President Obama found himself under fire Sunday for his cautious approach to beating back the Islamic State’s march through Iraq and Syria and stamping out other diplomatic fires around the globe, with a top House Republican suggesting his foreign policy was in free fall and that Western allies no longer view the U.S. as a leader in the fight against bad actors.
Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the administration is sitting on its hands while radical Islamist fighters grow in influence, recruit from abroad and seize more territory in Iraq and Syria.
“Europe has obviously stood up and said, ‘We have a huge problem.’ [British Prime Minister] David Cameron came out and said, ‘Not only do we have a problem, here’s my plan to deal with it,’” Mr. Rogers told “Fox News Sunday.”
“And so the United States seems to be in this malaise of not being that concerned,” said Mr. Rogers, taking an implicit shot at Mr. Obama as another Jimmy Carter.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was more forgiving but suggested Mr. Obama has been too cautious in addressing the threat posed by well-funded Islamic State fighters intent on expanding their reach.
“They have announced that they don’t intend to stop,” she told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, spill our blood. This is a vicious, vicious movement, and it has to be confronted.”
Mr. Obama raised eyebrows last week by acknowledging that the U.S. does not have a strategy to defeat the brutal Islamic State, which has grown to an estimated 10,000 members and employed savvy recruiting tactics in its bid to set up a caliphate with a strict adherence to Islam’s Shariah law.
An Islamist-allied militia in control of Libya’s capital seized the U.S. Embassy and its residential compound, a commander said Sunday, as onlookers toured the abandoned homes of diplomats who fled the country more than a month ago.
The breach of a deserted U.S. diplomatic post in Tripoli — including images of men earlier swimming in the compound’s algae-filled pools — likely will reinvigorate debate in the U.S. over its role in Libya, more than three years after supporting rebels who toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The images have surfaced just before the second anniversary of the slaying of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, an incident that remains under investigation by a select congressional panel.
Over the same weekend, high-level officials such as the president of Lithuania and Sen. Robert C. Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, said the situation in Ukraine had erupted into a full-scale war involving Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has taunted Mr. Obama as feckless, and Mr. Obama has compared Mr. Putin to a petulant child who has not stepped into the 21st century.
Republicans toggled Sunday between pointing the finger at Mr. Obama and proposing what he should do.
The president has earned plaudits for beating back the Islamic State at the Mosul Dam, a strategic part of Iraq, but has been dogged by questions about his next moves and whether he needs to open a Syrian battle front.
He fanned the flames among his critics Thursday with six words: “We don’t have a strategy yet.”