Extremist militants tighten grip on Iraq; The future of the GOP

(CBS News) The brutal fight for control of Iraq and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning primary loss were the central topics this Sunday on Face the Nation. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Tom Donilon, President Obama's former National Security Advisor, weighed in on the turmoil in Iraq. In addition, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus joined the broadcast to discuss the future of the GOP as the race for Congress in the midterm elections heats up.

Graham blamed the Obama administration's troop withdrawal in 2011 for the relentless advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. In the past few days, the extremist group has captured large swaths of northern Iraq, including Mosul, the second-largest city. Meanwhile, the United States has begun evacuating many of its embassy personnel in Baghdad.

He called the conditions surrounding the U.S. drawdown "the perfect storm" for a sectarian uprising. "We withdraw our forces in 2011 so the security environment falls apart," Graham said. "Maliki without hand holding being pushed by Petraeus and Crocker, the Obama administration had a hands-off approach to the political problems in Baghdad and Syria, got al-Qaeda and Iraq back into the game."

Graham's comments were picked up by The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Week, Politico, NBC News, Slate, Mediaite, The New York Daily News, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters.

Former Obama National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, sought to direct blame at the Iraqi president, Nouri al-Maliki, who has been criticized by Sunnis in Iraq for the heavy-handed tactics of the Shiite-dominated government.

"What happened is that you have had really a failure by the Maliki government to really follow on a number of promises that he made both to the United States, to the international community, and, more importantly, to the political leadership in Iraq," Donilon said. "He's failed to really integrate the Sunni political leadership into his government."

In political news, Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC, dismissed the notion of a divided Republican Party inthe wake of Rep. Eric Cantor's loss in his district primary to a tea party backed candidate, the relatively unknown college professor, David Brat.

"When you're trying to be a majority leader... it takes you all over this country, takes you out of your district," Priebus said. "And pretty soon, that good work you're doing nationally becomes a liability locally. And I think it's a local issue."

Donilon and Priebus's comments were picked up by The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Buffalo News, Politico, The Hill, Fox News, The Washington Times, PBS, and The Washington Post.

  • Peter Fulham

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