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Armed Services chair slams Obama on Iraq

"There are no quick fix solutions to this crisis and I will not support a one shot strike that looks good for the cameras but has no enduring effect."
By Gabrielle Levy Follow @gabbilevy Contact the Author   |   June 13, 2014 at 3:09 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) -- House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon slammed President Obama Friday over the administration's response to rising violence in Iraq.

McKeon, R-Calif., charged the administration with sending inconsistent messages to the Middle East, worsening the crises in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

"The White House has a history of 'considering all options' while choosing none," McKeon said. "There are no quick fix solutions to this crisis and I will not support a one shot strike that looks good for the cameras but has no enduring effect."

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a terrorist group so extreme it was even disavowed by al-Qaida, have poured over the dissolving border between Syria and Iraq, taking advantage of chaos in the latter to advance its goal of establishing an Islamist state in both. In the past week, its militants took over parts of Tikrit and Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, sending thousands fleeing.

Obama said Friday that the White House had yet to settle on a plan, even as pressure ratcheted up for the U.S. and its allies to step in and help the Iraqi government expel the terrorists. He pressed Iraq's leadership, as well as its neighbors to act as well.

"Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq," he said, "and nobody is going to benefit from seeing Iraq descend into chaos."

The president noted that, while the conflict has become markedly worse in the past year, military action alone will do little to quell what is simply the latest battleground in a thousand-year conflict between the Sunni and Shia Muslim faiths.

"So the United States will do our part, but understand that ultimately it's up to the Iraqis, as a sovereign nation, to solve their problems," he said.

McKeon's full statement:

"All Americans should be gravely concerned by the turn of events in Iraq. What once had the potential to be a secular democratic foothold in a vital region has spiraled into chaos and bloodshed. In the near term, I am most concerned about the security of the thousands of dedicated Americans working in Iraq. The President must make their safety his first concern.

"In the longer term, it is clear that we need a new strategy in Iraq and across the Middle East. The President had hoped that as America stepped back from the world, other responsible actors would step forward to provide stability. That hasn't worked. It isn't going to work. Our vacillation and inaction in Syira, abandonment of Iraq, politically driven withdrawal from Afghanistan, and senseless cuts to national security resources has allowed the resurrection of a transnational terrorist threat. These extremists now have unprecedented wealth, technology, and a safe haven from which to launch attacks on the United States. They must be stopped.

"The White House has a history of 'considering all options' while choosing none. There are no quick fix solutions to this crisis and I will not support a one shot strike that looks good for the cameras but has no enduring effect. What is needed here is a new strategy for our regional engagement, adequate resourcing of our national security enterprise, and renewed American leadership. The President should also ask himself if his White House National Security team is equal to the crisis at hand. I don't believe they are."

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