Lawmakers weighed in on U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq this week, with Democrats supporting the president's agenda of limited involvement while Republicans said more action is needed to stop militants who threaten the United States.
"Only Iraq can save Iraq," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "There is so much that we can do to help the Iraqis help themselves, but ultimately, they have to save their own country."
Durbin said expanding U.S. military involvement in Iraq was "not in the cards," citing public opposition to such a move.
"Neither the American people nor Congress are in the business of wanting to escalate this conflict beyond where it is today," he said. "I think the president's made it clear this is a limited strike. He has, I believe, most congressional support for that at this moment. To go beyond is really going to be a challenge."
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said during an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the airstrikes have been successful in destroying heavy artillery, disrupting convey communication lines and making it easier for Kurdish forces to fight back against the Islamic State.
"I think these targeted strikes are very effective," he said. "The Kurds are very aggressive. With this support, I think they will be able to stabilize the situation in the north."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) dismissed the notion that Iraq could handle the situation itself.
"We need to go on offense," he said "Fox News Sunday." "There is no force within the Mideast that can neutralize or contain or destroy ISIS without at least American air power." The Islamic State was formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
Both Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) called for an escalation in U.S. involvement. McCain told CNN's "Meet the Press" that the United States should expand airstrike targets to include Islamic State elements in Syria, and provide training and supplies to those fighting against the militants, while King said on "Meet the Press" that the United States must do "whatever we have to do" to stop the Islamic State.
"ISIS is a direct threat to the United States of America," King said. "They are more powerful now than al-Qaeda was on 9/11."
Republicans, including King, attributed the rise of the Islamic State to failure on the part of the Obama administration, but Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" that the blame falls on Iraq.
"If you're looking at what the real cause here, the real cause is that the Iraqi government has not formed the way it should to protect the rights of all Iraqis," he said. "We are not going to get in the middle of a civil war and use American military where it should be Iraqis taking care of their own needs.
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