“If you destroy one power in the Middle East, you empower the other side, and the four groups that are fighting ISIS now are in many ways nearly as evil as ISIS itself, and in fact, those who are fighting against ISIS today on the ground have killed far more Americans than ISIS has,” said Sherman, top Democrat on the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee.
Obama is planning to lay out his strategy for defeating ISIS on Wednesday.
Sherman said Obama should explain to the country “how complex the situation is and how you cannot just waive a magic wand and have ISIS disappear,” because, “the destruction of ISIS “doesn’t mean that truth and justice just emerges from the soil of the Middle East.”
In an interview on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” Sherman was asked what strategy he would endorse if he were advising the president.
“I would say his cautious approach has been a good one, and caution is called for,” Sherman said. “I think he has to respond to his critics who oversimplify the situation dramatically and play to an American public that’s used to watching old Western movies where you have only the black hat and the white hat in the Western movie.
“So if you kill the guy with the black hat, the white hat rides off into the sunset with the school marm. Assad is not a school marm. Al-Nusra is not a school marm. The forces that will rise if ISIS is destroyed are nearly as evil as ISIS,” he added.
Sherman said he hopes the president “will put Congress on the spot and ask for an authorization to use force, because as important as it is to work for good governance in the Middle East, we’ve got to respect the United States Constitution.”
“It is not a given that our constitutional structure can be ignored and degraded and pulled apart and that somehow the society will be able to face tougher times than we have now without it completely unraveling,” he said.
In Sherman’s opinion, authorization to use force would include “air power alone” for a period of two to three years “with expedited procedures to reauthorize as this goes forward.”
“The president would still have the authority he has under the war powers act to conduct up to 60 day incursions on the ground, and the only real use for those that I see is to rescue a pilot,” he said.
“I realize that with Special Forces and spotters and whatever we might be more effective in our bombing campaign, but at this point, I don’t think Congress is going to authorize the use of ground troops, and we need to draw the line,” Sherman added.
Sherman predicted that ISIS would not be destroyed in just a few weeks or months.
“I think you have to explain to the American people you can’t always get what you want immediately at a low cost,” he said.
ISIS is already being degraded, Sherman said.
“ISIS was on a roll. They had one military victory after military victory, and there were people talking about them taking Baghdad and Erbil. Now we see that they have had some substantial losses in Iraq,” he said.
ISIS has not suffered losses – and in fact had some gains – in Syria, Sherman noted, “but we’re not bombing in Syria.”
“But we saved the Yazidi community. We protected the Mosul dam. We protected … the Shiite Turkmen, and we protected our friends the Kurds. So in four different important areas, ISIS has been rolled back and defeated, and I wish someone on FOX News would give the president a little credit for that,” Sherman said.