Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (Getty Images)
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CongressWatch spoke with three prominent lawmakers about the timing of possible US airstrikes on ISIL Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Iraq — and how to ensure they would be effective.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Senate Armed Services Committee member
Q. Do you think there’s a date at which US airstrikes in Iraq would cease to have an effect on ISIL’s advance?
A. If there’s a new government formed, within hours of that new government being formed, we need to weigh in. ... If you don’t get a new government in the next few weeks, I think the window is really closed.
Q. Is some kind of political deal needed before those strikes should begin?
A. I think really by the middle of July, if you don’t have a new government to rally around, the military advance of [ISIL] will be so great that everybody goes into their [ethnic] camps.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Senate Armed Services Committee chairman
Q. Is there an expiration date for effective US strikes?
A. If there is, I’d be surprised because sometimes people can over-commit. ISIL could over-commit, and find themselves in a worse position.
Q. Some, like Senator Graham, say the window for effective strikes closes in a few weeks. Do you agree?
A. I’m not in a position to say when that date is, militarily. Time might work in either direction.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, House Armed Services Committee vice chairman
Q. When does the window close for the possibility of effective US strikes against ISIL in Iraq?
A. Artificial deadlines do not matter. Effectiveness does. An ineffectual use of force is worse than none at all. The American people and Congress need to see a realistic and effective plan.
Q. Why did the situation in Iraq deteriorate to this point?
A. The [Obama] administration compromised long-term security for short-term political gain, and those decisions are coming home to roost.