Many Americans, including our Representatives in Congress, are conflicted over American policy toward Iraq. No wonder–the question is complicated and confusing. To understand the problem, you need a crib sheet. From an American perspective, here’s mine.
|Good guys||Bad guys|
The difficulty is that when we apply the rule: “my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” many of the bad guys are our friends. What to do then? Our friends aren’t doing well; how should we help them?
Here are some comments from American politicians as reported in a WSJ article by Janet Hook, Siobhan Hughes, et. al.:
“I oppose open-ended military commitments, which the president’s actions in Iraq could become,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.).
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), a leading voice in the party’s liberal wing, said in a statement: “I remain concerned about possible unintended consequences of intervention. We must not get bogged down in another war in the Middle East.”
Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) said he believed that Congress should vote on whether to authorize the military operation in Iraq. While the Islamist State “is a horrible group,” he said, “we have to realize that we are heading down the path of choosing sides in an ancient religious and sectarian war.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), a potential 2016 presidential aspirant who is using hawkish foreign-policy stances to distinguish himself on the national political stage, was one of the first to comment on the president’s action Thursday night. … “If we do not continue to take decisive action against ISIS now, it will be not just Iraqis or Syrians who continue to suffer,” Mr. Rubio said. “It will likely be Americans, as a result of a terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland or on our personnel overseas.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), the leading voice of the GOP’s anti-interventionist wing and a potential presidential candidate, had no public comment Friday. In a June interview in Iowa, he indicated he might support airstrikes against Islamist militants in Iraq.
Vin Weber, a former Republican House member who was a foreign-policy adviser to GOP nominee Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign, said that the situation wasn’t an easy issue for Republicans, because so many Americans—including many GOP voters—are in an anti-interventionist mood.
Tom Reed, who took a very active role encouraging voters to register opposition when President Obama proposed to act militarily in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, is quoted in the FL Times:
“While I support the humanitarian efforts to get desperately needed food and water to [religious] minorities and believe there may be an appropriate use of targeted air strikes, Americans are still lacking a clear directive from the president on what America’s long-term goals and strategies are in Iraq,” Reed said after decrying the brutality of the Islamic State’s troops. “The men and women serving in our military and all Americans deserve to hear from the commander in chief on what is America’s specific end goal in Iraq.”
Here Reed takes a poke at the President while keeping his own views vague. Perhaps Tom is waiting to learn the Republican Party line before expressing his views clearly.
© William Hungerford – August 2014