A key House Republican criticized the Obama White House for continuing to consider its options for dealing with the unfolding crisis in Iraq, even as Baghdad was under the threat of an assault from a violent Islamic group as early as Friday.
“The White House has a history of ‘considering all options’ while choosing none,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.).
McKeon put out that statement just moments before President Barack Obama told reporters outside the White House that his staff is preparing a range of options, and that he would be “reviewing those options in the days ahead.”
Obama said ground troops are not being considered, and also said the U.S. would only consider military action if Iraqi officials can come up with a plan for uniting the country.
“In the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed,” he said. Obama added that Iraq’s leaders need to find a plan to “bring the country together.”
And while Obama indicated some military action is possible, he said not to expect any actions overnight, even though the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is reportedly less than an hour drive from Baghdad.
In his statement issued before Obama’s remarks, McKeon was far more critical of the Obama administration than he was of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. McKeon said the U.S. itself needs a strategy for coping with the turmoil in the Middle East, and like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did on Thursday, McKeon said Obama needs to get rid of his entire national security team.
“What is needed here is a new strategy for our regional engagement, adequate resourcing of our national security enterprise, and renewed American leadership,” he said. “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.”
McKeon said the past few years have shown that Obama’s hope that responsible actors other than the U.S. would step in and stabilize unstable parts of the world has proven to be unfounded.
“That hasn’t worked,” he said. “It isn’t going to work. Our vacillation and inaction in Syria, abandonment of Iraq, politically driven withdrawal from Afghanistan, and senseless cuts to national security resources has allowed the resurrection of a transnational terrorist threat.”