U.S. air attacks continued in northern Iraq on Sunday, where militants have surrounded and threatened to kill as many as 40,000 members of the minority Yazidi sect.
President Obama announced on Thursday that the U.S. was getting back into Iraq, but only on a limited basis - to protect American personnel and to help Iraqi forces aid and rescue besieged minorities like the Yazidis.
Undoubtedly many Americans are trying to figure out how this affects them back in the homeland. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told Fox News Sunday's
Chris Wallace that Obama needs to explain that the threat from these Islamic militants over there could affect Americans back over here.
"If he does not go on the offensive against ISIS, ISIL, whatever you guys want to call it, they are coming here. This is just not about Baghdad. This is just not about Syria. And if we do get attacked, then he will have committed a blunder for the ages," Graham said.
"When I look at the map ... I think of the United States. I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists' ability to operate in Syria and Iraq," said Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "The director of national security, the FBI director, the director of Homeland Security and others have repeatedly told the president of the threat, he said.
Before taking off for Martha's Vineyard for a couple of weeks of vacation (a questionable move some might say with this new development), Obama maintained that the U.S. air campaign will not go beyond the limited objectives he outlined on Thursday night. It's the limited scope of the invasion that is infuriating critics like John McCain.
“Well, these people that are coming to fight on the side of ISIS are returning to their countries in Europe and there’s 100 of them that we are tracking in the United States," McCain said on CNN's State of the Union.
" As I mentioned to you already, one was in Syria, came back to the United States, and then went back to Syria and blew himself up. Mr. Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, when he left our Camp Bucca, the camp in Iraq, he said “see you in New York.”…Their goal, as they have stated openly time after time, is the destruction of the United States.”
All U.S. troops were pulled out of Iraq at the end of 2011, per the Status of Forces Agreement reached between President George W. Bush and the Iraqi government in 2008. Obama has been criticized for years by critics like McCain that he could have kept a "residual force" of up to 10,000 troops or so if he had been a craftier negotiators. Others say that the president kept him 2008 campaign promise that he would get the U.S. out of Iraq completely.
On Meet The Press
, New York Republican Representative Peter King piled on, calling Obama "a weak leader," and said the U.S. should do "whatever we have to do" to stifle Islamic militants. He said that the U.S. should provide arms to the Kurds in northern Iraq.
President Obama says the air strikes will go on "for months," but Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said on Meet The Press
that cannot be followed by ground troops. "The bottom line is this: There is so much we can do to help the Iraqis help themselves."