By Bernie Becker - 06/29/14 11:43 AM EDT
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Sunday that he doesn’t think Iraq can settle its differences while Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in office, adding that it would be difficult even without Maliki around.
“Until Maliki goes, I don't think you have any chance at all of bringing that together, and I'm not sure if it will happen after that,” added Manchin, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Maliki has led a mostly Shiite government for years, and has been criticized for not reaching out more to Sunnis and Kurds. Maliki’s government began operations this weekend to try and take back cities in the northern part of the country that had been overtaken by Sunni insurgents.
Manchin said Sunday that he expected lawmakers could support air strikes against Iraq if there was a national security threat against the U.S. But he also said that he thought there would be skepticism about getting too deeply involved in Iraq, given how controversial the war there has been.
Plus, Manchin said that it’s difficult for the U.S. to figure out what to do in a clash between Maliki and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants.
“If military might or money would have solved that problem in that part of the world and we could have made it better, we'd have done it by now,” Manchin said.
“I can assure you, there's no appetite for us to get boots on the ground as we go back into that country any way, shape or form,” Manchin added.