Boehner Criticizes Obama Over ISIS

Boehner calls on Obama to re-engage troops in Iraq in a combat-like role to fight ISIS.

Ben Ariel,

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner
Reuters

House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday issued a broad critique of the Obama administration's Middle East strategy.

According to USA Today, Boehner said President Barack Obama should re-engage U.S. troops in Iraq in a combat-like role to fight the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS).

"I think the president is placing artificial constraints on our commanders," Boehner was quoted as having told reporters at a roundtable to discuss his recent trip to the Middle East. "We've got 4,500 troops in Iraq. They're only there to train and advise the Iraqi army."

"We're not talking about 100,000 troops on the ground; nobody needs to throw that canard out there," he added. "But we have troops there that could provide a lot more assistance to the Iraqi army if they were given the ability to do so."

Boehner stopped short of calling them combat troops, although he made clear that he believes U.S. forces should be given more latitude to help Iraqi military forces.

"I wouldn't call it a combat role. I would call it more of a plan-and-direct. Rather than just training, more engaged in helping the Iraqis fight the fight," he said, according to USA Today.

Boehner said he would support additional U.S.-Iraq financial assistance. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in Washington this week publicly pressing for billions of dollars in foreign aid to boost his nation's military, among other things.

"They need equipment," Boehner said. "We didn't leave anything good behind."

Boehner said the Authorization for Use of Military Force the president sent to Capitol Hill earlier this year is going nowhere. Obama's request would repeal the resolution used to authorize the war in Iraq and put limits on ground troops.

"Until the president gets serious about fighting the fight, until he has a strategy that makes sense, there's no reason for us to give him less authority than he has today, which is what he's asking," he was quoted as having said.

Boehner dismissed Obama's avoidance of the term "Islamic extremists" as part of the administration's effort to send a message to Muslim allies that the United States is not at war with Islam, but rather extremists. "If he thinks that's having some impact, good for him."

Republicans have long been critical of Obama’s foreign policy in general, and of his actions in the Middle East in particular.

One of the most vocal critics has been Senator John McCain, who has in the past said,  "I thought Jimmy Carter was bad, but he pales in comparison to this president in my view."

He also attacked Kerry's efforts to force through a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority on Israel, calling him a "human wrecking ball" last November.


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