Former Gov. George Pataki, who is expected to launch a presidential bid next week, said Wednesday the U.S. should deploy troops to Iraq to fight ISIS.
Pataki, a New York Republican, insisted that a deployment of U.S. combat troops would be a limited mission unlike the 2003 American invasion of Iraq – a war then-President George W. Bush had insisted would be short-lived.
“I don’t want to see us putting in a million soldiers, spend 10 years, a trillion dollars, trying to create a democracy where one hasn’t existed,” Pataki said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day. “But send in troops, destroy their training centers, destroy their recruitment centers, destroy the area where they are looking to plan to attack us here and then get out.”
Pataki added that while Americans may be wary of sending troops back into combat the fight against ISIS “is our war.”
Other likely Republican presidential candidates, like Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Sen. Rick Santorum, have also said they would deploy ground combat troops to fight ISIS – pledging to send 10,000 American troops. Gov. John Kasich, an Ohio Republican also likely to join the fray, has also said ground troops will be needed to defeat ISIS.
American military involvement in the Middle East is emerging as a major issue in the nascent 2016 presidential campaign. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush started a firestorm last week by stumbling over questions about his views on his brother’s invasion of Iraq more than a decade ago. And the rise of ISIS, which recently took control of the key Iraqi city of Ramadi, underscores the persistent challenges in the region that will almost certainly confront the next president.
And while some will be competing for the endorsement of the hawkish wing of the party, others – like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul – will be betting instead on a war weary public that wants to find ways of defeating ISIS without sacrificing American soldiers.
Pataki added that he would not be looking to “build a stable state, (but) to protect our security interests here” in the U.S.
“No 10 year war, no massive casualties, but protect American lives before we get attacked here,” he added.
Pataki also slammed the Obama administration for lacking a strategy to defeat ISIS and took a jab at leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state when the U.S. pulled its troops out of Iraq without reaching an agreement with Iraq to leave a residual force of American troops.
A week before he is set to announce his presidential campaign plans in New Hampshire – the first primary state – Pataki also fired back at Republican senators running for president who are claiming senators would be better prepared to steer U.S. foreign policy than governors. Pataki, a former three-term governor, insisted governors have more executive experience and would be better prepared.
Pataki also weighed in on the same-sex marriage debate as the Supreme Court prepares to rule next month on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional.
“My view is leave marriage to the states,” he said. “There’s no reason why New York and Texas have to have the same law. Marriage is a state issue and I believe that it should continue to be.”
And while some conservatives have vowed to resist a Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, Pataki said he would recognize the ruling as “the law of the land.”
“Obviously you follow the law of the land,” he said. “There are many laws I disagree with, but you follow the law. You fight to change the law, you don’t break the law. I believe that’s the American way.”