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Dem Sen Murphy: ‘I Don’t Think We Have a Plan for Destroying ISIL’

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) declared, “I don’t think we have a plan for destroying ISIL,” and “I think our objective today is to degrade them, to keep them on their heels” on Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

Murphy said, “There’s no white knights there. And what we have already seen when we try to run this train and equip program, is that the so-called Syrian moderates really aren’t interested in just fighting ISIS, right? They want US help to be able to fight ISIL and to fight Assad. And so, this fine line that we’re trying to walk here, which is to put special forces on the ground to only fight one set of bad guys, when inevitably we’re going to be asked to be drawn into the fight against Assad is impossible. And of course, the very people we’re trying to help are deeply intertwined with our mortal enemy, al Qaeda, or at least they’re affiliated there.

When asked, “Do we have a plan for destroying ISIL?” Murphy answered, “Well, I don’t think we have a plan for destroying ISIL, today. No, I think our objective today is to degrade them, to keep them on their heels, to try to eliminate this inevitability of the growth of the caliphate. You can do that with sustained air activity. You can do that by continuing to stand up the Iraqi military to put pressure on them inside that country. Ultimately, I don’t know that 40 or 50 advisers are going really to make a fundamental difference in Iraq.”

Murphy also argued that “I think you simply have to imagine that this isn’t the last announcement, that we’re going to start with 50, but that it will soon be at another number. That certainly has been the pattern of activity thusfar.”

He added, “maybe this is a show of force to try to make a play at the negotiation table, to suggest to the Russians and to others that we are serious, that if you don’t come to the table and negotiate, that we have the stomach to actually put troops on the ground, but that’s a real risky bet. Because, if these negotiations don’t work, then you are struck with a strategy that commits US forces to the ground in a civil war that ultimately could become a quagmire.”

Murphy further stated, “it’s hard to have a coherent, overwhelming strategy.”

He also argued, “we’re already fighting ISIL inside Syria, inside Iraq, trying to stand up a new government in Baghdad, trying to work with the Kurds, and respond to a humanitarian disaster, that’s hard enough to do in an of itself, you add to that a ground combat mission against ISIL and maybe Assad, it’s just too cute by half.”

Murphy concluded, “I think the president has largely gotten it right. I think he has largely committed to keeping US forces off the ground, and I’m going to his word that this is about 50 fighters. … I think he still understands the lessons from the Iraq War, and he understands that this has to be a limited engagement. I think he’s gone too far here. But let’s hope that this is the last escalation.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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