- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont pushed back Tuesday against Speaker John Boehner’s suggestion over the weekend the U.S. military may have “no choice” but to send ground troops into Syria to deal with the Islamic State.

The independent senator said Arab nations should be leading the charge against the brutal militants in their region of the world.

So far, the Islamic State has grown to tens of thousands strong and taken a wide swath of Iraq and Syria, blurring the nations’ border.

“The war against ISIS, a brutal and dangerous organization, cannot be won unless the Muslim nations which are most threatened — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Iran and Jordan — become fully engaged, including the use of ground troops,” Mr. Sanders said in a press release. “The U.S. and the international community should be fully supportive but the leadership in this war must come from the Muslim world.”

Mr. Sanders noted the oil-rich royal family of Saudi Arabia was the fourth-largest defense spender in the world.

“Saudi Arabia has a large and modern air force and a strong standing army. They should not expect that American taxpayers and the U.S armed forces will do their work for them. … In the Middle East, this war cannot be perceived as West versus East, Christian versus Muslim or the U.S. versus ISIS. It must be seen as a war in which Muslim countries throughout the region are standing up for their beliefs against an extremist and brutal organization which has grossly distorted the tenets of Islam,” the senator said.

Mr. Sanders was responding to Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, who said on ABC’s “This Week” that U.S. airstrikes may not be enough to defeat the Islamic State, and that it was unwise for President Obama to have divulge what he “wouldn’t do,” namely place ground troops in the theater.

“The use of U.S. combat troops in Syria could well get us into a Mideast quagmire and perpetual warfare in the region,” Mr. Sanders said. “Instead of spending tens of billions on war in the Mideast, we should be investing in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating millions of decent-paying jobs here at home.”

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