Kingston: Iraq problem not likely to be contained

by W. Winston Skinner


U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who is running for U.S. Senate, greets retired teacher Nancy McLean in downtown Newnan on Tuesday. 

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston – who is running for U.S. Senate – says the unrest in Iraq is not likely to be contained within that nation’s borders.

Kingston blames the Obama administration for its decision to pull all troops out of Iraq and says some type of action on the part of the United States is warranted. He stopped short of suggesting U.S. troops return to the region, but said air strikes or other measures might be needed.

Kingston was in Newnan on Tuesday as part of a campaign swing for his Senate runoff race against David Perdue. The winner of that contest will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in November.

Kingston stopped to visit with citizens at Redneck Gourmet in downtown Newnan. About 50 people stopped to meet him or ask questions.

An agreement that would have taken steps to solidify gains made while the United States was in Iraq should have been in place before American troops left in 2011, Kingston said.

Kingston is a senior member of the House Subcommittee on Defense and a member of the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies.

Efforts “to kind of hold things down” as the U.S. presence was lessened would have been in keeping with long-term policies, Kingston said. He noted there are still 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea and 38,000 in Japan.

“The president rushed to get out of there for political reasons,” Kingston said.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the region is “a step in the right direction,” Kingston said. “We want to have a dialogue set up.”

Kingston expressed grave concerns about the growth and spread of the influence of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levan – known as ISIS or ISIL. “This is a dangerous group,” he said, adding that the “emergence of another group of terrorist forces” creates an additional faction that must be considered and watched as events unfold.

The crisis “is not likely to be contained within the borders of Iraq,” Kingston said. “The president should have options on the table.” Those options should include air strikes.

Iraq and many other countries in the Middle East and Africa were created by European empire builders. “There is lingering resentment over the lines that were drawn by British conquerors,” Kingston said.

The possibility that many of those lines may eventually disappear is being considered by some political scientists and experts on the Middle East. People in the Middle East often cite religion as their first association, Kingston said, and tribal ties often are considered ahead of nationality.

“Part of what ISIS wants to do is reconstitute the caliphate,” Kingston said. While ISIS’s current activities are in Iraq and Syria, the group’s name implies a desire to reconnect land that is now part of several countries including Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian territories and the former Aleppo Vilayet in southern Turkey.

While in Newnan, Kingston talked with local citizens about the need for tax simplification. He also said government red tape is stifling job creation. “Government overreach is bringing down America,” he said.

His stop in Newnan was part of a long day that included visits to Macon and Atlanta. Earlier in the week, he made stops in Atlanta, Augusta and Cumming. He returned to Washington on Tuesday evening.

The number one concern he is hearing on the campaign trail is jobs – “getting people back to work again.”

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