- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2014

Saying “half-measures” will not work against a growing threat from radical Islamists, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Congress should ensure President Obama has the flexibility and authority he needs to combat the threat of the Islamic State terrorist group and keep America safe.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Mr. Rubio sits on, approved a three-year military authorization Thursday that would ban the use of ground troops in most cases on a 10-8 vote, with all the panel’s Republicans voting no.

“But instead of giving the president what he needs to win this struggle, many in the Senate seem more focused on telling him what he should not do,” Mr. Rubio wrote in The Washington Post. “They argue that we need to place conditions on the types of force that can be used or impose a timeline by which victory must be achieved.”

Mr. Rubio, a possible 2016 GOP presidential contender, said the Islamic State has spread beyond Iraq and Syria and into places in North Africa like Libya to conduct training. And he said any successful effort must include a plan from removing Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, pushing for a “safe zone” along the border with Turkey and a no-fly zone for Mr. Assad’s air force in certain areas.

“The next defense secretary will need to press the U.S. military to design and implement a winning strategy against the Islamic State, while leaning hard on our partners in Europe and the Middle East to commit more forces to this fight,” he wrote. “The United States must move quickly to exert more pressure on Assad or risk fracturing the coalition as our partners grow weary of the slow, tepid U.S. response.”



“These are the issues we should be debating, not when the war will end or what types of force can be used to win it,” he concluded. “It’s time for members of Congress to ensure that the president has the flexibility and authority he needs to keep America safe, not to further tie his hands. The ultimate success of this battle and the safety and security of Americans are at stake.”

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican and another possible presidential contender, recently introduced a resolution formally declaring war against the Islamic State. He also wanted to limit combat operations to Iraq and Syria, a move rejected by the panel.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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