Senator John McCain (Reuters / Joshua Roberts)
If Republicans gain control of the US Senate following the November midterm elections, President Barack Obama should expect an old rival in a powerful position to push for US ground troops in Iraq and Syria.
Sen. John McCain, who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama, is currently the most senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. If his party wins a majority in the Senate, as it is expected to do, McCain would become chairman of the committee, which oversees defense policy and the military.
The longtime senator from Arizona said over the weekend that he would use his perch on the committee to advocate sending ground troops to buttress US-led airstrikes against extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL), which has come to control large areas of Iraq and Syria since the latter’s civil war brought the group to prominence.
“Frankly, I know of no military expert who believes we are going to defeat ISIS with this present strategy,” McCain said at a Pacific Council on International Policy conference, according to The Huffington Post.
McCain has hit the campaign trail ahead of election day to support his party’s Senate candidates. The GOP has painted President Obama’s foreign policy and national security policies as weak as well as insufficient in the fight against jihadist group du jour, Islamic State.
“We may be able to ‘contain,’ but to actually defeat ISIS is going to require more boots on the ground, more vigorous strikes, more special forces, further arming the Kurdish peshmerga forces and creating a no-fly zone and buffer zone in Syria,” McCain said.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, a fellow foe of Islamic State, must be removed from office if the US wants to see success against extremism in the region, McCain added.
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