Obama must lay out a strategy to defeat ISIS, Republicans say

With the recent execution of American journalist James Foley by Islamic militants, Republican lawmakers are calling on the president to clearly lay out a strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

GOP lawmakers have said in some cases, that means more aggressive airstrikes in Iraq, as well as finally taking steps to provide more robust support to the moderate opposition inside Syria, which has consistently failed to muster widespread backing from Congress so far.

"A containment strategy is not going to cut it," Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "We need a strategy that's going to expand the airstrikes, support the Kurds further...[and] more support and enhancement for the moderate opposition in Syria to deal with the sanctuaries in Syria. We have to do that if we want to defeat ISIS."

This strategy, Ayotte said, "starts with presidential leadership, but as a member of Congress I think we have a responsibility to say that we're going to put the protection of this nation first beyond partisan divide."

Ayotte said that the murder of Foley - who was one of her constituents - clarifies the threat that ISIS presents to the U.S.

She said that part of what Congress needs to do is reexamine the defense budget, which is currently subject to automatic budget cuts.

"There's a disconnect with sequester from the threats we face around the world and the resources we are going to need to fight this threat," she said.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a separate interview that the president has only been speaking out in reaction to the events that have unfolded in Iraq.

"What I want to hear from the president is that he has a strategy to finish ISIS off, to defeat ISIS," Ryan said. "I don't want to be an armchair general and tell you how this needs to be done, but I would reference the fact that [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin] Dempsey did say that to do this correctly that Syria is going to have to be part of this equation."

But former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, a CBS News national security analyst, said that the threat from ISIS is "the most complex terrorism problem that I have ever seen."

"There are no magic bullets. This is going to take a long time to get under control," he said. "We have to take away their safe haven, their territory, that requires a political solution in Iraq which is going to require us to continue to press the Iraqis to do the right thing, our Gulf Arab allies to press the Iraqis to do the right thing, Iran to press the Iraqis to do the right thing, and then we need to get a solution in Syria to take that territory away," Morell said.

"The other thing we need to do is take the leadership off the battlefield. We need to identify them through intelligence and then either capture or kill them," Morell added.

CBS News Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent Bob Orr said that there needs to be a more "robust intelligence operation" that produces actionable intelligence in order to take out a terror group like ISIS.

"The intelligence that we have on the ground in Syria is fairly spotty," he said.

Morell said the short-term threat from ISIS the potential that they will inspire someone to attack the U.S., and perhaps one of the Americans, Canadians or Western Europeans that has traveled to fight with them. In the long term - two and a half to three years, he said - "we need to worry about a 9/11-style attack."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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