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June 14, 2014

Reps blame fighting on Prime Minister

STILLWATER, Okla. — MIDWEST CITY — The United States will continue to have a worldwide influence, but must determine if good foreign policy means recreating the world in its own image or working closely with allies with vastly different forms of government and beliefs.

Oklahoma’s U.S. representatives Frank Lucas, Tom Cole, James Lankford, Markwayne Mullin and Jim Bridenstine looked at the United States’ influence on the world in light of bloodshed in Iraq. The five attended a congressional roundtable with members of the press Saturday at the Oklahoma Press Association’s annual convention.

The United States has supported both policies in the past, Lucas said.

Prior to President Jimmy Carter’s administration, the United States was more interested in creating allies without concern for how those nations operated internally.

“We didn’t necessarily care what they did at home as long as they left us alone,” Lucas said.

From the Carter administration forward, the United States worked to spread democracy and capitalism throughout the world.

“We had a more idealistic perspective from Jimmy Carter forward,” Lucas said. “Is it possible to make every place on this planet look like Oklahoma or the United States? It may or may not be, but you have to think about that.”

The instability in Iraq continued Saturday evening. An Al-Qaeda splinter group known as ISIS has seized a large section of land in northern Iraq, and is threatening to advance toward Baghdad, Iraq’s capital.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Iraqi soldiers will challenge the splinter group in Samarra.

“Samarra will be the starting point, the gathering station of our troops to cleanse every inch that was desecrated by footsteps of those traitors,” al-Maliki said in the broadcast.

All five Oklahoma representatives attached some blame for the instability in Iraq to President Barack Obama for not insisting Iraq leaders allow the U.S. to keep a limited number of troops in Iraq.

Cole did say most of the blame lies with al-Malaki for not building a coalition government with the Sunnis and Kurds.

“You’ve got to accommodate these other groups. He has totally failed to do that,” Cole said.

The Shiite-based military will make a stand around Baghdad.

Mosul and other cities in ISIS control were Sunni strongholds, and security forces weren’t motivated to keep control of those cities, Cole said.

The United States moved the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush into the Persian Gulf, bringing the potential of U.S. missile attacks and airstrikes in Iraq.

Bridenstine, who fought in Iraq during Operation Shock and Awe and Operation Southern Watch, said airstrikes would be ineffective.

“What we are seeing now is an insurgency. You don’t beat an insurgency through airstrikes,” Bridenstine said.

“You have to beat an insurgency with a counter-insurgency.”

American policy should focus on how a counter-insurgency can be achieved – not airstrikes that will punish and kill Iraqis, he said.

“Limited airstrikes will not squash the insurgency,” he said.

“It won’t. It’s going to require a lot of ground fighting. If the Iraqi government is committed to that, then there can be some discussions. What I am not seeing right now is that commitment.”

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