Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Wednesday that he does not support “in any way” the idea of sending U.S. combat troops to Iraq, just hours before he was to be briefed by President Barack Obama on how the U.S. might help Iraq protect itself from a violent Islamic uprising.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Reid said Iraq is in the midst of a civil war, and said the Iraqis themselves need to handle it on their own.
“This is an Iraqi civil war, and it’s time for the Iraqis to resolve it themselves,” he said.
“I do not support in any way putting our men and women in the midst of this civil war in Iraq. It is not in the national security interest of our country,” he said. “It’s not worth the blood of American soldiers, it’s not worth the monetary cost to the American taxpayer.”
Reid also criticized Republicans for blaming Obama for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Many GOP members have said Obama withdrew too quickly from Iraq, which allowed ISIS to take hold and threaten Baghdad.
But Reid said Iraq wanted the U.S. out of the country, and said the GOP is offering the unrealistic proposal that the U.S. should have stayed in Iraq for several more years.
“Those who attack President Obama for bringing our troops home from Iraq are wrong and out of step with the American people,” he said. “After a decade of war, American people have had enough. American families have had enough.”
Reid also said the country should not be listening to the advice of former Bush administration officials on what to do in Iraq. He said former deputy secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and former Vice President Dick Cheney would steer the country wrong.
“If there’s one thing that this country does not need is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars,” he said. “Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is to be on the right side of history.”
Reid’s comments mirror those made by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said last week of Iraq that, “I don’t think this is out responsibility.”
The Obama administration this week sent 275 troops to help secure the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and evacuated many officials from the embassy. Officials have said air strikes are being considered, but no large scale insertion of the military into Iraq.