Republican 1st District hopefuls weigh in on Iraq
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Both leading Republicans competing in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District are critical of President Barack Obama’s administration on foreign policy in general, but their views on Iraq in particular differ in specificity if not substance.
The Associated Press recently asked Republican congressional candidates to assess the United States’ approach to the recent rise of Islamist militants in Iraq, including the decision to use airstrikes and provide weapons to Kurdish forces.
In the 1st District, former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta declined to answer individual questions but instead offered a broad statement about foreign policy.
“As a nation we need to provide a clear, consistent message to friends and foes alike that we have a long term strategy to deal with the ongoing crises in the Middle-East and elsewhere. A foreign policy based on rhetoric over results is a recipe for disaster,” said Guinta, a former Manchester mayor. “Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, has failed her obligation to lead on these important issues.”
Since their blitz offensive in June, an al-Qaida-breakaway group has overrun much of Iraq’s north and west and driven out hundreds of thousands from their homes. The push has displaced members of the minority Christian and Yazidi religious communities and threatened Iraqi Kurds in the Kurdish autonomous region in the north.
The United States has been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State fighters, helping fend back their advance on Kurdish regions. Like Guinta, Republican Dan Innis didn’t comment specifically on whether he agreed with the airstrikes or other U.S. moves, instead saying it’s not clear to him what strategy the U.S. is pursuing.
“The first step is to develop a strategy for Iraq. I believe the U.S. must take bold and decisive action that will turn back the militants immediately,” he said without elaborating.
Innis, a University of New Hampshire administrator, was more specific when asked whether U.S. troops had been pulled out of Iraq too soon and whether more should be deployed. He said troopers were removed too quickly, and there was no solid strategy for handing militants afterward.
“Ideally, the U.S. should not re-deploy troops to Iraq. However, we have a responsibility to help Iraq to move past the current crisis and we must leave all options on the table until the situation has been rectified,” he said.
Innis said that the U.S. should have foreseen the rise of the militants and that the current crisis illustrates the need to develop a broader foreign policy “that is based on American values.”
“We are lurching from crisis to crisis with no systematic approach to problem solving,” he said. “America is a global leader, and with that comes the responsibility to have a strong foreign policy that supports our allies and American interests.”
Guinta and Innis are competing in the Sept. 9 primary for a chance to take on Shea-Porter. She served two terms starting in 2006, lost to Guinta in 2010 and then defeated him in 2012 to regain the seat. Two other Republicans also are running: Brendan Kelly and Everett Jabour.