Democrats question US stategy against terror
Posted on Sep 04 2014 | IANS
By Arun Kumar, Washington, Sep 4 : Even as President Barack Obama vowed to punish the Islamic State terror group for beheading two American journalists, he faced strong criticism from some lawmakers from his own Democratic party besides opposition Republicans for lacking a comprehensive strategy against terror.
Asserting that "We will not be intimidated," Obama Wednesday declared that terrorists who killed journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley in a space of two weeks will be brought to justice.
"Our objective is clear. That is to degrade and destroy (IS) so that it's no longer a threat, not just to Iraq but also to the region and to the United States "he said at a news conference in the Estonian capital Tallinn ahead of a NATO summit in Wales.
But several prominent Democrats, including three incumbent senators up for re-election in November, joined a chorus of opposition Republicans in criticising Obama's approach to confronting the terror group, according to influential Politico news site.
In a tough letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday evening, Senator Al Franken said he was "troubled" by statements indicating the administration lacks a comprehensive military strategy in Syria.
Senator Mark Warner echoed many Republicans' in asking the administration to clearly articulate a comprehensive strategy to take on the extremist group, while Senator Jeanne Shaheen "lit into Obama's goal" to make IS a "manageable problem," it said.
Taking a swipe at Obama, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Wednesday said it's not "a manageable situation" and the president should come up with a strategy, present it to Congress.
"This is not, in my view, a manageable situation. They want to kill us," he was quoted as saying in an interview on Fox Business Network.
The senator said he agreed with Vice President Joe Biden's speech just hours earlier declaring "We will follow them (IS) to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice."
"I think the vice president's got it right," McConnell said.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told CNN the goal of the US is to "degrade and destroy" the capabilities of IS in Iraq and Syria, "it's not contain,"
All options-with the exception of a ground invasion-are on the table to address the threat posed by IS, Hagel said.
Those options include possible airstrikes in Syria, where IS has established a stronghold in and around the northeastern city of Raqqa.
Obama has also faced criticism in the media with influential Washington Post editorially suggesting "There are big holes in Obama Mideast strategy."
"Easy answers don't exist, but Mr. Obama ought to be guided by several principles," it said. "One is that the terrorist threat can be neutralized only by combating all of the forces destroying the region.
"Perhaps most importantly, Mr. Obama should stop attempting to minimize the threats in the Middle East or the US role needed to combat them," the Post said.
"Without American leadership in forging political solutions and assaulting the Islamic State's strongholds, any strategy is doomed to fail," it said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])