US will not be the 'Iraqi Air Force,' Cardin says

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on Sunday defended President Obama’s renewed military campaign in Iraq, but said the mission must not be open-ended.

Cardin said the targeted strikes near the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil were justified to “prevent a genocide” at the hands of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters now holding thousands of refugees under siege on Mount Sinjar.

“What we will not do is become the Iraqi Air Force,” Cardin said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." “Obviously we got to be extremely concerned that we’re not drawn into that type of military action.”

ADVERTISEMENT
A day earlier, Obama declined to set a firm timetable on the airstrikes, saying the United States had an obligation to protect both the innocent people stranded atop the mountain and its own embassy, consulate and personnel in the region.
 
“I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem in weeks,” Obama said. “This is going to be a long-term project.”

Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, echoed Obama’s assertion that U.S. military involvement is not the answer to tensions between Iraqi factions.

He said the United States should instead focus on humanitarian and diplomatic channels, saying the air assault alone would not stop the militants.

“I don’t think we can take out ISIS, from a military point of view, from the use of our air strikes,” Cardin said. “That’s not going to solve the problem.”