Interviews

Report: Italy urging NATO to join fight against ISIS

Reaction from former Pentagon spokesman JD Gordon

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 16, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Currently, only a handful of European countries are providing military action for the anti-ISIS coalition. So, with Italy reportedly calling for NATO to step up, former Pentagon spokesman J.D. Gordon says things may be looking up.

Well, J.D., OK, the Italians want help from NATO. But how many European countries are equipped and willing to put troops on the ground anywhere in the Middle East?

J.D. GORDON, FOUNDER, J.D. GORDON COMMUNICATIONS: Hi, Stuart. Thanks for having me on the show.

Well, they're certainly capable of doing it. It's just if they have the political will. Italy could launch airstrikes against Libya from their base in Sigonella, Sicily. I used to be the spokesman in Naples, Italy, for our Navy installation and NATO installation there.

They could do it easily. So it's just a matter of finding that political will. Right now, it's just the British, the French, the Dutch and the Belgians who have conducted raids inside of Iraq, but of the 2,000 airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition, 80 percent of those are U.S. So, NATO ought to be doing a lot more.

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: What about troops on the ground? What about guys in uniforms firing guns in anger? Is any European country prepared to do that?

GORDON: Not yet. I think they need to, though. Right now, the U.S. has about 3,000 troops in Iraq, if you count the U.S. Embassy, the people who are providing security there.

But the Europeans have just sent really small amounts of trainers there. You look at the Germans. They have sent 40 people to help the Kurdish Peshmerga, and they have sent things like weapons and ammunition to the Kurdish Peshmerga. But if you look at the European footprint, it's been really minimal.

You know, Stuart, the U.S. is about a third of the NATO population. Yet we provide two-thirds of the military funding. It's time that NATO really step up. In particular, our European allies have to do more.

VARNEY: What do you make of Egypt now targeting ISIS in Libya? That's an extension of this war essentially, brings in Egypt and brings in Libya.

GORDON: I think it's a positive development.

Look, President Al-Sisi knows that the Coptic Christians have been targeted by these Islamists. He's not going to take it anymore. I'm really pleased to see Egypt launch airstrikes into Libya to try to solve the problem right where it is. So, it's a step in the right direction.

VARNEY: But here's my point. Europe, it seems to me, is largely now a pacifist continent. Do you think that the threat from ISIS now very much on Europe's doorstep, is that a big enough threat, is it imminent enough for the Europeans to start really talking tough and actually doing something?

GORDON: Stuart, I think you're right. I think it was a wakeup call to see the attacks in Paris and just over the weekend in Copenhagen.

I think the Europeans are waking up to the threat from radical Islam. I hope they show the political will to actually take the fight to the Islamic State and other radical Islamic terrorists because thousands of Europeans have actually gone to Iraq and Syria to fight as part of the Islamic State.

VARNEY: OK.

J.D., I want your judgment. Do you think that Europe will step up now?

GORDON: I think they're starting to.

And I think it's a matter that has to be fought in their capitals. It's a battle of ideas, because the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists have a very good propaganda to basically deter Europeans from doing it. So if the folks who are really concerned about European security step up to the plate, yes, they will get it done.

VARNEY: J.D. Gordon, thank you very much.

GORDON: Thanks, Stuart.

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