Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) accused President Obama of leading the country into another Vietnam with his decision to send 450 troops to Iraq as advisers.
“This is exactly how Vietnam started,” Rangel told reporters on the Hill. “And if you don’t think you’re putting them in harm’s way, you’re not living in the real world.”
Rangel, a Korean War veteran, added in a statement that he’s “disappointed.”
“While I trust the president to make decisions that are in the best interests of our country, I maintain that military action must be taken as an absolute last resort, and only when the entire nation is fully committed to sharing the sacrifices,” he said. “It is unconscionable that currently less than one percent of America’s population is unfairly shouldering the burden of war.”
“Nearly 6,800 brave men and women in uniform paid the ultimate price for our long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I served in Korea, the entire nation shared the sacrifices through the draft and increased taxes. If war is truly necessary, we must all come together to support and defend our nation.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby, reacting to Rangel’s comments this morning on CNN, said “we need to be careful making historical analogies, particularly in war.”
“No two wars are ever alike. Each one has to be evaluated and judge on the circumstances and the unique environment,” said the former Pentagon spokesman. “This is predominantly — and it needs to be — people need to remember — this is Iraq’s war against ISIL. Yes, there’s an international coalition trying to assist and support them. We’re a member of that. We’re a leading member of that.”
Obama has been sending a few hundred troops to Iraq at a time in increments since the fall of Mosul a year ago. Kirby said “it can’t be mission creep if the mission isn’t changing.”
“This 450 extra advisers that are going in are actually contributing to deepening and furthering a mission that we’re already conducting in Iraq and four different sites, and to joint operation centers. So, it’s very much in keeping with the mission itself. And 450 is not thousands,” he said.
“I’d remind everybody that on the ground we’re going to have about 3,500 American troops in Iraq. It’s a far cry from the more than a hundred thousand we had at the height of the war, you know, about four years ago. So, I think we need to keep it in perspective. But it’s not mission creep if the mission is not changing. And the mission is not changing.”