President Barack Obama needs to use U.S. military muscle to hit the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, with an "aggressive" air assault, former Democratic National Committee Chairman and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Dean said he agreed with Obama
that it would be a "long-term" effort to beat back ISIS, which this week beheaded American journalist James Foley. The militant group has been successful in overtaking large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria in its goal to establish a caliphate.
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"I think he has to continue to be aggressive from the air," Dean, also former Democratic governor of Vermont, said Friday. "These guys are not going away. I think we'll win this effort."
The brutality of ISIS was "about as bad as it gets," Dean said, calling the group "cultists who murder people for thrill." He said the militants needed to be "eradicated."
Dean said Obama was "doing the right thing" with his strategy, which included targeted airstrikes, support to the Iraqi military, and arms to Kurdish forces. He said it would be an "enormous tactical mistake" to put "troops on the ground," saying the United States should opt instead to rely on technical capabilities.
"This is what high tech is for is to knock the guys off with drones and whatever else we need to do," he said.
Dean said he predicted Iraq would fall to terrorist forces when the United States was first considering invading more than a decade ago to fight then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"If you look back at the stuff I was saying at the time, I predicted Iraq would split into three groups. And, al-Qaida, which of course is gone, essentially . . . would take over in one of those areas and set up a stronghold," Dean said.
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