By Rebecca Shabad - 06/16/14 10:17 AM EDT
Former U.S. envoy to Iraq Paul Bremer on Monday said the United States might need to send American combat troops to Iraq to assist with airstrikes and to collect intelligence.
“We should not be ruling things out,” Bremer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” "Now, I’m not in favor of sending American combat troops into Iraq at the moment. But I can well imagine that we would have to have some troops on the ground. For example, collecting intelligence, some special operators, helping the fire control and identifying targets for airstrikes from both manned fighter-bombers and for drones.”
“In fact, I don’t see how those military objectives would be achieved without having some people on the ground,” added Bremer, who was the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq at the beginning of the 2003 invasion.
Asked if Vice President Biden’s proposed strategy from 2006 of a partitioned Iraq could be successful now, Bremer said it’s a “very bad idea,” and he said he hopes it’s not the outcome.
Dividing Iraq, Bremer explained, would provoke a “regional war.”
Bremer wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal published Monday advocating that the U.S. get involved in Iraq as Sunni militants gain ground.
On “Morning Joe,” Bremer was asked why Iraq cannot figure out the crisis for themselves.
“Because there’s no one there who can do it. There’s no other country that can do it,” but the U.S., he said.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who leads a Shiite government, must develop a “broader, more politically responsive and representative government,” Bremer said.
The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 was a “big mistake,” he added, because the U.S. lost its political influence there.
“We have two very important interests — that Iraq not become a base of operation for the world’s worst terrorist group, and the political structure of the region that has been in place for 100 years does not collapse, threatening our allies,” he said. “Those are American interests.”