PHILADELPHIA — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he would advise a President Donald Trump to do “everything” necessary to defeat ISIS, including using ground troops, and stressed that the use of timetables in a war is “absurd.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said President Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who is a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees, are all “divorced from the reality” of the war on terrorism. Clinton has expressed opinions for and against troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS.
Trump has made defeating ISIS a centerpiece of his campaign but has not offered a specific plan on how he would achieve that goal. PJM asked Giuliani if he would support ground troops in certain countries to defeat ISIS.
“I think it’s appropriate as a candidate he announce his goals particularly where it relates to military affairs, not his specific actions. After all, he doesn’t have the benefit of the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He doesn’t have a secretary of Defense yet. He can’t make his own independent assessment,” he said during an “RNC at the DNC” event in Philadelphia.
Giuliani, who has been advising Trump on national security matters, said he personally has been in favor of putting troops on the ground in Iraq as well as at the Syrian border.
“I was in favor of, as was John McCain and Sen. Ayotte and Sen. Graham, of setting up a no-fly zone in Syria so the Syrian refugees that are now pouring over the border of Germany — apparently committing a lot of crimes, and the Syrian refugees Hillary wants to bring into the United States who [FBI Director] James Comey says can’t be vetted – they could be in that no-fly zone right now,” said Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“They could be in a place protected by multi-national troops and by our Air Force, so yes, I am in favor of using American troops to destroy ISIS. I am not a ‘no boots on the ground’ person like the president of the United States. In fact, I find it offensive when he is constantly saying ‘no boots on the ground, no boots on the ground, no boots on the ground,’ he’s immediately telling our enemy we don’t have the will to get into the ring and fight with them,” he added.
The administration announced last month that they’re increasing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by 560, bringing the number to nearly 5,000 as Iraqi forces plan an attack to retake Mosul from ISIS.
Giuliani recommended that Trump seek the advice of retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane and Gen. David Petraeus, adding that he believes Obama’s decision to retreat from Iraq gave rise to ISIS.
“If Donald Trump asked my advice, my advice would be go talk to General Keane, go talk to General Petraeus, figure out how they won the victory in the eastern part of Iraq, that’s where we have to win this victory. They know it better than anyone else. It’s when we pulled out and we left the Sunnis unprotected that some of them went and hid and the others joined ISIS. That’s how Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama built ISIS into what it is today. Had we kept our troops there, they would have had protection,” he said.
“They wouldn’t have had to go to ISIS. If we had kept our troops there we would have found out at the beginning of ISIS growing from day one; when you have 100,000 troops or 50,000 troops you get a lot of information. If we had kept our troops there, President Obama never would have made the absolutely ridiculous statement that made him sound foolish to the entire world that they are the JV. So, I think my advice to a President Trump will be that we should do everything we have to do to destroy ISIS. We should be at war with them. We should not have the French president stronger than us saying they are at war with us, so we are at war with them,” he added.
Giuliani said the U.S. should end the war against ISIS when it has “unconditional victory” instead of following “one of these Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton timetables.”
“Timetables for wars are absurd. If we had a timetable for the Civil War, we would have quit in 1863,” he said.
Zeldin said Obama was wrong to suggest that the U.S. troops present in Iraq and Syria are not there on a combat mission.
“Here we are, it’s July 2016, and right now in Iraq and Syria we have troops on the ground. They’re carrying a rifle, they are wearing boots, those boots are on the ground, they are doing combat missions. What is being said out of the White House is to serve domestic politics. It’s a legacy item to tell the American public that there will be no troops on the ground. He said as he was placing special operations troops in Syria, sending a message to them, their families, their friends back home, bringing them to the biggest hot spot on the globe, said they are not there on a combat mission,” Zeldin said.
“There is no way for them to physically be standing where they are and not give them the rules of engagement to allow them to protect themselves but when the Democratic Party or when this administration that’s in power right now or Hillary Clinton talk about what’s next, when they say no troops on the ground, it’s divorced from the reality that is present-day America where right now we have men and women overseas risking their lives to defend our freedoms and liberties. And how dare the president of the United States, the commander in chief, send our men and women into harm’s way and then tell the American public ‘no troops on the ground’ while they are there fighting for us,” he added.