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Obama: Threat from Iraq militants could grow

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:35 a.m. HST, Jun 22, 2014

WASHINGTON >> Al-Qaida-inspired militants who have violently seized territory in Iraq could grow in power and destabilize other countries in the region, President Barack Obama said.

The Iraqi public will ultimately reject the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the extremist Sunni group threatening Iraq's government, but the group still represents a medium- and long-term threat to the United States, Obama said.

"We're going to have to be vigilant generally. Right now the problem with ISIS is the fact that they're destabilizing the country," Obama said, using a common acronym for the group. "That could spill over into some of our allies like Jordan."

The Sunni insurgency in Iraq and neighboring Syria is just one of an array of threats the U.S. must guard against, Obama said in an interview recorded Friday and airing Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

He pointed to the group Boko Haram in north Africa and al-Qaida groups in Yemen that he said also demand the attention of the U.S. and its partners.

"What we can't do is think that we're just going to play whack-a-mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up," Obama said. "We're going to have to have a more focused, more targeted strategy and we're going to have to partner and train local law enforcement and military to do their jobs as well."

Obama's comments came as U.S. lawmakers and officials within his own administration are grappling with the best way to address the growing insurgency in Iraq just years after American troops pulled out. As bloody sectarian violence breaks out once again in Iraq, a president who opposed the Iraq war and vowed to end it is finding the U.S. being lured back into the conflict by the deteriorating security situation.

Obama has announced plans to send 300 special operations forces into Iraq to train its military, but insists the U.S. military can't effectively quell the conflict unless Iraq's own Shiite-led government pursues a more inclusive approach that doesn't shun the Sunni minority.

The issue has divided Congress, with some lawmakers criticizing Obama for doing too little and others warning the return of armed troops to Iraq could be the first step toward pulling the U.S. back into the conflict.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said the unwillingness of Iraq's military to defend the city of Mosul begs the question of why the United State should.

"I'm not willing to send my son to defend that mess," Paul said Sunday on CNN.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she believes the U.S. needs to be talking to Iran because it can play a major role in helping to prevent a major war between Sunnis and Shiites. She also voiced concerns about the need to build up intelligence to help track recruits from Europe and the United States who have gone to the Middle East to participate in the wars there.

"There will be plots to kill Americans," she told CNN.

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jmarie wrote:
You have to be kidding me only not he's figured it out?
on June 22,2014 | 07:55AM
Anonymous wrote:
Profound comment. I'm sure you're way ahead of him- you should run for office.
on June 22,2014 | 11:43AM
HD36 wrote:
Rand Paul hit the nail on the head. The Iraq army isn't prepared to fight and die for its own country, so why should America? We've already sunk over $1 trillion into this rat hole. Obama's new $5 billion counter terrorist fund he mentioned at his speech at West Point does not exist.
on June 22,2014 | 08:23AM
Anonymous wrote:
Iraq has not failed in a vacuum. Dubya and his chickenhawks gambled that America would be able to set up an oil-rich lapdog state, like Iran in the 60s. To do it he completely gutted a functioning infrastructure and society. His gamble failed. We are reaping the whirlwind. The world has the war criminals Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to thank for this catastrophe. And the legions of right-wing sheep that backed them. But guess who we are starting to hear bleat about the situation on Fox? Wouldn't ya know. . .
on June 22,2014 | 11:35AM
HD36 wrote:
True enough but we shouldn't throw good money after bad. After all, it succeeded in Saudi Arabia and produced the petro dollar. They purchase US debt with any surplus and only sell in US dollars in exchange we provide technology and military defense for the Sunnis. It was only after Saddam tried to sell his oil in Euros did Bush attack.
on June 22,2014 | 12:19PM
Charliegrunt wrote:
What will it take, and when, for this administration to understand that the people of other countries have to fight for their own freedom. We cannot hand it to them. We have been in Iraq for almost two decades, spent the blood and lives of hundreds of thousands of our military, and trillions of our national treasure. Yet, the people in Iraq not only lack the will to make the effort and sacrifices, they cannot be trusted. The people our military train have frequently turned against them. Not only in Iraq, but Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well. Embed 300 SF with the Iraqis in separate locations? Get our people out of there while there is still time before we have another catastrophe. If they won't do that, I suggest that we demand that the President, SecDef Hagel and the JCS don their battle dress and lead by example. Ever hear that term before?
on June 22,2014 | 08:26AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
I think that's what Obama has said. No combat forces in the ground (with the exception of trainers and advisors).
on June 22,2014 | 11:22AM
Anonymous wrote:
Like the war criminal(s) who initiated this quagmire on false pretenses in the first place? Dubya valiantly defended the skies of Texas against the Viet Cong air force during the Vietnam conflict- that obviously did zero for his military judgement or value for human life.
on June 22,2014 | 11:24AM
Anonymous wrote:
"I'm not willing to send my son to defend that mess," Paul said Sunday on CNN. He should tell that to his fellow right-wingers- the red-state chickenhawk "patriots" who originated "that mess".
on June 22,2014 | 11:39AM
HD36 wrote:
Rand Paul, son of Libertarian Ron Paul, is not a typical right-winger neocon like John McCain. He believes in defending the country's borders, but not being the imperialist policeman of the world. The republican party who originated the Tea Party are not aligned with the Neocons. (war mongers)
on June 22,2014 | 12:24PM
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