KSDebate – Foreign Policy: Afghanistan, Iraq and ISIS

Tim Carpenter, The Topeka Capital-Journal: First, were the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq justified – yes or no?  And second, outline your preferred response to the new ISIS threat.

Greg Orman (I): In terms of Afghanistan, yes, I think we needed to do something there to root out the Muslim extremists and make sure they did not have a safe haven and a base to attack us again.

In terms of the invasion in Iraq, time is suggesting that we might not have been as thoughtful as we should have been when we went in there.

And I think part of the challenge we have right now is that we’ve spent thousands — we lost thousands of lives, tens of thousands of people critically injured, we’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars and I think will spend hundreds of billions of dollars more if we honor
our commitment to our veterans all in an effort to prevent Muslim extremists from having a stronghold in the Middle East. And the vacuum in Iraq and the stronghold in Syria is allowing them that.

I do think we need to be aggressive in terms of rooting out ISIS. I think we need to follow the air campaign we’re doing, we need to protect our diplomatic assets on the ground and we need to train the Iraqi’s on the ground to solve that problem.

Pat Roberts (R): Afghanistan, yes. But I worry about Afghanistan because if the President repeats what he did with Iraq and not leaving a status support agreement, we will be in the same kind of situation. The real mistake with Iraq has been not having a status support system agreement with Iraq. When we left, it left a vacuum. And Maliki was not exactly the best with regards to leading that country.

But now we have ISIS trying to establish — this goes to a larger problem. This president has tried to lead by following with regards to national security and foreign affairs.

When you lead by following, there is a vacuum. When there is a vacuum, bad people feel it. If you don’t deal with the bad people it gets worse — much worse. And that’s where we are today. We have a situation in Iraq, where just today, the President said we are winning with regards to ISIS. We are not. The ISIS savage terrorist group is within about 20 miles of the Baghdad airport. We have the Big Red One flag now in Baghdad. We have 450 members of the Big Red One there. We have 150 Marines there.

Rebuttal – Greg Orman (I): I did not hear an answer from Senator Roberts as to whether or not we should have gone into Iraq in the first place. I believe we might have been a little overly optimistic to think we were going to go in there and in 10 years, we were going to take people who had been fighting for fifteen centuries and form a properly functioning democracy.

I believe that Isis and the war against ISIS has got to change. It can no longer be reconsidered a U.S. war against Muslims. It’s got to be considered a Middle Eastern war to root out extremism. So we have to have more support from allies in the region and we need to back them up to address this issue.

Pat Roberts (R): What I was going to point out was that the President is conducting a war right now. From a constitutional standpoint, Congress ought to weigh in. And the President ought to come to the Congress and explain. And explain also to the American people.

If we’re going to send more troops into Iraq to contain or destroy ISIS, and there is a bitter debate going on within the Administration what we should do, then the President has an obligation to come to Congress and the American people and explain what victory is. And he has not done that. He continues to say ‘we are going to stay put and we are going to do exactly what we’re doing and right now we’re losing with regards to Iraq and ISIS. Intelligence reports show that that is a very dangerous situation for our national security.

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