Tags: GOP2016 | Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | NSA/Surveillance | rick santorum | isis | airstrikes

Santorum: Put 10,000 Troops in Iraq to Aid in ISIS Fight

Image: Santorum: Put 10,000 Troops in Iraq to Aid in ISIS Fight
(Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters)

By    |   Friday, 29 May 2015 10:31 AM

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said Friday that he favors putting more American troops in the Middle East to help in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), and he accused President Barack Obama of waging a "public relations war" with airstrikes that is having little effect.

"I'm not talking about front-line troops," Santorum, who officially announced his presidential campaign this week, said on the MSNBC "Morning Joe" program, but instead adding troops that "improve the efficacy on those on the ground."

But, he told MSNBC, he is not advocating "anywhere near the troop levels that we had when we were fighting, where there are lots of body bags coming back."

There are already 3,000 American soldiers in Iraq working as advisers and trainers, and Santorum suggested increasing those numbers to about 10,000, "a troop level that actually many suggested that we should have kept when we pulled out of Iraq."

The former senator also on Friday called for other steps that are key to winning the war against ISIS, including better arming the Kurds and helping the Jordanians.

Egypt also wants to help, said Santorum, but the United States is holding back on arms, and he feels "we could be doing so much more proactive with the Egyptians."

But overall, Santorum called the fight against ISIS just Obama's "public relations war."

"He's not fighting a real war," said Santorum, telling the show that airstrikes aren't going to do any "substantial damage" against ISIS.

"So we have to step up the campaign," he said. "You can't do that unless you have more boots on the ground so you understand the targeting and coordination of troops. That's a whole combination of things. And I'm not talking about massive invasionary force, but many generals have suggested we have to double or triple the 3,000 that we have there right now to provide effective support for those who are fighting."

However, Santorum fears that if the United States doesn't start defeating ISIS, there will be more casualties in the United States.

"ISIS is going to get stronger," he said. "They will have much more appeal to jihadists over the world, including in this country."

Further, ISIS is looking to obtain a nuclear weapon from Pakistan and to bring it into the United States, said Santorum, and he doesn't think that scheme is "hyperbole," given the militants' use of mass graves and crucifixions.

"These are folks [who are] serious about killing Americans and killing anybody in their way, and we better start taking them seriously," Santorum said.

The former senator, also appearing on CNN's "New Day" on Friday, said that he has long been willing to arm Sunni tribal leaders in the fight against ISIS.

"I have been an advocate of arming the Kurds for a long time to give them military aid," said Santorum. "They are willing to fight and they are effective fighters and they are very strong in support of our ideals, and they can be a great front against the Islamic State."

But he pointed out that there between 14 and 20 pilots sent out on airstrikes each day, but most are not dropping ordnance.

"If we are going to win and say we are going to fight, we can't fight and lose," Santorum told CNN. "Not really fight and then lose, and that's worse."

He told CNN that he believes it will be a "disaster" for Republicans to nominate a presidential candidate who has little experience in national security, pointing out that it's "critically important" for the next president.

Santorum served on the Armed Services committee for eight years and ran a program at a think tank that focused on the threat of radical Islam.

Also on Friday, he talked about his campaign and his support of some agenda items other Republicans have opposed.

"I supported minimum wage increases when I was in the House, when I was in the Senate," he told MSNBC. However, he does not support Obama's plans for a minimum wage increase, as he believes that plan will transition jobs from paying minimum wage into a living wage proposal.

"I supported, in fact proposed, a dollar-and-a-half increase over three years," said Santorum, noting that is a level many Republicans in the past have supported.

The former senator also said he'll push for manufacturing growth, and stressed the importance of energy.

"We have to continue the fracking revolution ... and have stable low prices for the long term," Santorum said, telling MSNBC he plans to lay out a strong pro-growth plan in the next few weeks that will include calls for lowering taxes.

And Santorum told the station that he and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul "are not on the same page" when it comes to reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

He said he is concerned about security and privacy rights, but believes the Patriot Act has already shown a good balance.

"Ten hours of debate by Sen. Paul and not one instance in which there was any kind of real breach that someone's privacy was violated," Santorum said.

Santorum said he'd also be included to arm Ukraine against Russia, and follow a pact signed under former President Bill Clinton to support and defend that country.

"We have not lived up to that," he said. "We have sent all the wrong signals in Eastern Europe, starting with withdrawing our support for the Czechs and Poles. So we've given all the green lights to Russia, and then we're surprised that they're going through the intersection."

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Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said Friday that he favors putting more American troops in the Middle East to help in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), and he accused President Barack Obama of waging a "public relations war" with airstrikes that is having little effect.
rick santorum, isis, airstrikes, troops, iraq, patriot act
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2015-31-29
Friday, 29 May 2015 10:31 AM
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