President Obama said the Sunni militants that have taken over parts of northern Iraq pose a “medium- and long-term threat” to the U.S. because of their extreme ideology, although other groups probably have more advanced immediate plans to attack U.S…
“I think it’s important for us to recognize that ISIS is just one of a number of organizations that we have to stay focused on,” Mr. Obama said, noting that groups like al Qaeda and Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped hundreds of young women in Nigeria, are still active.
“This is going to be a global challenge and one that the United States is going to have to address but we’re not going to be able to address it alone. And as I said yesterday, what we can’t do is think that we’re just going to play whack-a-mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up,” the president said. “We’re going to have to have a more focused, more targeted strategy and we’re going to have to partner and train local law enforcement and military to do their jobs as well.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer on Sunday blasted former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration over Iraq as “sick.”…
Boxer, who stressed she supports the “counterterrorism mission” in Iraq, says there’s no appetite for too muscular of a military involvement after America’s long war there.
“The American people don’t want it, the president doesn’t want it, the saner voices in the Senate and the House don’t want it,” she said. “We do have a national security interest in preventing another 9/11. The Iraqis had their chance. They blew it. And I think right now they have got to figure out if they can form an inclusive government.”
“If we were to get rid of Assad, it would be a Jihadist wonderland in Syria,” the Kentucky Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s now a Jihadist wonderland in Iraq precisely because we got over involved not because we had too little involvement.”…
Paul also said he doesn’t believe the Sunni Muslim fighters, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, who are advancing toward Baghdad, pose an immediate threat to the United States.
“It could at some point,” he said. “Right now, if you’re a member of ISIS, you’re looking at the Shi’ites right in front of you in the battles you are fighting. I don’t believe ISIS is, in the middle of a fight right now, thinking, ‘Hmm we should send intercontinental missiles to America.’”
“Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically an isolationist,” Cheney shot back. “He doesn’t believe we ought to be involved in that part of the world. I think it’s absolutely essential. One of the things I worried about 12 years ago – and that I worry about today – is that there will be another 9/11 attack and that the next time it’ll be with weapons far deadlier than airline tickets and box cutters.”…
He argued that the Obama administration is “still living back in the day when they claimed we got bin Laden, the terrorism problem is solved. That wasn’t true then. It’s even less true today. The threat is bigger than it’s ever been.”
Asked about what he would recommend, Cheney argued for a broad-based approach to unrest in the region and also called for bolstering moderates in Syria, the scene of another civil war with ties to the unrest in Iraq. But he also acknowledged that “at this point, there are no good, easy answers in Iraq,” something he blamed squarely on the administration.
Pressed on what specific actions he supports, Rubio urged a severing of supply lines between Syria – home to another civil war – and Iraq; bolstering “moderate rebel forces in Syria,” and more security for nearby Jordan. He also argued that Iran should not be allowed to gain a stronghold in Iraq, pushing back on Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who recently questioned whether the U.S. runs the risk of becoming Iran’s “air force” with miscalculated involvement.
“I don’t agree with that statement, I think that’s quite an exaggeration,” Rubio said. “The truth of the matter is, if we do nothing, Iran is still going to be involved…if Iran goes in there and becomes involved, and somehow helps the Iraqis turn back ISIS, you can rest assured that a future Iraqi government will be completely, 100 percent under the influence and in the pocket of Iran.”