Sunday’s political talk shows were focused on the ongoing crisis in Iraq, where the militant extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) undermined government control of large swaths of territory last week.
The news shows were dominated by Republicans, who called for swift action from President Barack Obama on both the military and diplomatic fronts.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Senator Lyndsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that the U.S. should target ISIS-held positions in Iraq to weaken the terrorists and prevent them from advancing into the capitol city of Baghdad. The Republican lawmaker also squarely placed the blame for the terror group’s advances on Obama.
“Al Qaida in Iraq, the predecessor to ISIS, was on their back just about gone. Syria blows up. They get reinforcements from Syria into Iraq. Maliki withdrawals from the coalition, he becomes a sectarian leader, Obama’s administration completely hands off and we withdraw troops in 2011. That’s the perfect storm.”
The lawmaker went on to suggest that the President was so intent on being credited with ending the war that the Administration failed to take the appropriate steps to ensure the country’s continued stability.
“I was there on the ground at the request of Secretary Clinton. Maliki, Barzani, and the Sunnis were willing to accept an American force. We wanted the agreement to go through parliament, which would have been a disaster,” said Graham. “The Obama administration wanted to say I ended the war in Iraq, I‘m going to end the war in Afghanistan. This was as predictable as the sun rising in the east. I blame President Obama mightily for a hands off policy when it comes to Iraq.”
On Fox News Sunday, Representative Mike Rodgers (R-Mich.) said that ISIS’s growing strength poses a direct threat to Americans’ safety at home.
“We have to ask one single question: is al Qaida holding [territory] the size of Indiana a problem for the United States?Well, it certainly was when they were in Afghanistan and had time to plan the 9/11 event, and I guarantee you, this is a problem that we will have to face and we’re either going to face it in New York City or we’re going to face it here,” he said.
The lawmaker said that the U.S. can neutralize the threat without putting boots on the ground in Iraq.
“Doesn’t mean troops. Doesn’t mean the same kind of fight. It means you have to have a coordinated effort, but it has to be disruptive through tempo, meaning you can’t fire and release. You have to fire and continue the pressure so that you can dismantle and empower other Arab militaries to be successful,” Rogers said.
Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said that he is open to whatever military response is required as long as the Nation knows what it is getting into, on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
“I’m open to … air strikes, technical support, drones, whatever it takes, but I want to make sure our intel is accurate before we start doing this, and I’m hopeful that they’re getting accurate intel on this,” he said.
Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that the U.S. must act quickly and, if military action is the answer, judiciously.
“When you look at the terrorist training ground operations in Syria and Iraq, I believe it is one of the biggest threats,” McCaul said on ABC’s “This Week”. “Hagel and Kerry need to be in the region, getting a regional strategy together with our allies to deal with this situation, because without their cooperation against the extremists this is not going to happen.”
While other lawmakers said Sunday that all options should be on the table in dealing with the situation in Iraq, Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), an Iraq War veteran, said she is opposed to U.S. involvement.
“We have to … focus our great military on those direct and imminent threats rather than getting distracted by involving ourselves in another civil war that’s occurring in another country between religious factions that have been warring for generations,” she said.
Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), also an Iraq veteran, disagreed.
“If the establishment of a caliphate by an organization that makes al Qaida look like a bunch of kitty cats is not in U.S. national interest to stop it, I don’t know what is,” he said on “State of the Union.”