Top congressional Democrats and Republicans agreed Sunday that President Obama is not winning the fight against the Islamic State, with one of his top House supporters acknowledging a “stalemate” at best.
The criticism from Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was not unexpected following the Islamic State last week taking over the Iraq city of Ramadi, then pushing into the Syrian city of Palmyra.
“Clearly ISIS has gained momentum … as we’ve seen the ground that they have gained both in Iraq and Syria,” Gabbard, an Army combat veteran who has criticized Obama for not calling Islamic State “Islamic extremists,” told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, acknowledged the U.S.-effort to stop the Islamic State appears stuck.
“I don’t think we’re winning, but I wouldn’t say we’re losing either,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I think it’s something of a neutral stalemate.”
He also called the Ramadi loss “a very serious setback,” while acknowledging the complexity of aligning militarily with the region’s varying religious sects and suggesting an unchecked Islamic State becomes more of a threat to “our national security.”
Schiff introduced legislation earlier this year to give Obama the legal foundation to continue to use military force — specifically air strikes and the training of regional forces — to defeat the Islamic State.
Obama told The Atlantic magazine that the Ramadi takeover was a “tactical setback” but maintains the United States and its allies are not losing the larger campaign to stop the group.
“I disagree with the president on this,” Gabbard said.
She also urged Obama to supply the Kurdish Peshmerga and Sunni tribesmen in Iraq, whom she said are “literally begging, for arms, heavy weapons and ammunition” to defeat the Islamic State and protect their land and families.
Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said on CNN about the president’s apparent strategy: “You are not losing and you are not winning because we are not really engaged in this fight.
“At some point, we’re going to have to understand that the goal is the destruction of ISIS. …We have to understand that every day that goes by where we don’t push this cancer back … the cost of liberating Iraq or the cost of defeating this cancer is only going to increase.”