from Politics, Power, and Preventive Action and Center for Preventive Action

What Would Air Strikes in Iraq Achieve?

June 13, 2014

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Demands by current policymakers to use military force are rarely accompanied by a specific objective of what it is intended to achieve. In the binary debate about what to do in Iraq, several policymakers have called for air strikes with some assertion of why and what they would accomplish. See below for an early collection and judge for yourself the validity of their claims.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “I think American airpower is the only hope to change the battlefield equation in Iraq.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “There is no scenario where we can stop the bleeding in Iraq without American air power.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): “[Airstrikes] might be the only way we can give some support so they can regroup, so the Iraqi Army can get itself together.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): “They’ve suggested maybe air strikes. That’s something I think would be more receptive if we think that we can get the rest of the United Nations involved with us to try to help them defend themselves.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL): “U.S. should consider use of drones with hellfire missiles if Iraq nears collapse.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): “We’ve got to get involved with airstrikes, stiffening the spines of the Iraqis.”

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA): “If we don’t want to see an Iraq with large swaths of territory under militant control, and we shouldn’t, we should answer Iraqi requests to target these al-Qaeda terrorists with drone strikes.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “We should explore all the options in air power, get a team over there to advise them.” However, McCain later countered this statement, saying, “I am not calling for air strikes.”

(3PA: Interestingly, McCain is not calling for air strikes even while he describes Iraq as an “existential threat to the security of the United States of America.”)

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD): "I think we ought to use the same formula that we used when we took out Moammar Gadhafi in Libya…We have unique resources that no other country has, especially in the air. Intelligence and the ability to find where things are. I think the governments need to get together, because this is getting very serious."

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI): “I would not be opposed to strikes—if it’s part of a holistic plan.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): “We will be weighing all options. I’m not ruling anything in or out at this point.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): “We are going to have to take some sort of action against this radical group. That is not the choice before us. The choice before us will be whether we take action now, or we take action later.”

More on:

United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions

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Terrorism and Counterterrorism

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