US senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called Sunday for 100,000 foreign soldiers, most from Sunni regional states but also including Americans, to fight the Islamic State group in Syria.
Both McCain, the chair of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and Graham, one of its members, sharply criticised current US strategy as insufficient and unsuccessful in defeating the jihadists.
That strategy has consisted of carrying out air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria in support of local ground forces, which have also received weapons and training.
“I think 100,000 would be (the) total requirement,” McCain told journalists in Baghdad when asked about the size of the anti-IS force he and Graham were advocating for Syria.
“That would not be hard for Egypt; it would be hard for Saudis, it would be hard for some of the smaller countries,” but Turkey could also provide forces, McCain said.
Saudi Arabia is already involved in a war in Yemen, while Egypt is battling an insurgency and Turkey is more concerned with Kurdish rebels than IS.
The force would also include some 10,000 American soldiers “providing capability the Arabs don’t possess,” said Graham, adding: “When’s the last time an Arab army’s manoeuvered?”
The two senators also called for the number of American forces in Iraq to be increased to around 10,000.
That figure would include special forces to conduct “more of the raids you saw not long ago,” Graham said.
American special forces accompanied Kurdish troops on an operation in Iraq last month during which one US soldier was killed.
“This is different than the last two wars,” said Graham, referring to the 14-year war in Afghanistan and the nearly nine-year conflict in Iraq, during which the group that became IS was founded.
“This time (it would) be a large regional army with a small Western component. The last two wars have been large Western components with a very small regional force,” he said.
But even if this force were formed and defeated IS, it would then have to occupy part of Syria, spelling another potentially lengthy deployment of American ground troops in the Middle East.
“In my construct, it’d be an international holding force, Sunni Arabs would be holding that part of Syria where they’re welcomed,” after it was cleared of IS, Graham said.
But “the bottom line is, the whole international community would have to be part of holding,” he said.
A veteran teacher explains why Trump is incapable of learning
While dyslexia has been mentioned now and then as one of the reasons Donald Trump is so ignorant of what it takes to govern in a free society, I want to explore it as foundational to his inability to learn and grow while in office—and also as a way to link disparate troubling elements in his makeup.
White House pulls new FEMA nominee for barroom brawl — but not for his boss’ bribery
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow began her Wednesday show detailing that Jeff Byard, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead FEMA, has withdrawn his name from nomination because of an "altercation" previously reported.
Already Trump's FEMA is having problems because of the lead FEMA officials being named in serious bribery scandals. Byard's boss, in particular, is under a 10-count indictment. To make matters worse, a former deputy is also under indictment, but for a completely different case involving a 2013 Navy scandal.
"Any mystery around that part of the guy’s past would have been cleared up this past year in August when he was indicted by a federal grand jury for his alleged involvement in that Navy bribery scheme," Maddow reported. "He was arrested thereafter."
Right-wing activists call on Mitch McConnell to stop blocking election security bills
On Wednesday, CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing renewed pressure to take up election security legislation, from a pair of unlikely sources: Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon.
Norquist — who once famously said that he wanted to slash government to a size where he could "drown it in a bathtub" — called for hand-marked paper ballots, and urged Congress to pass something similar to the bipartisan Secure Elections Act, which would have given states incentives to switch to secure voting methods and promoted data-sharing to identify threats. The measure was first introduced in 2017 by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (D-OK), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), but never came to a vote.