(CNN) – Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, says the President shouldn’t have announced that the United States will not be sending troops to Iraq.
“I don’t think you should ever tell the enemy what you are going to do and what you’re not going to do,” King, R-New York, told CNN on Saturday, a day after the President Barack Obama made remarks at the White House. “I would have thought that with a crisis like this, he should not have called the (news) conference to announce he will look at it.”
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Obama said that he would be reviewing a range of options beyond troop deployment.
King has been vocal in the past about the United States’ role in global crises. In 2013, King said that he would vote in favor of authorizing the president to use militarily force in Syria after reports surfaced of chemical weapons attacks in the region.
As far as the decision not to put boots on the ground in Iraq, King says he agrees with the president from a practical standpoint. But he does think that airstrikes should be made, if feasible.
“If nothing else,” King told CNN’s Michael Smerconish, the airstrikes should be used “to stop this assault and give the Iraqi army the chance to consolidate and at least defend Baghdad.”
Obama has not ruled out airstrikes against militants challenging the government. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that he expects the President to make “timely decisions,” given the gravity of the situation.
King said that the administration should have been aware of the growing threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. “From the time the president withdrew the troops back in 2011, and certainly over the last year and several months, we have known how powerful ISIS has become,” King said. “This should not be a shock to anyone.”
Pressure for the United States to provide military support to Iraq's struggling government has increased, with conservative Republicans blaming Obama for creating a security vacuum in by pulling out U.S. troops. Obama, however, resists getting drawn into another military engagement there after the ending the nine-year conflict.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, on Friday called for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be fired, along with the president’s national security team, including Susan Rice.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-California, also knocked the president’s national security team, saying in a statement, “The President should also ask himself if his White House National Security team is equal to the crisis at hand. I don’t believe they are.”
While King didn’t call for the group to be fired, he did say that he feels that the president’s team has failed him. Citing briefings given in the last several months, King said there were a number of people saying that action should have taken place earlier to stop the ISIS threat.
“I do know the intelligence community and others were aware of what was happening in Iraq,” King said. “Maybe not to this extent, but certainly for the potential for this to happen. And it’s really inexcusable to me how we have been caught so short on this.”
King also said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki “needs to go.”
Despite public opinion leaning heavily against becoming involved in conflicts overseas, King says there is a national interest in stopping ISIS from gaining a foothold in the Middle East.
“The fact is that if ISIS is able to take over large parts of Iraq, combining that with the gains that they have made in Syria - also if you combine what (al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Jabhat) al-Nusra is doing in Syria - you are really going toward that Islamic caliphate. And I believe ... not just in the long run, but in the short run, it will be damaging to U.S. interests.”