Rep. McNerney’s thoughts on ISIL and U.S. military involvement

September 18, 2014

ISIL is a militant group that has been responsible for some of the worst violence and human rights violations in Iraq and Syria. Some of their activities are even bordering on genocide. The United States, along with other civilized nations, have a moral responsibility to take steps to stop them. Moreover, ISIL has executed innocent Americans and vows to attack our homeland.

Taking military action is the gravest responsibility of our government, and I take my role in helping decide our nation’s policy very seriously. I support the current plan to engage and ultimately destroy ISIL, but our actions will not be successful unless we can enlist an alliance of nations and organizations within the region that are fully and demonstrably committed to true democratic inclusion and are willing to fight for their own freedom. This will take time. Training potential allied military units in non-battlefield locations and providing appropriate arms to trained units can be very effective as was shown in the 1950’s when Britain trained Indonesian soldiers to fight communist insurgents. There is a risk in training and arming the military units under consideration, but good screening and oversight will help reduce risk. We must also continue to address the problems with nations whose citizens may be funding internationally recognized terrorist groups, including those who want to ally with us against ISIL.

In the meantime, the President must demonstrate America’s commitment to the region by using very limited and strategic American air power in conjunction with existing local military units to help prevent additional ISIL territorial gains. I do not support the involvement of American ground troops beyond their training mission, or the excessive use of American air power. Military actions of this nature are not needed and would almost certainly be counterproductive in the end.

While I supported the McKeon amendment, I want to urge my colleagues to consider the long-term effects of authorizing force: to our soldiers and their families, to innocent civilians, and to sustained stability in the Middle East. I also urge the Administration to use restraint as we continue to search for ways to strengthen collaboration and cooperation with regional allies as we work toward diplomatic and political solutions to problems in the area.