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September 22, 2014

Editorial: Escalate or stand pat in Iraq

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Posted: Monday, August 11, 2014 6:30 pm

Republicans and Democrats in Washington are hopelessly divided on matters of policy, so expecting them adopt more agreeable stances on the United States’ re-entry into Iraq is a waste of time.

Proof arrived Sunday, when teams of Republicans and Democrats appeared on the morning news programs and quickly assumed their positions: The GOP on one side, Democrats on another. Overlap didn’t exist. But predictability did.

Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, played the role of war hawks well, calling for more and stronger U.S. involvement in Iraq as well as Syria to tamp down the violence being caused by the radical Muslim group ISIS.

“We need to go on the offense,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “There is no force within the Mideast that can neutralize or contain or destroy ISIS without at least American air power.”

Democrats disagreed, as if on cue, sticking to the script outlined thus far by President Barack Obama, whose decision to send humanitarian aid as well as limited airstrikes to the region last week reignited Americans’ fears about beginning yet another foreign war — even with Obama’s reassurances that ground troops won’t be used.

“Neither the American people nor Congress are in the business of wanting to escalate this conflict beyond where it is today,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Only Iraq can save Iraq. There is so much that we can do to help the Iraqis help themselves, but ultimately, they have to save their own country.”

So soon after America’s long war in Iraq ended, Congress is again divided over how best to use the U.S. military in a nation in which, one way or another, we’ve been in for more than two decades. Isolationism, aid or military involvement: what’s right for the United States? That argument has been a cornerstone of Capitol Hill as long as it’s existed.

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