One of the most liberal and outspoken members of Congress has voiced sharp opposition to President Barack Obama's decision to strike Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
In this Sept. 5, 2013 file photo, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., arrives to join lawmakers and national security officials at the Capitol for a closed-door briefing on the situation in Syria. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
“Mr. President, when it's our money, and it's our blood, then it's our decision,” Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) wrote in a USA Today op-ed. “And now, the American people are saying 'No!'"
Grayson, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, began his op-ed asking: “Who is right on military intervention in Iraq: President Obama, or the American people? I say that it's the people.”
He cited a Pew Research Center poll that found that 55 percent of Americans said no to the question, “Do you think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the violence in Iraq?”
Grayson provided a measurement of the American blood and treasure lost in Iraq, stating 4,425 Americans were killed; 250,000 returned home with permanent brain injuries, and that the United States spent $2 trillion.
“Now Iraqi leaders want our help again. But the U.S. military is not a yo-yo,” Grayson wrote.
The problem, according to Grayson, is not as much the threat from the Islamic State but that the Iraqi military is not willing to defend its own country.
“Iraqi soldiers outnumber the Islamic State by more than 100 to 1, but they won't fight,” Grayson wrote. “In one town, a band of ISIS fighters announced their approach with a devastatingly effective weapon: a bullhorn. Iraqi soldiers fled. If the Iraqis won't defend themselves, then why should we? And when will we start solving our own problems?”
Obama announced last week that he would be using limited airstrikes to combat the growing militant threat against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq such as Christians and Yazidis that fighters have been killing or pushing out of the country. Obama had previously sent military advisers to the country.
Grayson's criticism comes as some Republicans say Obama's limited airstrikes are not enough, and that the Islamic State poses a direct threat to the United States. In videos, fighters talked about how “we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.” Another leader said upon his release from captivity, “see you in New York.”
Grayson's op-ed was published as a counterpoint to the newspaper's editorial that called for action to stop the Islamic State.
"The threat posed by ISIS is neither abstract nor confined to Iraq, as the doves seem to pretend,” the editorial said. “ISIS' desire to strike the United States is unequivocal, and left unmolested it will eventually acquire the means. To some eyes, it is already a greater threat than Al Qaeda, and Obama should treat it in the same uncompromising way.”
Nevertheless, Grayson does not see a threat.
“No national security interest is threatened, we don't have a clear strategy, we're not using overwhelming force, and we have no way out,” the congressman wrote. “We have to get past this bizarre notion that every time there's something in the world we don't like, we bomb it.”
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