Gen. Jack Keane: US Could've Prevented Siege in Iraq

Friday, 08 Aug 2014 02:20 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Iraq would not be under siege by Islamic militants if President Barack Obama had responded to a request for help three months ago from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Gen. Jack Keane told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

Al-Maliki made the initial request when the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the militant insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Keane said, adding the United States denied that request for help.

"If he had adhered to al-Maliki's initial request, this situation we're in now would not have been happening, because we would have been using those airstrikes now for a couple months. And that's the harsh reality," Keane, a retired four-star Army general, said Friday.

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Obama announced Thursday the United States would send airdrops of food and water to 40,000 Yazidi refugees fleeing ISIS militants. Obama also approved airstrikes against ISIS, and the Pentagon announced targeted attacks began Friday.

Keane said Obama did not respond to al-Maliki's request for assistance because he wanted any aid tied to a "political reconciliation of the government in Iraq."

Keane said that was merely an "excuse not to act."

"The harsh reality is ISIS needs to be stopped, regardless of the political situation in Iraq, which, obviously, is important, but it's not primary. What is primary is stopping ISIS," he said.

The United States needs to hold an "emergency summit" with its allies in the region to draft a "comprehensive strategy, to stop and defeat" ISIS, Keane said. Since officials know what bank the militant group uses, he said the United States could "target that and take their money away, like we did so successfully with al-Qaida."

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters told "America's Newsroom" that Americans have no "objection to using air power to kill jihadis who are slaughtering Christians and other minorities." He said hesitation by the White House to act militarily showed that "Obama and his grad school groupies are out of touch with the American people."

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"The idea that the American people don't want to hurt jihadis is nuts," Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, said Friday. "These people are monstrous butchers. The American people would be glad to see them killed."

While airstrikes alone would not destroy ISIS forces, Peters said it would boost the morale of forces battling ISIS and could curb advancements by the militant fighters.

"While we cannot destroy Islamic state terrorists from the air, we can't destroy a caliphate, we can degrade them and give encouragement to the Kurds and others fighting them, who right now are very discouraged. So, I'm glad we're doing something. But, we've got to do more," he said.

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