The Iraq War was a major issue in the last three presidential races and many of the likely candidates in the next election are already staking out their positions on the new U.S. military operations that launched in the country last week.
In statements issued since American airstrikes were launched in Iraq against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) last week, many of the likely 2016 candidates have weighed in on the the military operations and affiliated humanitarian missions to aid members of the Yazidi religious group who are being targeted by the jihadists. However, some of the presumed presidential hopefuls have declined opportunities to comment on the issue.
“I support the airstrikes against ISIS as well as providing humanitarian aid to Iraqis in harm’s way. ISIS poses a real threat to our national security, and we must deal with it sooner rather than later,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, told Business Insider in a statement on Monday.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who many believe could make it to the White House by running to the left of other Democrats, also expressed support for the military operations while speaking to reporters last Friday.
“It’s a complicated situation right now in Iraq, and the president has taken very targeted actions to provide humanitarian relief that the Iraqi government requested, and to protect American citizens,” she said, according to The Lowell Sun.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is widely considered the Democratic front-runner, took things a step further in a widely-circulated interview published Sunday by The Atlantic. In the piece, Clinton criticised President Barack Obama for not being more proactive in fighting ISIS by arming a moderate opposition to the Syrian regime.
Several of the Republicans openly exploring 2016 White House bids combined their support for the air strikes with an even broader critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. According to the National Journal, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) “praised” the air strikes but slammed Obama for lacking a “coherent strategy when it comes to dealing with ISIS.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) penned an op-ed declaring Obama made the “right” call to bomb ISIS but said the president “avoided taking decisive action” previously. Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) similarly criticised Obama’s foreign policy worldview as “not distinguishable from anything.” However, Perry also noted the air strikes were “the right” thing to do. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he was “glad that President Obama is finally beginning to take the threat of ISIS seriously” while simultaneously criticising him for not seeking congressional approval for the operations.
Not all of the 2016 hopefuls appeared eager to comment on the air strikes.
Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein took to Twitter on Monday to note his outlet asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), an Iraq War critic, for his thoughts on the matter last week and has not received and answer. Business Insider reached out to Paul’s office on Monday as well and, as of this writing, has yet to receive a response.
Michael Drewniak, a spokesperson New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has already displayed a tendency to avoid hot-button national issues, told Business Insider the governor was not in a position to comment on the situation in Iraq.
“He was on vacation with his family during the recent developments,” Drewniak said of Christie.
Business Insider also contacted other hypothetical presidential contenders — including Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. As of this writing, none of them have weighed in, but we will update this post if they respond.
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