Rogers: Obama’s inertia on Syria-Islamic State part of foreign policy plan empowering rivals

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Sunday that President Obama’s inertia on whether to launch airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria is part of an overall foreign policy failure that is empowering China, North Korea, Russia and other rival nations.

“It’s all related,” Rogers, R-Mich., told “Fox News Sunday." “The world sees the United States as withdrawn.”

Rogers said the president’s apparent disengagement or slow response is the reason China has engaged U.S. pilots and Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved into eastern Ukraine without fear of consequence.

“U.S. foreign policy is in free fall,” he said. “Traditional allies are saying maybe the United States is not the best to lead us.”

The president faces a big test later this week when he travels to Europe for a NATO summit where he hopes to build a coalition to stop Islamic State, the terror group formerly known as ISIS, and other militant groups in the Middle East.

Rogers told Fox News he doesn’t believe White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest when he said last week that military options are “still being developed.”

Ernest's remarks followed the president saying the U.S. still doesn't have a strategy for Islamic State and Syria.

Rogers said the president was presented with a range of military options at the start of the 2011 uprising in Syria to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad, a movement that gave rise to Islamic State.

“There have been plans on the table,” Rogers said. “The president just didn’t want to get engaged. That is a decision. That is foreign policy.”

Rogers also said the surprising and powerful surge of Islamic State -- across the Syrian border and into northern Iraq -- reached a critical point longer before the group earlier this month beheaded American journalist James Foley.

He said the president’s plan to build a coalition isn’t “wrong,” just “late” because the U.S. now has fewer, safer options in the efforts to stop Islamic State before it strikes on American soil.

Rogers estimated that “hundreds” of Americans have already traveled or trained with Islamic State at least once.