Bustos: Congress has role in Iraq decisions

Originally Posted Online: Aug. 08, 2014, 7:12 pm
Last Updated: Aug. 08, 2014, 7:14 pm
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

President Obama's decision to launch airstrikes in Iraq has been greeted with support by some area lawmakers, skepticism from others, andwith calls that Congress be consulted before any further action is taken.

"While the targeted and limited strikes taken by our military today are appropriate, I believe firmly that Congress needs to play a role in determining any further action by the United States, for humanitarian reasons or otherwise," said Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline.

The U.S. began bombing Sunni Islamic militants on Friday in an attempt to halt their advance into the Kurdish region in northern Iraq and to protect civilian Iraqis from minority groups threatened by the militants.

After the huge investment of blood and treasure in the Iraq war launched by President George W. Bush in 2003, Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, said he is not sure a new U.S. intervention will improve the situation.

"Dave remains unconvinced that military involvement by the United States will change things in Iraq at this time and is steadfastly opposed to putting boots on the ground," said Rep. Loebsack's spokesman Joe Hill.

Rep. Loebsack wants the embattled Iraqi government led by Nouri al-Maliki and his U.S. trained army to step up to combat the threat from the Islamic State militant group know as ISIS.

"He believes that it's up to the Maliki government and the Iraqi people to fix this problem for themselves," Mr. Hill said.

Mr. Maliki is supported by the U.S. but has been accused of excluding Sunni Iraqis from his government, which has deepened the sectarian strife being exploited by ISIS.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Il., who was among the minority in Congress who opposed the invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces launched in 2003, shares Rep. Loebsack's skepticism about the ability of the U.S. to influence events in Iraq.

"While this is strictly an air mission, I still have concerns," Sen. Durbin said. "It is very apparent that Iraq is sadly descending into chaos and that the Iraqi people must step up to govern their own country in an inclusive manner and protect and fight for their own country. Ultimately, no number of American troops can solve these underlying problems."

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Il., a supporter of the Iraq war in 2003, said he supported President Obama's decision to bomb militants but blamed the White House for allowing the situation in Iraq to deteriorate.

ISIS controls large parts of Iraq where Sunnis make up the majority of the population and the organization, which was born in the rebellion in Syria against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, is attempting to create an Islamic state or caliphate stretching across both countries.

"I support the President's limited action today to deter ISIS and prevent genocide, and I urge him to do now what he should have done long ago: work with Congress and our regional allies to craft a clear and comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS's terrorist armies in the Middle East," a statement from Sen. Kirk said.

Republican Bobby Schilling of Colona, who is running against Rep. Bustos in the 17th Congressional District, also supports the airstrikes launched by President Obama but also called for a plan to overcome ISIS.

"President Obama has projected profound weakness at a time when resolute strength was required in a dangerous part of the world that only respects strength," Mr. Schilling said.

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