"I think our main goal is ISIL. I don't know that we have a, quote, 'responsibility' in Syria after that. And I think the president is being commendably cautious about being involved in the middle of a Syrian civil war," Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, who has served as a deputy majority whip, said Friday morning on MSNBC.
Cole, an ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), made the comments after Obama faced strong criticism for telling reporters on Thursday, "We don't have a strategy yet," to deal with ISIL — the Islamic militant group which brutally executed an American photojournalist recently — in Syria.
Cole warned Obama not to engage in "extensive military action" without the consent of Congress, saying, "Congress has to be absolutely central."
"It's important for the world to understand that when we deploy force, we're doing it as a country and not in a partisan manner, that we genuinely are united. I think the elements of a strategy are there," he said. "Look, the president has made it clear, and I think appropriate, that we're talking about air strikes at some point, we're talking about special operators, we're talking about aid and training for people on the ground, and we're talking about alliances in the region, which I think are going to be not easy to construct but pretty doable, since nobody on the ground, even our enemies, don't like ISIL."
Cole's comments are a contrast to the voices of interventionists who are calling on Obama to mount a swift and aggressive military attack on ISIL.