U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that President Obama’s authorized limited airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq is not a sound strategy against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Graham said U.S. intelligence has indicated that ISIS is a potential threat to the homeland and the president has a constitutional obligation to protect the American people.
“If he does not go on the offensive against ISIS, they are coming here,” Graham said. “This is just not about Baghdad, this is just not about Syria, and it is about our homeland. If we get attacked because he has no strategy to protect us, then he will have committed a blunder for the ages.”
In announcing the airstrikes Thursday, President Obama insisted that the military operations do not amount to a full-scale reengagement in Iraq. Obama said the limited strikes are meant to curtail the relentless advance of ISIS towards American diplomats, military advisers and other citizens who are stationed or living in the Kurdish-held city of Erbil.
Graham said the president should not worry about breaking his promise of ending military involvement in Iraq. The senator said the president must go on the offensive if reengaging would protect the American people.
“To change that threat, we must have a sustained air campaign in Syria and Iraq,” he said. “We must go on offense. There is no force within the Middle East that can contain, neutralize or destroy ISIS without at least American air power.”
ISIS is a hardline Islamic jihadist organization consisting of thousands of fighters whose overall goal is creating a “caliphate” that covers Syria and most of Iraq and the Levant (Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey). The group is considered the strongest fighting against Bashar al-Asad in Syria, but has recently made rapid gains in western and northern Iraq. President Obama’s order for limited airstrikes came as the group broke through Kurdish lines last week and began approaching the city of Erbil, where American diplomats and citizens are based.