At this point, President Barack Obama is a man without a plan when it comes to addressing violence perpetuated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That’s not good enough for some lawmakers.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggested that the president is perhaps “too cautious” with regards to establishing a strategy to curb the violence in Iraq and Syria.
“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious. Maybe in this instance, too cautious,” Feinstein said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. She added that the military and the State Department “have been putting plans together. And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy that can encourage that coalition from Arab nations.”
Critics pounced on Obama after Thursday’s press briefing in which he bluntly admitted, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”
The White House soon leaped into damage control mode, seeking to clarify the president’s remarks. “The president hasn’t yet laid out a specific plan for military action in Syria,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Friday. “And the reason for that is simply that the Pentagon is still developing that plan and he is still reviewing it.”
Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned ISIS could be a “potentially very serious” threat to more Americans. “I believe it is on its way to Baghdad, and I believe that they will try to attack our embassy from the west,” she said. “This is a vicious, vicious movement, and it has to be confronted.”
In recent weeks, Obama and others leaders have been raising the alarm about ISIS — and the terrorist group’s global ambitions — following the beheading of captured American journalist James Foley and the slaughter of approximately thousands of innocent civilians in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
“Mr. Obama has begun to take military actions against ISIS in Iraq, but they have been tactical and reactive half-measures,” the op-ed reads. “Continuing to confront ISIS in Iraq, but not in Syria, would be fighting with one hand tied behind our back. We need a military plan to defeat ISIS, wherever it is.”
Democratic calls for a definitive plan join unsurprising criticism leveled at Obama from Republican lawmakers.
“The president wants to tell you what he won’t do. He’s having a hard time putting a coalition together to talk about what they will do,”the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “You’re not gonna humanitarian aid ISIS out of Iraq and Syria. It’s gonna take more than that.”
The Pentagon confirmed the U.S. carried out five more airstrikes Saturday near the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq and dropped humanitarian aid.
This week, Obama plans to visit Wales in order to meet with NATO allies on how to best deal with ISIS and other potential threats to international security.