Is there any conflict where Rep. Peter King has not pushed for the United States to escalate since he's been in Congress? He was back at it on this week's Fox News Sunday, pushing for U.S. combat troops to be brought back into Iraq and used to defeat ISIS in Syria. As his fellow Rep. Adam Schiff pointed out, occupying these countries hasn't worked out so well for us so far.
The United States will have to send in ground troops to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Sunday.
“I don’t see how ultimately we can avoid putting combat troops on the ground in some capacity,” King said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t why the president says up front we will not put boots on the ground. Why take that off the table? Never let the enemy know what we’re not going to do.” [...]
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who serves on the Intelligence Committee with King, said the president was right to stand up to his military advisers. He’s rolled out legislation last week that would force Congress to vote on whether to authorize Obama to use military force in the fight against ISIS; it would also sunset the military authorization passed by lawmakers immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I want a president who is not going to accept everything the military says uncritically,” Schiff said on the same program. “We have tried massive occupations in Iraq earlier and in Afghanistan, we’re in Afghanistan now 13 years later. We still haven’t solved the problem in Afghanistan. Do we really want to be in a position where 13 years from now we are massively occupying Syria and Iraq? I don’t think that’s what we want.”
Full transcript via Fox:
WALLACE: Secretary of State Kerry was at the U.N. this week trying to round up international support, and he made this surprising statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman King, a couple of questions. First of all, are you as surprised as I am that Secretary Kerry would be inviting Iran into the international coalition?
And, generally speaking, how do you feel? Are we getting enough support, especially military support, active military action by our international allies?
KING: No, Chris, so far we're not. And where I disagree with the president on this -- to me, attacking ISIS, attacking ISIS in Syria is in our national interest. Now if we can get allies, if we can get a coalition together, that's fine, and we should work on it.
But we can't be beholden to a coalition because we're not doing this out of humanitarian purposes and quite frankly we're not doing it for the people of Syria or Iraq. Ultimately we're doing it because it's in our national interest to do so.
And if that's the case, we can't be holding back. We should attack and strike and do all we can to the command and control centers that ISIS has in Syria. That is a key component of ISIS located in Syria so we shouldn't be waiting for other countries.
WALLACE: And what about Iran?
KING: I think it's a terrible mistake. First of all the fact that there's Shiites, and there's so much involved, Sunnis.
Also, Iran is powerful enough. I mean, they are ultimately they are the main threat in that part of the world, and to be doing anything at all to build them up, to give them sanctuary, to in effect have them on our side, what does that do to Israel? What does that do to their nuclear development in plan? I think it weakens our position.
I cannot understand why we want to get Iran involved.
WALLACE: We're continuing to see this remarkable split between the president, who has doubled down this week, and said absolutely no U.S. boots on the ground in a combat role and his top military advisers, current and former civilian and military, all saying that we can't rule that out. That's a real possibility.
Congressman King, your best judgment, will U.S. forces at some point have to get involved in some kind of a combat role if only to call in air strikes, and to help Iraqi and Peshmerga forces on the front line?
KING: Well, Chris, we already have American troops on the ground. We have Special Forces there. They are obviously, you know, they're in harm's way. And I don't see how ultimately we can avoid putting combat troops on the ground in some capacity.
But more than that, I don't know why the president says up front that we're not going to put boots on the ground. Don't take anything off the table. Never let the enemy know what you're going to do or not going to do.
We had General Madison (ph) before the intelligence committee on Friday and he was saying there's two parts to this. One, you should never let the enemy know what you're going to do. But secondly if we are going to expect coalition troops on our side from the region, if the president takes one step forward and one step sideways saying he's not going to use combat troops that to them shows a lack of seriousness of purpose, and that's why it's going to be hard to get the Saudis or Jordanians or UAE involved because they're afraid that the president is not going to stick this out. Why should they be?
WALLACE: Let me bring Congressman Schiff into this.
You oppose the use of ground forces in a combat role in Iraq. But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, the Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno say that they may be need. And so, in fact, does Robert Gates the first Obama secretary of defense. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: There will be boots on the ground if there's to be any hope of success in the strategy. I think by continuing to repeat that the president in effect traps himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman, are Gates and Odierno and Dempsey, are they all wrong?
SCHIFF: No, I don't think they're all wrong. But I don't think they're at odds with the president. What Dempsey has said is if circumstances down the road pose a threat to the United States, he'll make a different recommendation. That is what he should do. His role is different than the president's.
But I think the president --
WALLACE: But the president isn't saying, well, if circumstances change, he's saying no. No U.S. combat forces.
SCHIFF: Yes, that's what he's saying. But Dempsey is also saying that he subscribes to the strategy of utilizing Iraqi and Peshmerga forces on the ground, not Americans in the combat mission. I think that's the right call.
What the general is saying I'm in agreement with that strategy. If that strategy doesn't work or at some point there's a threat to the United States, I'm going to make a different recommendation to the president. And that's exactly what we should want --
WALLACE: And you think the president will be open then to a different strategy?
SCHIFF: I think the president will be open.
But, Chris, I want a president who is not going to accept everything that the military says uncritically.
Look, we have tried massive occupations in Iraq earlier, and in Afghanistan. We're in Afghanistan now 13 years later, we still haven't solved the problem in Afghanistan. Do we really want to be in a position where 13 years from now, we are massively occupying Syria and Iraq? I don't think that's what we want.
And one other point, Chris, that is, the president's role is obviously different than the military command's role. If the military command's job to tell the president what they want, it's the president's job to decide what they need, and the president has to bring our country along. That's a tough job.