Rep. Titus: Obama weak on Iraq

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., on Wednesday criticized President Barack Obama for saying the U.S. lacks a strategy to deal with militants in Iraq and Syria who have beheaded at least two journalists in recent days.

Titus also said she would oppose giving Obama more power to go after “any terrorist, anywhere, anytime,” a proposal now circulating among lawmakers who return to Washington next week after more than a month off.

Titus noted that former President George W. Bush was given such broad powers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, but she said it amounted to skirting Congress and violating the War Powers Act.

“I will not support that,” Titus told the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board.

Before traveling to Europe last week, Obama said it was premature to discuss a U.S. strategy for dealing with ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse: We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.”

Titus noted that she has voted to require congressional approval before Obama can send more troops to Iraq.

On Tuesday, however, the president authorized deploying 350 more troops to help protect the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad at the State Department’s request. That brings to more than 1,100 total U.S. military personnel sent to Iraq since early June when forces known as ISIS began seizing towns across Iraq.

Titus said she supports using airstrikes against the militants but would oppose sending more “boots on the ground,” something Obama doesn’t seem to be considering.

Still, Titus said Obama’s admission last week that the Pentagon hadn’t yet formed a strategy to deal with the Islamic militants, who have declared their own state in Iraq and Syria, didn’t instill confidence.

“Do I think the president should have stood up there and said we have no strategy? Absolutely not,” Titus said, adding that issues in the region are complex, ancient and not “clear-cut.”

“We cannot solve the problems in the Middle East,” Titus said, suggesting moderate countries in the region must also address the growing Islamic militancy.

Titus also was asked whether Obama supports Israel enough and is seen as a “friend” of the Jewish state. She said there is a perception in the region that Obama “is not being as strong a friend as they’d like,” while Congress is seen as more supportive. Titus said she has visited Israel twice herself.

On Iran, Titus said she hopes sanctions and other measures will halt or slow the country’s purported attempts to build a nuclear bomb, although Tehran insists it is interested only in nuclear power. Asked whether there may come a time when the United States may need to attack a suspected nuclear bomb facility in Iran, Titus said no.

“I think we don’t do that,” she said. “That would probably be left to Israel, and not us, to do.”

Titus is running for re-election in the 1st Congressional District in Las Vegas, where registered Democratic voters have a 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans. She is nearly assured of winning in the Nov. 4 election though her GOP challenger, Annette Teijeiro, has gained some support within the Hispanic community.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.

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