Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 | 2 a.m.
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus and other members of Congress want a louder voice and clearer plan of action in the ongoing debate about U.S. military actions against Islamic State militants in Iraq.
Whether it is offering humanitarian aid, defeating the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or training the Iraqi government, the nation has to “decide what the mission is,” Titus said during an editorial board interview Tuesday with the Las Vegas Sun.
“You don’t go before the world without a strategy,” Titus said. “That’s not inspiring.”
The calls of the Nevada Democrat — who backs aid and airstrikes but opposes boots on the ground — align with congressional foreign policy leaders and follow reports that ISIS beheaded journalist Steven Sotloff. They also dovetail President Barack Obama’s mixed signals he’s been sending on the situation in Iraq. Last week, he admitted that his administration “did not have a strategy yet for dealing with ISIS in Iraq.” But Obama notified Congress on Monday that he ordered airstrikes and humanitarian relief efforts to help aid civilians living in the town of Amirli in Northern Iraq.
Since Obama authorized airstrikes against ISIS and humanitarian aid on Aug. 7, there have been more than 120 strikes. The provisions can only last for 60 days without congressional approval. Obama’s letter to Congress on Monday was his third since the authorization. Each letter has expressed different reasons for actions in Iraq.
On Tuesday, lawmakers sent a message that they want to play a role in the next round of decision making.
On a phone call to reporters from Israel, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel said that before the president “can continue beyond 60 days of doing airstrikes in Iraq or anyplace else, he would have to come to Congress and get Congress’ authority to continue.”
Engel was with Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and expressed frustration.
“We are scheduling a hearing upon our return and requesting the secretary of state (John Kerry) to present a plan, a strategy focused on rolling back ISIS, defeating ISIS through the use of airstrikes and the support of those with common interests,” Royce said.
Sotloff’s slaying was the second of its kind ISIS has taken credit for in the past month.
A video shows a veiled executioner wielding a knife and saying the president’s last name.
“I am back Obama, and I am back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.”