House Speaker John Boehner was highly critical President Obama's foreign policy during an interview Tuesday, blaming the White House for sowing the seeds of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The Ohio Republican, speaking to his colleague, Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., who was guest-hosting Hugh Hewitt's conservative talk radio program, suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin never would have invaded Ukraine while George W. Bush was in the White House.
Boehner also said that Obama's failure to develop a strategy to confront and defeat ISIS was responsible for the gains made by the Islamic extremist movement.
The speaker signaled that the Republican-controlled House might need to act to grant Obama additional authority to act militarily against ISIS, but that that is dependent upon what, if any, strategy the president settles on.
Boehner spoke to Campbell by telephone on the tail end of a campaign-style bus tour that has taken him to more than a dozen states and House districts during Congress' summer recess. The interview came on the same day that Obama headed overseas for crucial meetings with world leaders on how to address crises in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Following is a partial transcript of Boehner's interview as provided by the Hewitt show:
On Russia's invasion of Ukraine: "The President and NATO need to make clear to Putin that we are not going to tolerate their continued incursions into Ukraine. Listen, the seeds of what we’re seeing today were sown by the president five years ago when he did his 'apology' tour, when he went to Europe and he went to the Middle East and apologized for America being strong and America leading. The world wants us to lead. And when he sent this signal, he sent the message out to all the goofballs around the world that if they wanted to go poach, it was fine with him. Now, does anybody think that Vladimir Putin would have gone into Crimea had George W. Bush been president?"
On the rise of ISIS: "I think, under existing authorizations from the Congress, he has the ability to do this in Iraq. It’s, I think it’s questionable whether he has the authority to do this in Syria. You know, the threat from ISIS goes back well over a year. And the crisis in Syria’s been going on now for over two years. And we’ve asked the president, asked the president, 'what is your strategy to deal with Syria?' And clearly, there’s no strategy that’s developed there. But when ISIS came across the Iraqi border in January, you know, I asked the question: 'Mr. President, where is the strategy to deal with the growing Islamic threat?' -- because it’s not just Syria, and it’s not just Iraq. This goes from Libya to Gaza to Lebanon to Syria and Iraq. All of these countries are basically under control of Islamic terrorists who are hellbent on killing Americans, as we saw once again today."
On seeking additional authorization from Congress: "The president has provided the notification of some of these strikes, even in Iraq, because there’s some ambiguity there in terms of how much authority in Iraq did he have. But if he’s going after ISIS, he would have, I think he would have to provide a war powers notification to the Congress. And then it would be up to the House to make a decision about whether we dealt with the issue or not ... I think it’s the president’s responsibility to outline to the American people how we’re going to deal with this problem. It is not going to go away. Its intent, their intent, is to kill Americans at home and abroad, and we either deal with this head-on and eliminate this threat, or continue to put Americans at risk."