Hagel: Weigh the Consequences of IS Operation

U.S. Defense Secretary says he will advise President Obama to consider how any operation against IS might end.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

As the U.S. considers how to expand operations against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Iraq, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday that President Barack Obama needs to weigh all the consequences of what could be a lengthy campaign, and what could go wrong, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Speaking to reporters in Turkey, Hagel said the advice he gives the president has to include not just the start of any operation, but how it will end.

“Once you start an airstrike, or once you start any military action, it doesn’t end there. It ends up somewhere down the road,” said Hagel. “That’s not an excuse for inaction, because, as we know, there are consequences to inaction as well.”

Hagel has been meeting with allies over the past several days, including at the NATO summit in Wales late last week and in visits to Turkey and Georgia, as part of a broad effort to pull together a coalition to fight Islamic State terrorists who have seized parts of Syria and a large swath of western and northern Iraq in months of brutal fighting.

As another part of the effort, Hagel has been talking to members of Congress by phone during this trip about Obama’s remarks scheduled for Wednesday, according to AP.

He said that in those conversations there has been broad agreement that the Islamic State militants must be destroyed. The president is expected to outline U.S. plans to expand the campaign against the insurgent group.

According to Hagel, some lawmakers don’t believe Obama needs any more legal authorization from Congress to broaden the fight, but other members aren’t so sure.

That legal question, he said, is still open and government lawyers are looking into it.

While Hagel said he did not want to get ahead of the president’s announcement, he added, “One of the things I know he intends to do is clearly define the challenge, the threat, what he intends to do about this … I’m sure he will mention the Congress in that speech. He wants the Congress as a partner.”

Obama has already authorized the use of airstrikes to prevent the group’s advance in Iraq and to protect American personnel and interests inside the country.

The American President also recently announced that Secretary of State John Kerry would travel to the Middle East to build a coalition to combat IS.

The Arab League said Sunday that it would back military action led by the U.S. and Europe against IS.