Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said Wednesday he hasn’t seen a “seriousness of purpose” in confronting the Islamic State terrorist group, as the White House sent a request for the authorization for use of military force to fight the group to Congress for consideration.
In an approximately 30-minute speech at the Center for Security Policy’s “Defeat Jihad” summit, Mr. Cruz also methodically picked apart recent comments from the president on religion, free speech and terrorism that have come under fire.
“What do you intend to do and how do you intend to do it?” Mr. Cruz said. “With regard to ISIS, we have not seen a seriousness of purpose. We have seen, instead, photo op foreign policy — a bomb here, a missile there.”
“The solution to ISIS is to hunt down and kill the terrorist leaders,” he said later. “But when you have an administration that will not utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorist,’ you have an administration that is unwilling to effectively design and implement a strategy to defeat radical Islamic terrorists.”
Mr. Cruz, who is weighing a run for president in 2016, called for “immediately” arming the Kurds and stripping U.S. citizenship from people who join the fight with the Islamic State.
Mr. Cruz, while he referred to the “Obama-Kerry-Clinton” foreign policy, also took direct aim at several of the president’s remarks during last week’s National Prayer Breakfast, including one in which Mr. Obama invoked the Crusades and the Inquisition to remind people that terrible acts have been carried out in the name of Christ.
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“Now the last I checked, the Crusades began in the 11th century,” Mr. Cruz said. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the president to stay in the current millennium.”
Though Mr. Obama didn’t directly name the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, that was recently attacked by terrorists in Paris seeking revenge for the publication’s caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, Mr. Obama also said that “just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t question those who would insult others in the name of free speech.”
“If in fact we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults and stand shoulder to shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are targets of such attacks,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Cruz said he found that a “rather stunning assault on free speech.”
“What the president was saying is that Charlie was wrong to put a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad on their magazine,” Mr. Cruz said. “And implicitly what that’s saying is the terrorists who murdered those journalists had a legitimate grievance.
“That is wrong, that is pernicious,” he said.
Mr. Cruz also commended Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for asking Muslim leaders last month to help fight extremist elements within the religion.
“Imagine what a different prayer breakfast it would have been if the president had stood up and commended President el-Sisi for having the courage to speak the truth,” Mr. Cruz said.
Mr. Cruz also recalled Mr. Obama’s referring to recent attacks at a Jewish deli in Paris a “bunch of folks” who were shot randomly. The White House later clarified that the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism.
“No sentient being believes what occurred there was random - they were shooting Jews because of their Jewish faith,” Mr. Cruz said.
Mr. Cruz also said the threat of a nuclear Iran could create an arms race in the region.
Earlier in the week, Mr. Obama said that diplomatic negotiations with Iran should play out and that if there isn’t a deal, he’d work with Congress to impose stronger sanctions against the country.
“But what’s the rush — unless your view is that it’s not possible to get a deal with Iran and it shouldn’t even be tested?” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Cruz said those three words — “what’s the rush” — “can sum up the entirety of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy.”
“The first and most important responsibility of the president is to be the commander-in-chief and to protect the national security, to protect the safety and the lives of Americans,” he concluded later. “Radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to this nation, and we need leadership to stand up and defend the United States of America.”