCain and with Senator Lyndsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for airstrikes.
“There is no scenario where we can stop the bleeding in Iraq without American airpower,” Graham said
Other lawmakers have argued for a more measured approach.
“It’s unclear how airstrikes on our part can succeed, unless the Iraqi army is willing to fight, and that’s uncertain given the fact that several Iraqi army divisions have melted away,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in a statement. “While all options should be considered, the problem in Iraq has not been so much a lack of direct U.S. military involvement, but a lack of reconciliation on the part of Iraqi leaders.”
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi relied on a familiar Democratic tactic in discussing the Iraq situation: blame George W. Bush.
“I don’t think this is our responsibility, but I do think we were irresponsible going into Iraq for a variety of other reasons…,” she said. “I think this represents the failed policy that took us down this path eleven years ago.”