Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had harsh words for the Obama administration’s plan to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, after a hearing in which Obama’s military strategists said there is no military solution to the terrorist group.
“The Obama administration’s plan to combat ISIS is defined by its confusion,” Cruz said after a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, referring to one of the acronyms used for the Islamic State.
“We have been told the mission is to destroy ISIS, but the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today testified they plan to conduct an extended campaign of nation-building that will address underlying ‘grievances’ that have destabilized the region,” Cruz said. “We should have a mission to achieve what is immediately essential: striking ISIS to protect Americans. The lack of focus and determination to achieve that goal is extremely concerning.”
During the hearing, Cruz asked Secretary of State Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey what would need to be done to destroy the Islamic State in 90 days. But Dempsey said that would require more than just a military plan.
“Truly there is no military solution to ISIS,” he said. “It’s got to be part of a broader, whole of government, regional campaign.”
Cruz said he disagrees, and noted that Dempsey said the U.S. could destroy their equipment and drive them underground. “Sen. Cruz believes that is a plan that should be vigorously pursued,” Cruz’s office said.
The debate took place even as the House debated legislation that would authorize the Obama administration to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels. That debate indicated many Democrats will oppose the resolution because they worry about heading back into war, while many Republicans will oppose it because Obama’s plan doesn’t go far enough to defeat the Islamic State.
While it’s unclear whether the House language can pass, GOP leaders are expected to call it up as early as Wednesday.
Members are considering language that would require the administration to provide progress reports every three months on U.S. efforts in Syria. The language doesn’t authorize increased airstrikes by the U.S. military, even though Cruz and many other Republicans say Congress should explicitly authorize that step.