Islamic militants’ growing influence in Iraq and Syria is a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in trying to crush them.
President Barack Obama last week approved limited airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham fighters, whose rapid rise in June plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the end of 2011, when U.S. troops withdrew from the country at the end of an unpopular eight-year war. Obama said the current military campaign would be a “long-term project” to protect civilians from the deadly and brutal insurgents.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the militants threaten not just Iraqis but also Americans. He said Obama’s airstrikes were insufficient to turn back the militants and were designed “to avoid a bad news story on his watch.”
“I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and in Iraq,” said Graham, a reliable advocate for U.S. use of military force overseas.
“They are coming here,” Graham later added about the militants. “This is just not about Baghdad. This is just not about Syria. It is about our homeland.”
Graham added that if Islamic State militants attack the United States because Obama “has no strategy to protect us, he will have committed a blunder for the ages.”
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, also said the Islamic State militants pose a threat “in our backyard” and were recruiting westerners.
“Inaction is no longer an option,” she said in a statement as U.S. airstrikes were underway.
The Islamic State group, which some lawmakers refer to as ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, is “getting stronger all the time,” warned Republican Sen. John McCain, a leading critic of Obama’s foreign policy.
“They have attracted 1,000 young men from around the world who are now fighting on their side,” McCain added. “This ISIS is metastasizing throughout the region, and their goal, as they’ve stated openly time after time, is the destruction of United States of America.”
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said Iraqis need to handle their domestic security.
“There is not a U.S. military solution to this issue,” Cardin said.
“We will not become the Iraqi air force,” he added. “I don’t think we can take out ISIS from a military point of view, from the use of our air strikes.”
Full article: U.S. lawmakers warn of ISIS attack on American soil, urge strong response to Islamic terrorists in Iraq (National Post)