Last updated on: 3/11/2016 10:16:04 AM PST
Should the United States Send Ground Troops to Fight ISIS?
"DONALD TRUMP: Well, I want to take away their wealth. And, as you know, for years I've been saying, 'Don't go into Iraq.' They went into Iraq. They destabilized the Middle East. It was a big mistake. Okay, now we're there. And you have ISIS. And I said this was going to happen. I said, 'Iran will take over Iraq,' which is happening as sure as you're sitting there. And ISIS is taking over a lot of the oil and certain areas of Iraq. And I said you take away their wealth, that you go and knock the hell out of the oil, take back the oil. We take over the oil, which we should have done in the first place...
CHUCK TODD: What you're talking is--ground troops.
DONALD TRUMP: That's okay."
Source: Meet the Press, "Meet the Press Transcript – August 16, 2015," www.nbcnews.com, Aug. 19, 2015
"Donald Trump has been all over the place on ISIS. He's talked about letting Syria become a free zone for ISIS. A major country in the Middle East that could launch attacks against us and others. He's talked about sending ground troops — American ground troops. Well, that is off the table as far as I am concerned."
Source: Katie Zezima, "Donald Trump Calls for 'Extreme Vetting' of People Looking to Come to the United States," washingtonpost.com, Aug. 15, 2016
"Putting tens of thousands of American troops on the ground in Iraq or, especially, Syria, won't work. We have learned that the hard way."
Source: Our America Initiative, "Gary Johnson: ISIS Is Today's Nazi Fascism," Our America Initiative Tumblr website, Nov. 19, 2015
"[T]he war on terror has globalized Al Qaeda, expanded the Taliban, created ISIS and spawned innumerable, rapidly shifting hybrids of local resistance fighters, brutal warlords and violent religious extremists...
Global peace and stability, and the solution to ISIS, will not come from more US violence, occupation and militarism that created ISIS in the first place.
It’s time to lead the way on an international Peace Offensive that can prevent these catastrophic wars and stop ISIS in its tracks."
Source: Jill Stein, "The Precarious State of Our Union - A Bipartisan Disaster We Can Fix," jill2016.com, Jan. 12, 2016
(Candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria
appear below in black and white and in alphabetical order.)
"What happened on the streets of Paris on Friday should not come as a surprise. After all, we have seen ISIS expand its deadly reach in recent weeks to Lebanon, to Egypt, and to Turkey – to say nothing of the daily horrors faced by those who live under their control in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan...
We are at war with radical Islamic terrorism. It is the war of our time, and a struggle that will determine the fate of the free world...
Since the attacks in Paris, the demand for action to stamp out ISIS has rightly grown. The United States should not delay in leading a global coalition to take out ISIS with overwhelming force...
Militarily, we need to intensify our efforts in the air – and on the ground. While air power is essential, it alone cannot bring the results we seek. The United States – in conjunction with our NATO allies and more Arab partners – will need to increase our presence on the ground...
Radical Islamic terrorists have declared war on the western world. Their aim is our total destruction. We can't withdraw from this threat, or negotiate with it. We have but one choice: to defeat it."
Source: Jeb Bush, "Full Remarks: A US Defense Policy for the 21st Century," jeb2016.com, Nov. 18, 2015
"We need to do whatever is necessary to utterly defeat ISIS. And that needs to be driven not by politicians but by military expertise and judgment. Right now we're not using a fraction of the tools that we have. We're not using our overwhelming air power. We're not arming the Kurds. Those need to be the first steps. And then we need to put whatever ground power is needed to carry it out."
Source: CNN, "Transcript of Republican Debate In Miami, Full Text," cnn.com, Mar. 10, 2016
"Now we're in a spot where, if we don't destroy ISIL soon, they are coming here. There are 3,500 American boots on the ground. You would never know it, hearing your president, but we need about 10,000 to turn the tide of battle in Iraq. Then there is nobody left, Dana, to train inside of Syria.
We spent $50 million training 54 people and they are down to four or five. They have been slaughtered. So we're going to need a regional army, the Turks, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Egyptians get their armies up together and 90 percent of it will be them. They're going to pay for this war because we paid for the last two.
But 10 percent at least will have to be us and we're going in on the ground and we're going to pull the caliphate up by its roots and we're going to kill every one of these bastards we can find because, if we don't, they are coming here."
Source: CNN, "CNN Reagan Library Debate: Early Debate Full Transcript," cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com, Sep. 16, 2015
"[Wolf] Blitzer: Governor Huckabee, you have not put a number of how many U.S. ground troops would be needed to combat ISIS. Is Senator Graham’s proposal [of 10,000 ground troops] sufficient?
[Mike] HUCKABEE: Wolf, it may be sufficient, but rather than put a number — and I'm comfortable that we say 10,000, 20,000 — look, I think we make a mistake when we start telling the enemy what our limitations are. I think we make a huge mistake when we say we're gonna do up to this. I think what we say is, we're gonna do whatever it takes. If it's 10,000, if it’s 100,000, if it's 3,000 sorties a day, if it’s 5,000 sorties a day."
Source: New York Times, "Transcript: Republican Presidential Debate," www.nytimes.com, Dec. 15, 2015
"[John Kasich] We're not going to solve this problem [ISIS] just by bombing... it never fixes it all. Even in the Gulf War we had the early bombing but then boots on the ground.
[Gloria Borger] But Americans don't want boots on the ground.
[Kasich] Americans will go for leadership that makes sense. Our job, you know, as public officials, is not to put our finger in the air. Our job is to listen and then lead… I'm just suggesting to you that at some point in dealing with ISIS, you mark my words, whether John Kasich, you ever hear from him again, at some point it will require boots on the ground from the world to be able to deal with this problem. And I would rather deal with it sooner than later, but you don’t just go running over there. You've got to have a battle plan."
Source: Alexandra Jaffe, "Kasich: Boots on the Ground Necessary to Defeat ISIS," www.cnn.com, Feb. 20, 2015
"I think that there do need to be boots on the ground, I just think the boots on the ground need to be the people that live there. [They] need to stand up and fight.
I can't see it if the Iraqi's are not willing to fight for their country, sending American GI's to fight in their place...
Why is Turkey not doing everything humanely possible, including sending troops into there?
If the Turks sent troops in and if the Jordanians had troops and the Saudis had troops and the Qataris had troops, we'd be in a much better situation...
We do need to do something about ISIS, so I am for using the full extent of our air power, our intelligence gathering, our drones."
Source: Fox News Insider, "Sen. Rand Paul on Fighting ISIS: Our Allies Need to Be the Boots on the Ground," insider.foxnews.com, Oct. 19 2014
"Well, let's understand that when we talk about Syria, you're talking about a quagmire in a quagmire. You're talking about a group of people trying to overthrow Assad, other groups of people fighting ISIS. You're talking about people who are fighting ISIS using their guns to overthrow Assad, and vice versa. I'm the former chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, and in that capacity I learned a very powerful lesson about the cost of war, and I will do everything that I can to make sure that the United States does not get involved in another quagmire like we did in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries who should be leading the effort. We should be supportive, but I do not support American ground troops in Syria."
[Editor's Note: In addition to the above Con statement, Bernie Sanders also made the following statement in his Nov. 19, 2015 speech "Senator Bernie Sanders on Democratic Socialism in the United States," available at berniesanders.com:
Source: New York Times, "Full Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate," nytimes.com, Oct. 14, 2015
"I’m not running to pursue reckless adventures abroad, but to rebuild America’s strength at home. I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will never send our sons and daughters to war under false pretense or pretenses or into dubious battles with no end in sight...
To my mind, it is clear that the United States must pursue policies to destroy the brutal and barbaric ISIS regime, and to create conditions that prevent fanatical extremist ideologies from flourishing...
A new and effective coalition must be formed with the Muslim nations leading the effort on the ground, while the United States and other major forces provide the support they need."]
Not Clearly Pro or Con
"We have to destroy their caliphate because that gives them legitimacy to go ahead with the global Jihad... But also, you know, this whole concept of boots on the ground, you know, we've got a phobia about boots on the ground. If our military experts say, we need boots on the ground, we should put boots on the ground and recognize that there will be boots on the ground and they'll be over here, and they'll be their boots if we don't get out of there now."
Source: New York Times, "Transcript: Republican Presidential Debate,"
www.nytimes.com, Dec. 15, 2015
Now Not Clearly Pro or Con
“I think we have to keep American troops as an option on the table, but to me it is a later option, not a first option, and the president should have been doing all these other things first."
[Editor's Note: Christie previously expressed a CON opinion on this question. Read Christie's former position on fighting ISIS with ground troops.]
Source: Joel Aschbrenner, "Christie: If Sending Ground Troops, Go 'Whole Hog,'" desmoinesregister.com, Oct. 30, 2015
Not Clearly Pro or Con
"Look, all of us who know anything about it have known that you cannot have a successful bombing campaign unless you have special operations troops on the ground helping to direct that campaign. President Obama hasn't been willing to do that for political purposes.
[Editor's Note: Fiorina previously expressed a CON opinion on this question. Read Fiorina's former position on fighting ISIS with ground troops.]
It's also true that he has no strategy in Syria. He has no strategy for ISIS. And it's also true that when the United States of America fails to act, as he has failed to act, are options are diminished."
Source: This Week, ABC News, Nov. 1, 2015
Not Clearly Pro or Con
"No threat probably better illustrates the unintended consequences of a mindless rush to war and a lack of understanding than the emergence of ISIS... We must be mindful that American boots on the ground can be counterproductive to our desired outcome. We will not be successful in degrading ISIS if the number of militants taken off the battlefield is exceeded by number of new recruits replacing them."
Source: Ken Thomas, "O'Malley: Islamic State a Result of Mindless Rush to War," bigstory.ap.com, June 26, 2015
Not Clearly Pro or Con
"I think the strategy [to defeat ISIS] has to involve more coordination with the Kurds and also with Sunnis, because you're not going to defeat ISIS, a radical Sunni movement, without a robust anti-ISIS Sunni coalition.
So, I do think [Obama sending 50 special operations troops into Syria] it's important tactical step forward. It needs to be backed up with increased airstrikes and so forth. So, I don't have a problem with the tactics of it. And the numbers might even have to be larger at some point. But I think the bigger issue is, can they arrive at a strategy?...
ISIS will not be defeated unless they are confronted by an organized anti-ISIS Sunni movement. And that won't happen without American assistance at some significant level, like what you're seeing proposed now."
Source: Susan Jones, "Rubio Says US May Need to Send More Troops to Syria," cnsnews.com, Nov. 2, 2015