Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, one of Congress’ most hawkish members, called on President Obama on Sunday to show greater leadership in the international fight to eliminate Islamic State and to present a more comprehensive plan to eliminate such terror groups in the Middle East.
“The president has to articulate the challenge and what we need to do to meet it,” McCain, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, told “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s what has to be explained to the American people. And I think they will follow.”
His remarks follow the startling rise of Islamic State in northeast Syria through northern Iraq, and, most recently, the group's beheading of American journalist James Foley -- allegedly in retaliation for U.S. air strikes in Iraq.
McCain also continued his criticism of the administration’s foreign policy -- calling it “feckless" -- but expressing optimism that tough talk last week by top White House and U.S. military officials will lead to a more aggressive, comprehensive approach toward stopping the militant group Islamic State.
McCain said he hoped the comments -- including Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying Thursday that Islamic State has an "apocalyptic” vision -- will lead to the changes.
“But so far [the administration] has not laid out a strategy,” said McCain, a former Navy officer and Vietnam prisoner of war.
Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the United States and its Arab allies need to engage in a more "robust campaign" against Islamic State’s safe havens in Syria.
“They are one plane ticket away from U.S. shores,” he said. “This is an opportunity for the president to take a step back (and) change his presidential guidance on how we disrupt terrorism around the world, including al Qaeda that has been slowing down. We have missed dozens and dozens of opportunities to take really bad people off the battlefield in the recent -- last two years."
McCain also suggested that if the president goes to Congress to ask for additional authority to launch air strikes in Syria, he will have to present a clear, convincing case to get the votes.
He also said he and South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fellow member of the Armed Services Committee, will propose a plan when Congress returns from August break to repeal so-called sequestration, which has put tight limits on the defense budget.