Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

Congressional Leaders Back Iraq Airstrikes; Hawks Push for Broader War on ISIL

Updated 11:22 a.m. | Congressional leaders are backing President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize air strikes in Iraq as the first bombs began falling, although hawks are pushing for a far broader military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also knowns as ISIS.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, announced Friday morning that the U.S. had dropped bombs on assets of the group.

“Two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil. ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located,” Kirby said. “The decision to strike was made by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief.”

Aimed at thwarting the growing power of the insurgent terrorist organization, the air strikes were largely applauded on both sides of the aisle.

Republicans, however, added a certain degree of finger-wagging that Obama had not acted sooner or with a clear endgame, and general accusations that the administration’s attitude toward violence in the region has been too lax.

“The president’s authorization of airstrikes is appropriate,” said Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement, “but like many Americans, I am dismayed by the ongoing absence of a strategy for countering the grave threat ISIS poses to the region. Vital national interests are at stake, yet the White House has remained disengaged despite warnings from Iraqi leaders, Congress, and even members of its own administration. Such parochial thinking only emboldens the enemy and squanders the sacrifices Americans have made.”

“The President’s decision to use force in Iraq was appropriate given the circumstances. We must all understand that ISIS threatens both the Iraqi people and poses a clear and present danger to the United States,” said House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., in a statement Thursday evening following Obama’s announcement of the plan of action.

But McKeon added: “It is regrettable that ISIS’ rise was preventable.”

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, also weighed in with a statement. “The current crisis in Iraq is symptomatic of this Administration’s willingness to defy the reality that terrorism is metastasizing throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. Over the past year, the White House has been continually warned about the growing threat of this terrorist organization that is too extreme for al Qaeda. Now, ISIS has created the largest terrorist safe haven since 9/11, massacring civilians along the way, and poses a threat to the United States.”

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a joint statement shortly after Obama’s announcement Thursday night, calling for broader action.

“A policy of containment will not work against ISIS. It is inherently expansionist and must be stopped. The longer we wait to act, the worse this threat will become, as recent events clearly show,” McCain and Graham said. “We need to get beyond a policy of half measures. The President needs to devise a comprehensive strategy to degrade ISIS. This should include the provision of military and other assistance to our Kurdish, Iraqi, and Syrian partners who are fighting ISIS. It should include U.S. air strikes against ISIS leaders, forces, and positions both in Iraq and Syria. It should include support to Sunni Iraqis who seek to resist ISIS. And none of this should be contingent on the formation of a new government in Baghdad.”

Senior Democrats were more supportive, lauding Obama’s actions and putting the onus not on the administration’s foreign policy vision but on the Iraqi government to address the region’s unrest.

“The President reiterated, there is no American military solution to the situation in Iraq. Defeating ISIS will require Iraq’s leaders to see beyond their divisions and come together to fight this common threat. These actions are the only way to achieve durable security and stability for all Iraqis,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. “I was pleased by the President’s continued assurances that he will not send U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq.”

Sen. Carl Levin. D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee said in a statement that he had called for increasing assistance to the Kurds.

“I support the actions President Obama announced tonight. There are a number of justifications for these actions, but the reasons he cited are surely sufficient,” Levin said. “It is helpful that the government of Iraq has requested our assistance, and it would also be helpful under the circumstances, though not necessary, for a number of neighboring countries to publicly support our actions.”

Washington Democrat Adam Smith, the ranking member on the House Armed Services panel, agreed.

“We must continue to remember that the U.S. militarily alone cannot resolve this conflict. For years, we had tens of thousands of troops in Iraq, yet the sectarian conflict continued. In order for real and lasting peace to take hold, the Iraqi people must create an inclusive and fully representative government,” Smith said. “It is long past time that the Iraqi government step-up and confront ISIS, both militarily and politically.”

There was one early opponent from the president’s party — Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida tweeted out his opposition and started a petition to oppose it.

Related stories

FAA Bans Flights Over Iraq

Levin: No Iraq Airstrikes Without Backing of Sunnis, Kurds

ISIS Hitting a Wall in Iraq

The Scary Iraq News, and U.S. Options

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  • Ro

    By The Grace of Ahura Mazda

    Well until last night I never have heard of The Yazidi’s ?,and then I start reading that thier Roots are from Zoroastrianism ?

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    The Religon of The PERSIAN EMPIRE for over 1,100 + Years !…..The Religon of The Great Persian KINGS ! : CYRUS ! DARIUS ! XEREXES ! SHAPUR !

    Furthermore Zoroastrianism,has ALSO INFLUENCED The 3 Major Current Religon’s : Especially Judaism !,as far as thier Foundation !

    Unfortunately,Thanks to that ( alleged ? ) ‘ Peaceful ‘ Religon know as Islam.

    There are less than 250,000 ZOROASTRIAN left in te World !

    Thanks to over 1,100+ YEARS of SYSTEMATIC GENOCIDE ! at The End of Islam’s SWORD ! in Persia.

    Which is why Our Cousin’s ‘ The Parsis ‘,had to Flee Persia to India,to Save our Religon,and Race !

    Due to the Countless MASSACERS ! in Persia,in the 9th Century ! .

    I’ve said this before,and I’ll say this AGAIN ! : If you want to know just how ‘ Peaceful ‘ ? Islam is. ?

    Go READ THe History bettween The ZOROASTRIANS,and The Muslims !

    Better yet,If your to Lazy to READ ?…..Well then WATCH this short Documentary,and WAKE UP and EDUCATE yourself ! :

  • Jack Everett

    By most of us it was seen as lip service when Obama said we had no more troops in Iraq and we would not be going back. Obama and his chicken hawk friends will have troops back in Iraq before the summer is over.

    We need to put an end to these never ending wars by reinstating the draft because its the only thing that will make Americans wake up to reality

    Let Obama and his republican chicken hawks go over and lead their deluded troops. Better yet drop Bush and Cheney into the middle of the mes they created..

  • Packard Day

    Let’s all agree that the wanton killing of innocent women, children, and old men is a terrible, terrible thing (see: Rape of Nanking, China in 1937). Okay, got it. Check, check, and double check. Sometimes really bad things happen to innocent people in this world. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

    So, who in America wishes to volunteer to “bell this newest cat?” Anyone reading Rollcall today who is dropping what they are doing to go enlist in the Marine Corps to set things right? How about your kids? Anyone out there now encouraging their own sons to go join the US Army to put an end to the slaughter in Iraq?

    You see, coming up with the brilliant idea to “bell the ISIS cat” costs less than nothing. Getting the order to actually do it, however, is where genuine commitment comes in.

  • aftermidnight

    We are being manipulated into another war by our government and our MSM. This time, the only rational–or pretext–is humanitarianism. So we’ll slaughter people we hate to prevent the slaughter of people we don’t much like. We don’t care about any of these people one bit or we’d stop bombing them. The reality is that this new military effort is not about humanitarianism at all; it is about the control of oil and putting people in power that are completely subservient to the U.S. (the U.S. doesn’t really like al-Maliki) . The manipulation of the people of the U.S. is like taking candy from a baby–the same, identical process repeats itself over and over again and people NEVER learn. I’ve been the target of government and corporate lies since the utterly immoral and brutal Vietnam War in which well over 1 million Southeast Asians were slaiughtered by the U.S. military. I was young and naive and largely belived what I was told. But I haven’t been onboard will a single U.S. military intervention since then. I can’t think of a single troublespot in the world that does not have U.S. fingerprints all over it. Every one is the product of past or present U.S. military intervention or U.S. subversion.

  • Jack Everett

    Here we go again Obama and his chicken hawk friends are going to murder more innocent Iraqi people and claim its necessary to save them from terrorists. America and its corporate military complex started this with their arming of terrorists in Syria knowing what the backlash would be. Why are we needed to protect troops that are not supposed to be in Iraq any longer? Obama and his republican chicken hawks should be make to go and lead the troops that will be headed there soon.

  • Joker Davis

    Whether it’s the Middle East or elsewhere, George Washington warned us of the perils of foreign favoritism:

  • Jack Horton

    I’ve found this to be a useful introduction to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East:

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