Republicans on Friday gave grudging approval to President Obama's decision to launch airstrikes in Iraq even as they pushed him to adopt a broader strategy in the country.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) "appropriate," but in a statement he said he was "dismayed dismayed by the ongoing absence of a strategy for countering the grave threat" the terrorist group 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 needs a long-term strategy – one that defines success as completing our mission, not keeping political promises – and he needs to build the public and congressional support to sustain it."
A leading advocate of increased U.S. intervention, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), responded to Obama's Thursday night announcement in a series of tweets:
I completely support humanitarian aid as well as the use of air power to stop ISIS advance toward beleaguered civilian populations.— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) August 8, 2014
However the actions announced tonight will not turn the tide of battle.— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) August 8, 2014
The president must come up with a coordinated military strategy to deal w the growing threat. Longer we wait, worse this situation becomes.— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) August 8, 2014
Graham later issued a joint statement with his fellow Senate Republican hawk, John McCain (Ariz.), in which they said the airstrikes and humanitarian were "far from sufficient" to meet the ISIL threat and suggested the president was pursuing a "policy of half measures" in Iraq.
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.
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."
McCain swiped at Obama on Twitter on Friday morning, re-posting a remark by the president from January in which compared the Islamic State to a "jayvee team."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a potential presidential candidate in 2016, said in a statement he was "encouraged" by Obama's decision. While a possible Rubio rival, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), has advocated a more limited U.S. role abroad, Rubio has staked out an interventionist position.
It is important to remember that ISIL threatens not just Iraqis but also the security of the United States and our allies in the region as it consolidates its control of territory that can be used as a base from which to launch attacks.
“That is why I've been urging President Obama since June to conduct airstrikes against ISIL targets and to provide additional lethal assistance and other support to the Iraqi government."