“We should declare war and harness all of the power that the United States can bring to bear both diplomatic and military, of course, to be able to take out ISIS,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said.
A growing group of Republican presidential candidates beat the drums of war Sunday in response to the horrific Paris attacks, with many blasting the White House for not doing enough to combat ISIS and pushing the U.S.to amp up its involvement in Syria and Iraq.
“We should declare war and harness all of the power that the United States can bring to bear both diplomatic and military, of course, to be able to take out ISIS,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” of what he would do as President to fight the terrorist group whose attacks in Paris Friday killed at least 129 and injured scores of others.
When asked if he would put “boots on the ground” in Syria, Bush responded emphatically.
“Absolutely. And it ought to be designed by our military without their hands tied,” he said, adding that he would also push for a no-fly zone over Syria and arm the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq.
“This is a threat to Western civilization. There’s no way to deny this,” Bush said. “And containing ISIS isn’t going to work.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham was even more direct with his policy prescription, warning of another “9/11 … coming from Syria” if the U.S. doesn’t take significant new military action in the region.
“There’s a 9/11 coming and it’s coming from Syria if we don’t disrupt their operations coming from Syria,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
“You’re only going to win this war if you go on offense,” the Republican lawmaker said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “There’s a 9/11 coming and it’s coming from Syria if we don’t disrupt their operations coming from Syria.”
“Without American boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, we’re going to be hit at home,” Graham warned before suggesting that France lead the fight.
“I hope the French will invoke Article 5,” Graham said on Sunday. “They should — the world should be at war with ISIL.”
Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an attack on one member of the alliance is considered an attack on all members.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio agreed with Graham’s assessment, but was more careful in describing the level of U.S. involvement he would recommend in any military action.
Bullet holes are seen in the terrace windows of Cafe Bonne Biere, as people lay flowers and candles in front, in Paris. At least 129 people were killed in a series of attacks in Paris on November 13.
Rubio called for “significant” American involvement, but wouldn’t commit to any particular number of troops on the ground.
“I would say this, I think that we need to begin to work more closely, for example, with the Sunni tribes in Iraq, who do not want to work under the thumb of the central government in Iraq,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’ve worked with them in the past.”
Even Democrats added their names to the list of lawmakers recommending more action.
“The reality is even the best intelligence will not stop a determined enemy that adapts to our defenses,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on “ABC’s This Week.” “And ISIS has adapted.”
“The implications are this is not just an intelligence failure; it’s a failure also of a coalition campaign,” he said of the Paris attack, “because we have allowed ISIS to have sanctuary in Syria and Iraq, with too much time to plan and plot, too much resources to be directed against us.”
White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the U.S. ‘stands ready to do whatever is necessary’ to help France.
“We are a harder target, a harder target to reach, but we know that ISIS aspires to attack us here in the United States as well,” he said. “We’re going to have to further constrain its space.”
Several current and former U.S. officials from the intelligence community echoed those warnings Sunday, saying that the next ISIS attack could be on American soil if the White House doesn’t revise its approach to the region.
“ISIS for the last year has been trying to build an attack capability in Western Europe. I think this is the first manifestation of that effort and of that success and eventually they will try to build a similar attack capacity in the United States,” Michael Morell, a CIA deputy director under Obama from 2010 to 2013, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“In the last two weeks, we’ve had an ISIS affiliate in the Sindai apparently bring down an airliner … and we’ve had the second largest terrorist attack in Western Europe since 2004,” he continued.
“I think when you put those things together … I think it’s not crystal clear that our strategy our policy vis a vis ISIS, is not working and it’s time to look at something else,” Morell said.
People gather at a makeshift memorial in front of Le carillon restaurant — one of the site of the attacks in Paris.
When asked what that “something else” might be, Morell suggested that the U.S. may have to end up working together with Bashar Assad, the brutal Syrian dictator that the Obama administration has refused to support, to fight ISIS.
“The question of whether Assad needs to go or whether he’s part of the solution, we need to look at again. Clearly he’s part of the problem, but he may also be part of the solution,” Morell said.
“An agreement where he stays around for a while and the Syrian army supported by the coalition takes on ISIS, may be the best result here,” he said.
The chairmen of the Senate Intelligence committee, meanwhile, blasted the White House for not having any strategy at all when it came to taking on ISIS.
“We’ve got to have a strategy. We don’t have a strategy in Syria as it relates to (ISIS), Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said on the same program.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called for ‘significant’ American involvement in Syria, but wouldn’t commit to any particular number of troops on the ground.
“You can’t fight ISIS unless you are willing to put a strategy together that deals with the failure of Libya, the problems in the Sinai, Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan-Pakistan region,” he said.
Despite the raw emotions emerging from France and the increased rhetoric from U.S. lawmakers, the White House on Sunday appeared to double down on its current airstrikes-focused strategy in Syria and suggested it will wait for France to take the lead in responding to the attacks before taking any other actions.
“The French will make a decision about whether to invoke Article 5,” Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We stand ready to do whatever is necessary.”
“I think we would stand shoulder to shoulder with France in whatever decision they make,” Rhodes added during a separate appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
“In any case, we’re going to be cooperating with them militarily going forward,” added Rhodes, who went on to rule out any kind of sustained ground campaign in Syria.
“We do not believe that there is a solution to the challenge in Syria or Iraq that involves significant numbers of U.S. combat troops going in,” he said.
“I think what you are going to see is continued intensification of the air campaign, the type of leadership strikes that we’ve taken in recent days, as against Jihadi John in Syria, more direct equipment and arming of opposition forces that are fighting on the ground in both Syria and Iraq,” Rhodes added.