American forces are going to be put at risk in Iraq because the United States failed to leave residual forces behind at the end of the war in 2011, said Sen. Tom Coburn.
Tribal factions have been battling in Iraq, with a militant insurgent group, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), overtaking major cities and large regions of the country. President Barack Obama
told Congress on Monday he would send in 275 troops to aid in securing U.S. assets.
He is also considering a larger U.S. presence in Iraq to help stabilize the country.
"We're going to have Americans put at risk again because we didn't leave a residual force" in Iraq, the Oklahoma Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.
Coburn said the United States left residual forces in Korea after the conflict in the 1950s, and in Europe after World War II. He said a U.S. presence had "a large impact in terms of people's behavior."
There is a risk of the same thing happening when U.S. forces leave Afghanistan as happened in Iraq if residual troops do not remain, Coburn warned. He said bowing to public opinion against getting involved in Iraq would end up "putting our country at high risk again."
He called for leadership from the White House to make the case to the American people.
"Sitting on the (Senate) Intel Committee, I can tell you that what we need is leadership to explain the importance of why we want to stop the terrorism, al-Qaida, and the Taliban, throughout the Middle East, and everywhere else they are. Because, ultimately, it's going to land on our shores if we don't," he said.
Coburn said "real leadership" is "doing the right, best thing for the country, even when the public isn't with you, trying to win them over and then suffering the consequence if you didn't. But, still, doing the right thing."
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