Republican foreign policy heavyweights are ratcheting up the ISIS threat level even further. On this week’s Sunday news shows, prominent GOP lawmakers described the terror organization as an imminent threat to the United States.
“We should, in my view, look at ISIL as a direct threat to the United States, a direct threat to the region that cannot be accommodated,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CNN’s “State of the Union”. “We are now directly threatened by ISIL.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., went a step further. During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” he warned that ISIS is now “one plane ticket away from U.S. shores.”
Members of both parties have been sounding the alarm against ISIS for weeks. Just last week, Rogers himself suggested that the United States is currently in greater peril than it was before 9/11, in part due to the group. Yet the warnings seemed to rise a few decibels this week after ISIS released a video showing that one of its members had beheaded the American photojournalist James Foley.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the head of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Foley’s execution was “a turning point.”
“The American people, it has sort of opened their eyes to what ISIS really is: The true character of ISIS, how savage they really are, and their intent to harm Americans,” he said on ABC’s “This Week”.
Shortly after the administration confirmed the authenticity of the footage, President Obama delivered a press conference in which he denounced “hateful terrorism” and promised “to do what we must to protect our people.” Two weeks prior, he had directed the U.S. military to perform air strikes in Iraq, in an attempt to prevent ISIS from massacring the local religious minority known as the Yazidi.
Multiple Republican leaders, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., urged President Obama to quell ISIS by escalating air strikes in Syria. McCain appeared on Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday” to recommend military escalation and lambaste the administration’s foreign policy.
“This is an administration, which the kindest word I can use is ‘feckless,’ where they have not outlined a roles that the United States has to play,” he said. “And that is a leadership role.”
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., agreed, saying he doesn’t think President Obama “has given us the kind of strategy we need.”
“What I want to hear from our commander in chief is that he has a strategy to finish ISIS off, to defeat ISIS,” Ryan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation”. “Let’s not forget that there are reportedly thousands of terrorists with foreign passports.”
Two weeks ago, rumored 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton – who previously served as President Obama’s secretary of state – appeared to offer a far milder form of the same critique. In an interview with the Atlantic Monthly’s Jeffrey Goldberg, she suggested that the rise of ISIS was partially a result of the United States’ failure to provide adequate support for Syrian rebels.