House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement in response to the President’s speech on ISIL: 

“ISIL poses an existential threat to our allies in the region and, if left unchecked, it will become a direct threat to the United States. These cowards have already killed two unarmed American journalists and thousands of innocent Muslims. Their allegiance is to a perverted vision of Islam that justifies the killing of innocent people and this threat must be confronted in a holistic and forceful way. Tonight, the President laid out an aggressive and appropriate course of action to address the threat posed by ISIL.

“This is a fight against violent extremists – it is not a conflict between Sunnis, Shiites and the West - and any action against ISIL must be supported by a broad coalition of nations, which the President is aggressively pulling together. The Sunni countries in the region must play a key role in confronting this Sunni extremist group. 

“Any military action must also be complimented by a political strategy that leads to the inclusion of marginalized Sunni populations in Iraq. ISIL is primarily comprised of Sunni extremists, but it does not represent the beliefs and aspirations of the vast majority of the Sunni population. To undermine ISIL and achieve a lasting solution, the government in Iraq must include Sunnis. I applaud the Administration for continuing to make this a center piece or their strategy and I am encouraged by recent progress. Much more work remains to be done on this front.  

“ISIL is not confined to historically recognized boarders and any strategy to defeat ISIL must recognize that reality. That is why I support the Administration’s request to support moderate Syrian fighters.  If we are to be successful in Syria as well as Iraq, we must have a capable partner on the ground. At this point in time we do not have that partner and so we should be working to develop the capabilities of moderate elements within Syria. 

“We must also be working to counter ISIL’s extremist message. This is not just a kinetic war – it is an ideological war. The distorted and manipulated version of Islam that groups like ISIL espouse must be countered and met with truth. 

“This is an extraordinarily difficult and complex problem that requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. In our limited involvement thus far, the U.S. military has had success in helping our partners on the ground push back ISIL. In Erbil, our Kurdish partners have resisted ISIL’s offensives. They have also pushed back ISIL in Mosul. Last week, we saw the Iraqis fight off ISIL in Amerli with the support of US airpower. There is a formula for success and ISIL can be defeated. It is time for Americans to come together and support the President as he ramps up our efforts to defeat this menace.”