Illinois senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk are taking different perspectives on how (or how not) to respond to the bloody civil battle ravaging Iraq.
Durbin, a Democrat, supported President Obama's pledge to send 300 American troops to the region to advise the Iraqi military but stood opposed to recruiting any more soldiers.
“I am going to watch that very, very carefully. I do not want to see the American profile in Iraq expand. This country, Iraq, has decided its own future and we cannot risk any more American lives in that process,” he said Friday, adding: "We can’t send in enough American soldiers to make the Iraqis love their country more than they hate their neighbor and we can’t send in enough American soldiers to end a war that has divided the religion of Islam for 13 centuries.”
Kirk, a Republican, has blasted Obama as "not up to the job" of ending sectarian violence in the country and agreed with Sen. John McCain's view that the president should fire his entire national security staff.
He also criticized Secretary John Kerry for saying the U.S. could be open to working with Iran to squash the insurgency of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"The idea of negotiating with Iran, a state sponsor of terror, to stabilize the region is laughable," said Kirk in a statement. "If Iran has operational control of Iraq's oil wealth, it puts the United States in more danger."
Kerry said Monday that the U.S. could speed up a military intervention in the face of a growing threat against ISIS extremists if Iraqi lawmakers do not follow through on attempts to forge a new coalition that would unify the majority Shiites, minority Sunnis, Kurds and other groups.
"They do pose a threat. They cannot be given safe haven anywhere," he said, according to The New York Times. "That’s why, again, I reiterate the president will not be hampered if he deems it necessary if the formation is not complete."
Reps for Durbin and Kirk did not respond to Ward Room requests for comment on Kerry's latest statements.
"American officials, drawn increasingly back into a struggle that President Obama had sought to end, do not want to be seen as taking sides in a sectarian conflict," wrote the Times' Michael L. Gordon on Monday. "They have stressed in recent days that the establishment of an cross-sectarian Iraqi government would make it easier for the United States to provide military support for Iraq, including airstrikes."
Durbin, who is running for re-election this year, was one of 23 U.S. senators to vote against the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War in 2002. The hawkish Kirk, a Navy reservist, voted in favor of the resolution.