“I believe we are losing the war against ISIS [Islamic State] and the wider war against Islamist terror,” McCaul said at the conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation. “We are in a generational struggle.”
McCaul criticized President Barack Obama’s strategy to counter Islamic extremism, noting that the United States is “fighting with one hand behind our back.”
The US needs to take the fight to the Islamic State, McCaul argued, by conducting more airstrikes against the terrorist group, embedding US troops with local forces in Iraq and Syria to call in airstrikes as well as providing more trainers for the Iraqi Army and moderate Syrian rebels.
The Obama administration has sought to reduce the number of civilian casualties in airstrikes due to the animosity it creates as the United States tries to win the hearts and minds of local populations where the Islamic State operates.
McCaul argued, however, that the United States should engage in a more aggressive strategy and back moderate Syrian rebels to fight radical Islamists as well as topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He criticized the Department of Defense for training only 60 moderate Syrian rebels so far and its inability to find more recruits among the fractured and radicalized rebel ranks.
The United States has been fighting a war on Islamist terror for nearly two-decades at a cost of trillions of dollars and two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Washington’s efforts have garnered criticism at home and abroad for being engaged in an endless war that has achieved few results and created space for extremists like the Islamic State to operate. Islamist terror groups now increasingly control large parts of the Middle East — including portions of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya — despite, or because of, US policy.