Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Tulsa, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and a frequent critic of President Barack Obama’s defense and foreign policy, slammed the president Friday after Obama said no U.S. combat troops would be sent to Iraq.
“We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead,” Obama said at the White House on Friday morning.
“I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge. Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future. Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.
“So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force. We can’t do it for them. And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed. ”
Inhofe said the nation deserved “better answers from President Obama.”
“Today was another example of him pushing responsibility for his foreign policy failures off on everyone but himself,” Inhofe said.
“The President needs to put forward a comprehensive strategy for Iraq and the Middle East, one that tells our military men and women that their blood, sweat, and tears over the past decade weren’t in vain.
“Instead, the Obama Administration has created a leadership vacuum eagerly filled by Iran. Specifically, the vacuum is being filled in Syria by the Russians and Iranians, and in Iraq by ISIS occupying cities and the Iranians now sending military units reportedly to defend Baghdad.
“As Iraq descends into chaos, the United States should provide the assistance the Iraqis need to effectively combat the growing terrorist threat, including logistics, training, intelligence, and foreign military sales.
“ISIS is more radical, better organized, and better funded than the Sunni insurgents were at the height of fighting in Iraq in 2007. Their ability to gain control as quickly as they have is a direct result of President Obama’s foreign policy failure and his inability to secure a Status of Forces agreement which led to the premature removal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011.”
“In February of 2009, I said ‘I am concerned that President Obama’s push for an expedited withdrawal of troops from Iraq would endanger Israel and the entire Middle East…’ We are now seeing the fruits of a short-sighted foreign policy that reacts to the politics of the hour rather than facts on the ground.”