Republicans today slammed Barack Obama for not spelling out a clear action plan to defeat Islamic State with leading presidential aspirant of the party Donald Trump panning the US President for not saying that America is at “war with radical Islamic terrorists”.
“Obama refused to say (he just can’t say it) that we are at WAR with RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS,” Trump said in a series of tweets soon after Obama delivered a rare address to the nation in which he assured Americans of defeating ISIS.
Expressing disappointment over Obama’s address, he said, “Is that all there is? We need a new President – FAST!,” he said, adding that the US should have gone after oil years ago.
Joining Trump in being disappointed over Obama’s speech, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives said the primary responsibility is to keep the Americans safe from the real and evolving threat of radical Islamic terrorism.
“That will require the president to produce a comprehensive strategy to confront and defeat ISIS. The enemy is adapting, and we must too. That’s why what we heard tonight was so disappointing: no new plan, just a half-hearted attempt to defend and distract from a failing policy,” he said.
“The horrific events of recent weeks remind us that any hope to contain ISIS has been a failure. Until we hear from the President what more can be done, with our military, our intelligence gathering, and our international partners, we will remain one step behind our enemy. This is not just the next president’s problem. It is our problem, and we must confront it today,” Ryan said.
Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Obama offered no changes to his reactive, indirect, and incremental strategy.
“He continues to assume that time is on our side. It is not. If we do not destroy this threat now, and fast, no one should be surprised if America gets attacked again. Whatever we would do in response to such an attack is what we should do now to prevent it. America needs a strategy to destroy ISIL as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that is not what President Obama described tonight,” McCain said.
After more than a year of an indecisive military campaign, ISIS maintains its sanctuaries in Iraq and Syria to conduct and inspire attacks like Paris and San Bernardino, he said.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said the US faces a real threat from radical Islamic terrorism.
“The terrorists seek to tear down the very constitutional rights we enjoy and that countless men and women have fought to defend, to react by trying to limit the rights enshrined by our constitution would be a terrible mistake. The attacks in San Bernardino should serve as a wake-up call for Obama and Clinton that the way to victory is not through the status quo but refocusing our efforts to defeat ISIS,” Priebus said.
Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said the US needs to remove the self-imposed constraints Obama has placed on the intelligence community and military.
“We need to put in place an aggressive strategy to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism as I have proposed.
Unfortunately, neither he nor Hillary Clinton has the resolve to put in place such a strategy. This is the war of our time. It should not be business as usual. We need a war-time Commander-in-Chief who is ready to lead this country and the free world to victory,” Bush said.
Meanwhile, top Democrats came out in defence of Obama.
“There may be a tendency to panic after these attacks but oftentimes our first reactions are overreactions. Make no mistake, that is precisely what terrorists want,” top Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said.
“They commit these atrocities to disrupt our lives, make us look over our shoulders, and to turn neighbour against neighbour in fear. We cannot allow the US to fall into that trap. America has a proud history of responding to tragedy with compassion for those impacted, and steady resolve to prevent future attacks. We must continue it in defiance of this evil,” he said.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Obama was resolute and strong in his speech.
“The US will not yield to terror. We will be relentless in strengthening our efforts to protect the American people, defeat terrorism and destroy ISIS,” she said.
“In the aftermath of the horrific attacks from San Bernardino to Paris, it is inexcusable to protect the outrageous loophole that allows suspected terrorists to buy guns. Congress must come together to toughen our background checks and keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, strengthen the Visa Waiver Program, and debate and vote on a long overdue AUMF (Authorisation for Use of Military Force) tailored to the ISIS threat,” Pelosi said.
Another leading GOP presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio argued the case of sending ground troops, which was flatly denied by Obama.
“No one is calling for an invasion of 100,000 American troops. We don’t need 100,000 troops from anywhere to defeat ISIS, but it will take a substantial ground army that needs to be made up primarily of Sunni Arabs from the region, but they will need American special operators, a significant increase in air support, and we will have to beef up our intelligence programs,” Rubio told Fox news in an interview.
“These individuals that conducted this attack would not have been prevented from accessing their weapons. And then the cynicism, the cynicism tonight to spend a significant amount of time talking about discrimination against Muslims.
“Where is there widespread evidence that we have a problem in America with discrimination against Muslims. And the refusal to call this what it is, a war on radical Islam. I think not only did the president not make things better tonight, I fear he may have made things worse in the minds of many Americans,” Rubio added.