Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has never been shy about his criticism of President Obama, and nothing has changed. On August 8, the White House announced air strikes on Iraq. The attacks are aimed at the Islamic militant group ISIS. In early June ISIS, short for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, swept through northern Iraq intent on unifying Iraq under an Islamic theocracy. According to President Obama, the goal of the air strikes is to protect American personnel and religious minorities, particularly Kurds in Ibril.
Far from criticizing the White House for getting involved in the Iraqi conflict, John McCain is urging President Obama to do more. In an interview with The Daily Beast, McCain called the attack, which consisted of two smart bombs dropped on ISIS convoys, a pinprick and expressed concerns that “the president is threatening and then he won’t follow through.” McCain called such a response the weakest possible response. Despite the fact that the airstrikes are in line with requests already made by McCain and other Republicans.
In a joint statement with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released on August 7, Senator John McCain called for support to Kurdish, Iraqi and Syrian partners, which they requested be both military and humanitarian in nature with the goal of complete “degradation of ISIS.” The senators also requested any support provided not be contingent on the formation of a new government in Baghdad.
The calls from Senators McCain and Graham have not fallen on deaf ears. In a statement made on the South Lawn of the White House early Saturday morning, President Obama vowed not to cease military and humanitarian aid to Iraq. President Obama did make calls for the formation of a new government in Iraq, despite Senator John McCain’s request.
When asked if he had second thoughts about making the decision not to send troops to Iraq, a request Senator McCain stopped just short of making, President Obama said, “We had offered to leave additional troops,” Obama said. “And the Iraqi government, based on its political considerations, in part because Iraqis were tired of a U.S. occupation, declined to provide us those assurances. And on that basis, we left.” President Obama also called such analysis a story “peddled around here by folks who often times are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made.”
The criticism from President Obama was likely aimed at Senator McCain, who was a staunch supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
A rebuttal from Senator McCain will have to wait. Senator McCain is Vietnam, campaigning for an end to the United States ban on the sale of lethal arms to the communist country.