Tags: Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | Richard Clarke | isis | us | terrorism

Richard Clarke: ISIS on Way to Becoming 'Terrorist Sanctuary Nation'

Image: Richard Clarke: ISIS on Way to Becoming 'Terrorist Sanctuary Nation'
(Mohammed Abdul Aziz/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:08 AM

The United States needs to decide, as a country, if it cares about defeating an Islamic State that's poised to become its own terror-breeding country, counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke said Thursday.

"We don't have a strategy as far as I can tell in Syria," Clarke told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "In Iraq we have a strategy that is not working, which is to let everybody else kind of do it and we'll provide loose support. We have to decide as a country whether we care about this."

Congress has refused to act on President Barack Obama's request for a use of force authorization, said Clarke, and perhaps if requests for U.S. advisers to work with the Iraqi national army had come through, the loss of Ramadi could have been prevented.

But more moves aren't being made, said Clarke, because "we're risk averse. We don't want that American casualty. After all, we've left Iraq, except for the 3,000 guys we still have there."

There is a reluctance from the administration to "do anything that looks like going back" into the Middle East, he said. "But in some limited way, more than we're doing now, we have to go back if we want to destroy ISIS."

The consequences of inaction will be the continued emergence of a terrorist sanctuary nation, Clarke said.

"It's a nation," said Clarke. "It's got a couple million people. It's larger than about three dozen nations in the U.N. and it straddles the Iraqi border. It's a country and it will train terrorists and send them places like here."

But there are alternatives to traditional boots on the ground, he said.

"If you define it as American active combat units, we don't need it to come to that," said Clarke. "Special forces units, yes, as we did in the Syria raid over the weekend.

"But there are ways. We could arm the Kurds. We haven't been doing that because the Baghdad government doesn't want us to ... we could provide air support for the Iranian-backed Shia militia. We haven't done that because the administration is afraid of the congressional reaction."

And Clarke thinks all of those options should be explored.

"We're faced with a major threat," he said. "We have no prospect of liberating Mosul this year. We are in a serious situation. We have to make that decision as a country explicitly, because we'll have some casualties and we'll have some costs.

"People need to decide if they want to go back into Iraq even a little bit — but they have to to stop ISIS, because otherwise we'll have a terrorist state and it will get around to threatening us here."

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The United States needs to decide, as a country, if it cares about defeating an Islamic State that's poised to become its own terror-breeding country, counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke said Thursday.
Richard Clarke, isis, us, terrorism, iraq
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2015-08-21
Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:08 AM
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