“The enduring transformation that has to take place here is not going to take place if the United States just comes in and were to knock out ISIL and that’s it, go away. Not gonna happen,” Kerry said during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a hearing about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“We could do that, actually. We have that capacity, but we’re not asking to do that, nor are they [other Middle Eastern countries] asking us to do that, because I think they understand that the implications of that would be actually to aid in the recruitment to create a bigger problem than we face today,” he continued.
Kerry was responding to questions from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who expressed concern that a large-scale ground combat initiative by the United States could effectively pit the West against the Islamic State and end up bolstering the terrorist group’s recruiting efforts. At the time, the committee was considering President Obama’s request for authorization to use military force against the Islamic State.
“I’m looking for metrics in terms of, if we all agree with the proposition of this needs to be a region policing itself with the assistance of the United States, tell me what that means in terms of what ground troop levels could be appropriate or inappropriate,” Kaine said, pointing out that the United States is responsible for 80 percent of the 2,800 airstrikes conducted so far against the Islamic State.
“The airstrikes is not the region with the United States helping out a little bit. We’ve done 80 percent of the airstrikes. The airstrikes is U.S.,” Kaine continued.
“This has got to be the region’s fight against its own terrorism, and if they’re willing to be all-in, then we should help, but if it gets to the point where we have to contemplate a significant number of ground troops, it almost means that it’s been lost from the beginning if the region won’t weigh in to battle their own terrorist threat,” Kaine said.
“There’s sort of no amount of ground troops we could put in Iraq or Syria to win the battles there. We can keep Americans safe here, but we can’t create a recruiting bonanza for ISIL,” he added.
“If it’s just us, that’s how they grow, and that’s what they want, and we’re not getting suckered into that,” Kerry said in his response.
Kerry also hailed the coalition of other Middle Eastern countries allied against the Islamic State, saying that “the best thing that can happen here is in fact what’s happening now.”