The United States is "visible by its absence" in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS), former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
American involvement in the campaign against the militant group began in August with a series of limited airstrikes alongside coalition forces targeting ISIS targets in Iraq, followed by strikes that started in Syria in September.
President Barack Obama also approved U.S. troops to serve as advisers to Middle East fighters.
Despite the airstrikes, ISIS militants have continued to release videos showing the beheadings of Western journalists, Arabs and others, and terror attacks have taken place in the U.S., Canada, France, Denmark, and Australia.
"I think the Europeans are very concerned, given events in Paris and Copenhagen, given the threat ISIS made to go after Rome itself.
"There's a lot of willingness to join together," Bolton said Tuesday. "There are a lot of different views about how to do it and what to do. That's why you need leadership. The United States is visible by its absence at this point."
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Jordan stepped up a series of airstrikes after a video was released Feb. 3 that showed a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS being burned alive
in a cage. And Egyptian forces launched air attacks in Libya against ISIS targets after a video released on Sunday purportedly showed 21 Egyptian Christians beheaded along a Libyan coast.
Nations were "collapsing all over the Middle East," Bolton said, adding they were "looking for a strong outside power to lead them."
"It's like saying in the 1930s, why can't the Czechoslovaks stand up to the Germans?" he said. "[Middle Eastern nations] require additional assistance and leadership. And, they're not getting it."
It was going to demand boots on the grounds to retake territory from ISIS, Bolton said, adding the militants would continue to gain ground while being hit by airstrikes.
"Unless this country makes the political decision that the safety of the United States requires the absolute obliteration of ISIS, it's just going to continue to expand," he said.
Bolton said the "fundamental problem" with the campaign against ISIS was the U.S. policy had not determined "what the ends are," adding Obama still considered the militant organization "a law enforcement problem like mayors face in our cities and towns across the country."
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