Boehner Urges Obama to Take ‘Active’ Role in Fighting Al-Qaida

But the House speaker stops short of calling for sending troops.

Speaker of the House John Boehner.
National Journal
Billy House
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Billy House
Jan. 9, 2014, 9:35 a.m.

Speak­er John Boehner on Thursday said it is time for Pres­id­ent Obama to take a “more act­ive role” in deal­ing with “the on­go­ing threat of al-Qaida in Ir­aq,” al­though he said he does not yet mean send­ing in Amer­ic­an troops.

“There are things that we can do to help the Ir­aqis that do not in­volve put­ting U.S. troops on the ground,” the Ohio Re­pub­lic­an said, in­clud­ing get­ting equip­ment to the Ir­aqis and provid­ing “oth­er ser­vices that will help them battle this coun­terter­ror­ism ef­fort that they are at­tempt­ing to do.”

Boehner does not typ­ic­ally speak out on mil­it­ary is­sues. However, he had been among those in­stru­ment­al in drum­ming up sup­port for the troop “surge” in 2007, and in bat­tling ef­forts to cut fund­ing and pre­vent those de­ploy­ments.

Shortly after be­gin­ning a news con­fer­ence, Boehner, un­promp­ted, told re­port­ers, “Pre­cious Amer­ic­an blood was spilled and na­tion­al treas­ure was ex­pen­ded help­ing the Ir­aqis re­move a bru­tal dic­tat­or and re­pelling ter­ror­ist ele­ments de­term­ined to stamp out hu­man free­dom and dig­nity.”

“That pro­gress is now threatened, and in the case of Fal­lu­jah, has been re­versed,” said Boehner, re­fer­ring to re­ports of Ir­aqi mil­it­ary be­ing de­feated by Qaida mil­it­ants.

Boehner went on to com­plain that Obama has del­eg­ated “his re­spons­ib­il­it­ies to the vice pres­id­ent,” and that “the ad­min­is­tra­tion has chosen to spend much of its time and en­ergy try­ing to ex­plain why hav­ing ter­ror­ists hold key ter­rain in the Middle East is not the pres­id­ent’s prob­lem.”

He said a Status of Forces agree­ment with Ir­aq should have been agreed to.

Pressed spe­cific­ally about wheth­er he is call­ing for troops to be sent, Boehner said there are oth­er things that can be done in­stead.

“One, I think the pres­id­ent ought to take a more act­ive role in deal­ing with the is­sues in Ir­aq.” He ad­ded, “Secondly, we need to get equip­ment to the Ir­aqis and oth­er ser­vices that will help them battle this coun­terter­ror­ism ef­fort that they are at­tempt­ing to do.”

“The United States has, and will con­tin­ue to have, vi­tal na­tion­al in­terests in Ir­aq,” Boehner said. “We must main­tain a long-term com­mit­ment to a suc­cess­ful out­come there. It’s time the pres­id­ent re­cog­nize this and get en­gaged.”

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