As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stays in the headlines, claiming responsibility for the massacre of 23 people in the Tunisian capital and releasing an apparent "hit list," that purports to list the personal information of 100 members of the U.S. military, members of Congress from both parties suggest the Obama administration still needs to do more.
"I think the president has been consistently wrong with this," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "I believe the administration has misinterpreted the entire Arab Spring. That is the concern we have. And then, when you look what the president sends up to Congress, an AUMF, an authorization to use the military's force, he constrains the military even further to combat ISIS."
Lawmakers are currently considering the administration's request for authorization for the use of military force. The three-year authorization would not place geographical limits on the fight, but does rule out a large-scale ground combat operations like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "He has more authority today than what he's asking going forward," McCarthy said. "The problems we are having today around the world are because of this administration redirection of our foreign policy. It puts more emphasis on befriending our enemy instead of supporting our allies. And it's creating chaos around the world."
As a Republican, McCarthy's criticism of the president's strategy is not that surprising. But one Democrat, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii - herself a veteran of the Iraq War - also expressed concern about the current U.S. strategy.
"This is not something that can only be done militarily. Right alongside the military strategy, which must consist of working with our partners in the region, it must consist with working with the Sunnis and the Kurds and really going to the heart of the sectarian conflict," Gabbard said in a separate interview on "Face the Nation," explaining that the sectarian divide in Iraq allows ISIS to strengthen its foothold there. "When we look at the continuation of the failed Bush policy, now in this administration, of propping up this Shia-led government in Baghdad that's heavily influenced by Iran, this is what has caused, essentially, for ISIS to grow in Iraq."
Gabbard said she has asked military leaders and members of the administration about how they will tackle the sectarian challenges in Iraq alongside the military challenges of fighting ISIS.
"There is no clear plan in place for the Sunni people to take charge of the Sunni-dominated parts of Iraq, which is the only thing that will prevent ISIS from coming back in, even if there is a military victory," she said.
Weighing in on the request for military authorization, she said that the administration first needs to reexamine its overall strategy to ensure that either President Obama or the next president can get to the "heart of the problem." She also said there seems to be a lack of urgency to pass the ISIS military authorization, since the administration is still relying on the military authorization from the Iraq war to carry out its current airstrikes against the group.
That sends the message, she said, that "this only needs to be passed as a message or a symbol to the American people. So, I think that's where you're seeing a lack of urgency."