Carl Levin used one of his final public appearances as a sitting US senator to deliver stern words to the Islamic State group, Pakistani leaders — and the American media.
The retiring Michigan Democrat and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman told a morning forum here that the violent Sunni group should “unite the world.”
Combating the group “can unify people,” Levin said Wednesday during an appearance at the United States Institute of Peace. “It can unify the world.”
So far, some Republican lawmakers and analysts are questioning whether President Barack Obama’s efforts to take on the Islamic State actually have. Skeptics question whether countries, especially in Europe and the Arab world, are offering anything but rhetorical support.
Levin reiterated his — and many congressional Democrats’ — stance that America’s efforts against the group should be limited to the airstrikes already underway.
If boots on the ground are necessary — and experts say they will be — those should be Arab combat boots, Levin said Wednesday. That puts Levin at odds with a growing number of senior GOP members.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, recently was asked during an ABC News interview: “If no one else will step up, would you recommend putting American boots on the ground?”
Boehner replied: “We have no choice. These are barbarians. They intend to kill us, and if we don’t destroy them first, we’re going to pay the price.”
When Congress returns in mid-November, both chambers are expected to hold more hearings on the Obama administration’s strategy against the Islamic State group. But a vote on formally authorizing US military force might come after the 114th Congress is seated in January — that’s what Boehner prefers.
Many in Congress want a debate and vote on an Islamic State-focused authorization of military force, but they privately concede it is very possible neither will ever happen.
Levin is threading a needle in his stance on whether Congress should vote.