The nation’s top diplomat insisted Sunday that the U.S. was “on the road” to defeating ISIS, even as the Obama administration came under fire for not making sufficient progress in taking on the bloodthirsty terrorist group.
“The coalition is strong, more committed than ever,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview airing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” We are on the road to (winning the battle against ISIS). I think the evidence is not in my saying it. But it’s in the facts of what is happening.”
“The resounding reaffirmations of commitment throughout the Arab world have been heartening and strong,” Kerry added, explaining that “22% of the populated areas that they held have been taken back already. And that’s without launching what we would call a major offensive.”
Kerry also hit back against criticism that military progress, driven by the U.S.-led coalition, was moving too slowly.
“There’s a lot more to do, (but) we have said, since the beginning, this is a long-term operation, not a short-term one,” he said. “We believe everything, including the governing process in Iraq itself, is moving in the right direction.”
But, Kerry explained, gains will only be kept if the “Iraqi army itself” is retrained.
“There have to be ground troops involved in order to win this victory. And it is clear they’re not going to be American. They’re not going to be British. They’re not going to be French and European,” he said. “They are going to be Iraqi. And that’s the way the Iraqis want it. But they’re not ready to move yet. And it would be a great mistake, strategically, for them to move before they are ready.”
A growing number of lawmakers across the world, however, appeared to be growing impatient with a perceived lack of headway against the terrorists, with many of them calling for further U.S. assistance to various factions.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a frequent critic of the Obama administration, played up the readiness of Iraqi Kurds to contribute to the fight, but demanded that the U.S. send them better weaponry.
“We have boots on the ground already, with the Kurds,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The Peshmerga are trained, effective fighters,” he added, referring to the proper name of Iraqi Kurdish military forces.
“But our government is not providing military weapons effectively to the Kurds. Instead, they’re shuttling it all to Baghdad, and Baghdad is very slow in getting it to the Kurds,” Cruz said. “We need to arm the Kurds and we need to use the Peshmerga as boots on the ground. They’re effective. They’re ready.”
Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, meanwhile, said he’s “very discouraged” by both the White House and Congress for not having approved a formal war authorization for the actions taken against ISIS, even though the campaign has already been going on for six months.
“If we’re going to ask people to risk their lives, than Congress ought to do our jobs and put our thumbprint on this mission on and say it is in the national interest,” Kaine said on CNN’s “State of the Union” about the fact that U.S. involvement in Syria and Iraq against ISIS has been occurring without a formal war authorization.
“It is not a pretty sight,” Kaine said, adding that passing a resolution could provide clarity and help accelerate gains.
Despite the suggestion of fading progress against ISIS, U.S. allies pressed with their assault Sunday, as Jordan’s air force chief disclosed Sunday that the country had launched 56 airstrikes against militant stronghold in the days since ISIS militants released a gruesome video depicting the execution of a captured Jordanian pilot.