"Massive" air attacks in Iraq are needed for the United States to prevail against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, Rep. Peter King said Tuesday on Newsmax TV
's "America's Forum."
King said the targeted airstrikes ordered by President Barack Obama might be effective in ending the ISIS blockade that threatened Yazidi refugees, but said the terrorist group continued "to move forward."
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"If we're going to be successful, [if] we have to even have a chance of being successful, [we need] massive air attacks all over wherever ISIS is. Wherever we can hit them, do that," the New York Republican said Tuesday.
King said there was a question about the allegiance of Iraqi forces since embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki still had control over "significant parts of the [Iraqi] military." He questioned whether Iraqi forces would "basically shred their constitution" and follow Maliki's leadership after Iraqi President Fouad Massoum named a new prime minister on Monday.
"I don't think he would try to pull a coup, and I don't know if the military would go along with him," King said.
Opinion about how to proceed in Iraq varied. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney
on Monday called the recent airstrikes "less than pinpricks," and urged an "offensive air campaign."
Gen. Jack Keane said on Fox News on Monday that defeating ISIS forces had to include ground forces, which he said could include the Kurdish Peshmurga army or "remnants of the Iraqi army that still has the will to fight."
Sen. John McCain
told The New York Times that Obama misunderstood the threat to the United States from ISIS, which he called "the richest, most powerful terrorist organization in history." He said the limited airstrikes against ISIS would not be enough to curb their advancement.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin warned against U.S. involvement in Iraq, suggesting that it was the job of the Iraqi government to defend itself. He told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that escalation by the U.S. in Iraq was "not in the cards," Politico reported
. "Only Iraq can save Iraq."
King said Durbin was "missing the whole picture," because ISIS poses a threat beyond Iraq.
"If ISIS is able to maintain that land mass that they have as a privileged sanctuary, it's going to undermine the Middle East, and they'll have hundreds of fighters available to come to the United States. And we know that's their goal," King said.
King said one reason U.S. intelligence failed to anticipate the potential strength of ISIS efforts was because the president withdrew U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011.
"The U.S., when President Obama pulled out all our troops, we had nobody embedded with the Iraqi army, so we did not know how weak it was going to be," he said.
King said in addition to airstrikes, it was important for the U.S. to "start arming the Kurds" in the northern part of Iraq and also to get "some of the Arab neighbors involved." He said he felt confident that U.S. airstrikes could "definitely make a real difference" in northern Iraq.
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