Obama again says he won't commit troops to fighting ground war in Iraq.
Pope Francis voiced doubt about the wisdom of bombing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Capitol Hill lawmakers have too, although most are expected to approve a funding bill that would arm and equip Syrian rebels and Iraqi security forces. The Washington Post reports that members in both parties have expressed misgivings about President Obama’s military plans:
Members of Obama’s party are concerned that without clearly defined parameters passed by Congress in the coming months, new U.S. military operations in the Middle East could fester for several years with no clear strategy or definition of success.
Republicans have worried that the plans presented by Obama so far are too limited. One top GOP leader suggested Congress could go as far as giving the president blanket military authority, even if Obama doesn’t want it, when Congress holds a much broader debate after the November elections about the fight against Islamic terrorists.
Politico reports that Obama himself has buttonholed lawmakers to support his plan:
Obama personally called House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation. McCarthy told the president he needed to spend time whipping Democrats to support the Syria measure, which will be offered as an amendment to a must-pass government funding bill.
House Democrats, meanwhile, think they have anywhere from 120 to 160 votes in favor of Obama’s plan, although the number is “soft” and lots of Democrats are wary of the plan, according to several sources.
Despite the doubts, lawmakers are expected to approve funding for the military operation today and tomorrow.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, President Obama insisted that no combat troops would be used to fight Islamic State soldiers. As
The Washington Examiner reported,
U.S. forces “do not and will not have a combat mission,” he told troops gathered to hear him speak, explaining that the U.S. military will support Iraqi forces on the ground as Iraqis and possibly others fight the Islamic State.
“After a decade of massive ground deployments, it is more effective to use our unique capabilities in support of partners on the ground so they can secure their own countries’ futures,” he said. “And that’s the only solution that will succeed over the long term.”
Mark Stricherz is based in Washington. He is author of Why the Democrats are Blue.