Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) said on Wednesday that he would support U.S. troops directly confronting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants on the battlefield.
“I don’t want to see us put in a million soldiers, spend 10 years, a trillion dollars, trying to create a democracy where one hasn’t existed,” Pataki told hosts Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day.”
“But send in troops, destroy the training centers, destroy their recruitment centers, destroy the area where they are looking to plan to attack us here, and then get out,” said Pataki, a possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate.
“And leave a little note behind, ‘you come back, so will we,’ ” he added. “No 10-year war, no mass of casualties, but protect American lives before we get attacked here.”
Pataki’s remarks follow ISIS’s capture of Ramadi in Iraq last Sunday.
He criticized the Obama administration on Wednesday for failing to stem the terrorist group’s momentum there and in other nations.
“This administration doesn’t have a strategy,” Pataki said.
“And how can you lead when you don’t have a concept of what you are doing?” he asked.
“Think back a year ago when ISIS emerged as beyond the JV team and the president said we’re going to degrade and destroy them over time using the strategy we’ve used in Yemen,” Pataki said.
“Yemen just fell to Houthi Shia radical Islamists,” he added, a reference to the Houthi rebel takeover of Yemen last year. “That’s not the right strategy.”
“I take this a little personal,” Pataki said of Ramadi’s fall last weekend. “I have two sons, both of whom served,” he said.
“My older son was a Marine in Anbar for a year during the time of the surge, and to see the gains lost because we pulled every last solider out and created this vacuum, I think it’s tragic for Iraq, but more importantly, it’s dangerous us,” Pataki said.
Pataki argued that 9/11 made the fight against radical Islam “our war.”
Pataki additionally called on 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to explain why she supported the complete withdrawal of U.S. ground forces in Iraq in 2012.
“Why don’t we ask her, knowing what she knows now, why she agreed to pull every single last American troop out of Iraq in 2012?”
Pataki also said he would announce his decision on whether or not to run during an event next week in Exeter, N.H.
“You have to appeal to, yes, the Republican base, but also independents, conservative Democrats, to minority groups, to others who have not traditionally voted Republican enough,” Pataki said of successful presidential campaigns.
“And I know I can do that,” he said.