Republican lawmakers seized on Obama's comment on Thursday when he
said, "We don't have a strategy yet" for confronting the Islamic
State militant group, saying it suggested indecisiveness.
On Sunday, influential Democrats chimed in with their own critiques
of Obama's foreign policy, chiding him for being "too cautious" on
Syria, and urging him to do more to help Ukraine resist Russian
"I've learned one thing about this president, and that is he's very
cautious. Maybe, in this instance, too cautious," Democrat Dianne
Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC's
"Meet the Press" program on Sunday when asked about Obama's comments
about dealing with Islamic State militants.
Representative Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed
Services Committee, cautioned that any U.S. action in Syria had to
be carefully calibrated to avoid inadvertently supporting the regime
of Bashar al-Assad.
But he joined Republicans in urging Obama to provide more than just
"non-lethal" aid to the Ukrainian government as it resisted Russian
"We should be more forceful when supporting the Ukrainian
government," Smith told CBS's "Face the Nation" program. "I think
it's appropriate to up that aid to make them a more capable fighting
force, to resist this incursion."
The critical comments came as the Obama administration faced myriad
crises around the world, including a reported attack on an annex to
the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Libya. [ID:nL1N0R10F5]
In response to the criticism of Obama's comment on the lack of a
strategy, White House officials said it reflected the fact that the
Pentagon was still developing options for possible military action
U.S. officials emphasized that the administration does have a
broader strategy, and the military plan is only one element.
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The lawmakers statements reflect growing concern about potential
homeland security threats posed by hundreds of U.S., British and
Canadian citizens who have trained to fight in Syria.
But Obama may still have trouble winning support from a deeply
divided Congress for expanded military action against the Islamic
"His foreign policy is in absolute freefall," said Representative
Mike Rogers, who heads the House Intelligence Committee. "This
'don't do stupid stuff' policy isn't working,"
Republican Senator John McCain said U.S. action against Islamic
State would require more U.S. special operations forces, more air
controllers; more advisers to train the Iraqi military, which was
near collapse; and other countries to partner with.
But McCain said Obama was having trouble building a coalition to
take action against Islamic State militants after backing away from
strikes against Syria last year.
"These people ... are very cynical, particularly the Saudis and
others, because we said we were going to strike Syria, and then the
president reversed himself without even telling them."
(Additional reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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