Senate defense leaders slammed President Obama on Monday after he called for patience in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) suggested the administration’s strategy to defeat the terrorist group is mired in "self-delusion."
"President Obama’s comments today reveal the disturbing degree of self-delusion that characterizes the Administration’s campaign," McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. "None of the so-called progress that the President cited suggests that we are on a path to success, and when you are not winning in warfare, you are losing."
His remarks come after Obama was briefed by top defense officials, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. Obama spoke at the Pentagon, providing an update on the U.S. and global campaign to defeat the terrorist organization.
But McCain suggested that the administration’s current efforts won’t be enough to defeat the terrorist organization, and pressed for military leaders to be "candid" with Obama.
“ISIL is not ten feet tall. It can be, and must be, defeated. But that will never happen if we continue to delude ourselves about our current campaign. I hope the President’s military commanders were more candid and critical in their assessments of our campaign with the President than his comments to the American people today would indicate," he said.
Obama announced last month that he would send more U.S. military personnel to help train and advise local fighters in attempting to retake Ramadi, which fell to the terrorist group in May. That would bring the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq to 3,550.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also criticized the president on Monday, suggesting that it was time for Obama to make "hard decisions" in the ISIS fight
“Just weeks after President Obama admitted we lacked a complete strategy to combat ISIS, he’s now touting his efforts against the group. But his rhetoric doesn’t match reality," he said.
"It was President Obama’s delusion about ISIS that brought us to this point in the first place. ... It’s time for the President to acknowledge reality and make the hard decisions required to defeat ISIS once and for all."
Their remarks follow criticism from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who told John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on New York’s AM 970 on Sunday that Obama "doesn’t’ know what he’s doing" in the Middle East.
Graham, who is running for president, suggested that Obama’s foreign policy has aided terrorist groups, including ISIS, in going unchecked.
Across the Capitol, Rep. Mac Thornberry, McCain’s couterpart in the House, said ahead of Obama’s remarks that the president should realize that "his strategy to defeat ISIL isn’t working."
"I hope that the President will acknowledge these realities, end the veto threats on bills that would enhance his ability to take the fight to ISIL, and rethink his own inadequate strategy," he added.
Cory Fritz, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), added that "at no point in his remarks did President Obama indicate he’s doing anything to change course and actually build the broad, overarching plan that’s needed to take on these savage terrorists and win."
The Hill, 6 July 2015