The PJ Tatler

Armed Services Chairman to Obama: Come to Congress with a Strategy Against ISIS, and We'll Talk

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Congress can’t even begin to speculate what it can do to aid the fight against ISIS until President Obama comes up with a strategy to “destroy” the Islamic State.

“ISIS is a clear and present threat to our allies across the Middle East and to the United States. There is no negotiating with ISIS or deterring it. It must be defeated and destroyed,” chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement today. “Doing so demands a comprehensive strategy combining diplomatic, political, and military efforts, and the contributions from a broad coalition of countries. Such a strategy will require time, commitment, and leadership that America is uniquely suited to provide.”

“This comprehensive approach may well require additional authorities from Congress, but speculation about that before the president has even offered a strategy is putting the cart before the horse,” he continued. “We need the president to explain to the American people what is at stake, what our objectives are, and the strategy for how to achieve them. Only after we understand all this can we contemplate what new authorities might be needed.”

McKeon, who is retiring at the end of this term, challenged Obama “to engage Congress.”

“I’m willing to work with him, and I would offer a few factors for him to keep in mind,” the chairman continued. “First, ISIS is an urgent threat and a minimalist approach, that depends solely on FY15 funding or pinprick strikes that leave fragile forces in Iraq and Syria to do the hard fighting, is insufficient to protect our interests and guarantee our safety in time.”

“Second, good strategies keep options on the table and keep an adversary guessing, instead of telegraphing what we won’t do. No leader ever won a conflict by first declaring what steps he was unwilling to take – or, for that matter, leaking details about steps he actually is taking.”

Third, McKeon stressed, “the ISIS threat was allowed to build and fester over a period of time.”

“They are not likely to be decisively defeated quickly, but will have to be faced by this president and his successors,” he said. “Therefore, strategy and decisions made by the president now should preserve future options, not foreclose them. Finally, this enemy must be defeated, but if we are not going to adequately resource our effort, we will only make a very complex security situation worse.”