Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain
Iraq vet lawmakers press Obama on ISIS strategy
Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Steve Russell (R-Okla.), both Iraq War veterans, are calling on President Obama to devise a "serious" political strategy for defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"The political strategy must achieve an objective we failed to secure after our military success in the Surge: a non-sectarian Iraqi government that endures," the pair, both members of the Armed Services Committee, wrote in a Time magazine op-ed on Tuesday.
"A serious political strategy puts the Iraqis on a path toward stability and ensures our troops' efforts won't be in vain," they added.
Moulton and Russell argued that Baghdad must accept some Kurdish autonomy, rein in Shiite militias and incorporate minority Sunnis into a broader government coalition to successfully counter ISIS.
The bipartisan plea comes as the president's proposed authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS and its allies languishes on Capitol Hill.
"Only when we have a clear strategy in Iraq should we focus our attention on providing the necessary congressional approval to implement it," according to Moulton and Russell.
"In other words, our strategy should dictate the breadth of our war authorization, not the other way around," they wrote.
The lawmakers acknowledged that ISIS is a national security threat that has "has brutally killed Americans abroad, and made clear its intention to kill Americans here at home."
"We must find a strategy to deal with it and other terrorist groups - but it has to be a long-term, sustainable strategy, built not just on isolated military victories but on long-term political unity against this generational threat to the world community." the duo said.
While the game plan "will inevitably" include a "military component," an overall political strategy is "far more important because only a political solution can guarantee we will not be back again four years from now fighting this war a third time."