Both Kansas senators said Monday they don’t support sending U.S. troops back to Iraq to try to rein in Islamic militants, who have seized much of the country and have declared areas they control an independent caliphate.
In meetings with writers and editors at The Eagle, Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts said they think it would be ineffective to send U.S. troops back to the oil-rich but unstable Middle Eastern nation where the United States has fought two wars since 1990.
“I don’t think there’s anything President Obama can do to lead this country back to a solution of Iraq,” Moran said Monday morning. “In my view, it was a mistake to leave precipitously, but having that decision been made, then I don’t think you can put this back together again.”
The success of the primarily Sunni Muslim insurgency, led by an al-Qaida spin-off known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has caused a schism among Republicans over sending troops back to Iraq to try to put down the growing insurgency and to stabilize the country’s U.S.-backed government.
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Moran said he doesn’t think it would work, because it would take longer than the political will to do it would last.
“I think trying to go back in and correct the circumstances that it (Iraq) is now in – I just don’t see a path by which we would have success,” Moran said. “And I actually hate reaching that conclusion, because there are so many people who have sacrificed lives in regard to trying to make Iraq a better place and freedom and liberty in that part of the world that it will be more difficult to find the success in their sacrifice.”
Moran said he was “skeptical or reluctant to engage in Iraq in the first place” during the lead-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion but changed his mind after he was called to the Bush White House for a meeting with then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Moran served in the House of Representatives at the time.
“Because of that skepticism that I’d expressed, I get to sit across the table like this from Condoleezza Rice, who tells me ‘Congressman, we know they have weapons of mass destruction, we know they have chemical weapons, we know they have biological weapons, and it’s only a short order of time before they’re able to deliver a nuclear device across their border. This is a real problem.’ And I believed her.”
Roberts said during an afternoon visit to The Eagle that the United States should try to work with other Sunni Muslim nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to see whether “there is some way we can stabilize the country.”
He said he could not blame the current problems on the failure to negotiate an agreement to keep U.S. forces in Iraq and that the fighting was bound to erupt eventually anyway.
The United States “can’t go back in a military situation now,” he said. “I don’t know how you could do that.”
He also said America “should not try to plant democracy where it’s not welcome and it has no roots.”
Contributing: Deb Gruver of The Eagle