Chairman Carper Statement on President’s Address on ISIS

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement in reaction to President Obama’s address to the nation regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria:

“For weeks, much of the world has been exposed to a steady stream of deeply disturbing images from Iraq and Syria, mostly produced by the ruthless and murderous group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Tonight, the president made clear that the United States will not allow these militants to continue their campaign of senseless violence and oppression of those who disagree with their worldview. I could not agree more.

“President Obama was strong and clear this evening in outlining the course that our nation and our allies must take in Iraq and in Syria. We will reverse the expansion of ISIS, dismantle and degrade its ability to threaten the region, and enable the people who live in those regions to reclaim their lives. 

“As the President underscored this evening, effectively addressing the threat from ISIS will require a multifaceted strategy. That strategy includes a military component and the development of a broad international coalition to execute it, much like the measured approach former president George H.W. Bush used to drive Saddam Hussein and his forces out of Kuwait over 20 years ago.

“But with a decade of wars behind us, the American people and Congress do not have an appetite for another prolonged ground mission in Iraq. The President made clear that this strategy will not include combat troops on the ground, and I support him in that decision. But as he described, the United States has an important role in addressing the threat that ISIS poses in the region and beyond. That includes leading a broad coalition of allies to continue targeted airstrikes in Iraq and now Syria, and helping to train and equip Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as the Syrian opposition to go on the offense. It also includes conducting counterterrorism operations, including intelligence gathering, and providing humanitarian aid to innocent civilians.

“As we learned with the Sunni Awakening, a group like ISIS will only be defeated when Iraqis of all backgrounds come together and work toward a strong and united Iraq against a common foe. In addition to international support, this will also require strong, inclusive leadership in Iraq. I have been encouraged by reports that the new Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider Al-Abadi, has promised to work toward that goal of bringing together Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, and local tribal leaders, like he has done before. I encourage the Administration to continue to support Iraq’s new government as the Prime Minister draws on his past successes and applies it to his new role.   

“While national security officials and experts have said that ISIS does not pose an immediate threat to our homeland, I join the President in taking very seriously the potential threat this terrorist group poses to the United States – both at home and abroad. The goal of the strategy outlined by the President is to take out ISIS wherever it exists and ensure that ISIS does not establish a long-term safe haven from which it can launch attacks against either our allies or our homeland. 

“I want to salute the President for the leadership he showed this evening. He was strong and resolute. The course that he has outlined is one that I hope all of my colleagues in Congress will embrace and support. I look forward to learning more about this plan, how it will be implemented, and the role Congress and our allies will play.”