Repub­li­cans take Obama to task over anti-terror strat­egy

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

The war with the Is­lamic State in the wake of the Paris at­tack is quickly be­com­ing a war of words be­tween Pres­i­dent Obama and Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates.

As he rolled out a na­tional se­cu­rity agenda Wed­nes­day fo­cused on meet­ing the grow­ing terror threat, Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Jeb Bush railed against what he called the “ab­sence of Amer­i­can lead­er­ship” that al­lowed the rise of the ter­ror­ist army known as the Is­lamic State.

The for­mer Florida gov­er­nor pro­posed a com­plete re­ver­sal of the na­tional se­cu­rity and for­eign poli­cies of Mr. Obama and for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, the front-run­ner and heavy fa­vorite to win the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. Mr. Bush would re­place their de­fense cuts with in­creased spend­ing and sub­sti­tute force re­duc­tions with an ex­pan­sion of the Army by 40,000 sol­diers and the Marine Corps by 4,000 Marines.

His plan would end the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s un­of­fi­cial mora­to­rium of com­bat de­ploy­ments, send­ing U.S. troops into Iraq and Syria to “to­tally de­stroy” the Is­lamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL.

“Bad things — and some­times very bad things — hap­pen when Amer­ica steps away from hard chal­lenges. It is time for Amer­i­can lead­er­ship again, and that lead­er­ship re­quires a change in course,” he said in a speech at The Citadel, the mil­i­tary col­lege in Charleston, South Carolina.

His speech was the lat­est in a se­ries of pro­pos­als from Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates to re­build U.S. mil­i­tary might and bring it to bear on the Is­lamic State, which con­trols a swath of ter­ri­tory in Iraq and Syria the size of the United King­dom.

The calls for ex­panded airstrikes and troops on the ground were met with de­ri­sion by Mr. Obama, who has been trav­el­ing abroad. He re­buked them for want­ing to “pop off” with­out offering an al­ter­na­tive strat­egy.

Mr. Obama also dis­missed Repub­li­can can­di­dates’ op­po­si­tion to his plan to bring 10,000 Syr­ian refugees to Amer­ica, de­spite a grow­ing cho­rus of law­mak­ers and gov­er­nors wor­ried that Is­lamic State ter­ror­ists could be em­bed­ded with refugees, as were at least one of the Paris at­tack­ers.

“Ap­par­ently they’re scared of wid­ows and or­phans com­ing into the United States of Amer­ica as part of our tra­di­tion of com­pas­sion,” the pres­i­dent said of the Repub­li­cans while vis­it­ing the Philip­pines.

He said Repub­li­cans’ views re­gard­ing the refugees were “of­fen­sive” and “un-Amer­i­can.”

That spurred Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to dare Mr. Obama to “in­sult me to my face.”

“Mr. Pres­i­dent, if you want to in­sult me, you can do it over­seas, you can do it in Tur­key — you can do it in for­eign coun­tries. But I would en­cour­age you, Mr. Pres­i­dent, come back and in­sult me to my face,” Mr. Cruz told re­porters on Capi­tol Hill.

“It’s easy to toss a cheap in­sult when no one can re­spond, but let’s have a de­bate,” he said. “Let’s have a de­bate on Syr­ian refugees right now. We can do it any­where you want. I’d pre­fer it in the United States and not over­seas, where you’re making the in­sults.”

The rhetoric also heated up over Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry’s com­ment that the Paris mas­sacre lacked the “ra­tio­nale” be­hind an at­tack ear­lier this year by Is­lamic State in Paris on the satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo, which of­fended the ter­ror­ists by draw­ing car­toons of Is­lam’s Prophet Muham­mad.

“He needs to get some sleep and shut up is what he needs,” Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and New Jer­sey Gov. Christie said of Mr. Kerry in an in­ter­view on Fox News.

“There’s some­thing dif­fer­ent about what hap­pened from Char­lie Hebdo, and I think ev­ery­body would feel that,” Mr. Kerry said Tues­day. “There was a sort of par­tic­u­lar­ized fo­cus and per­haps even a le­git­i­macy in terms of — not a le­git­i­macy, but a ra­tio­nale that you could at­tach your­self to some­how and say, OK, they’re really an­gry be­cause of this and that. This Fri­day was ab­so­lutely in­dis­crim­i­nate.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and for­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush de­cried the “ab­sence of Amer­i­can lead­er­ship” that al­lowed the Is­lamic State to fes­ter in the Mid­dle East, and pro­posed a re­ver­sal of Pres­i­dent Obama’s poli­cies to con­tain the threat.

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