Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a potential Republican presidential contender, is telling Americans that, like it or not, the fight against ISIS will eventually require boots on the ground if it is to be won.
“Mark my words … at some point it will require boots on the ground from the world to be able to deal with this problem,” he told CNN’s Gloria Borger in an interview that will air Sunday on “State of the Union.”
When Borger noted that Americans are war weary, Kasich responded that leaders are elected to lead.
“Look, Americans will go for leadership that makes sense. Our job, you know, as public officials, is not to put our finger in the air. Our job is to listen, and then lead,” he said.
A CNN/ORC survey out this week suggested deploying troops indeed remains a divisive issue, but that Americans may be warming up to the idea. Now, 47% support the prospect of deploying ground troops, the highest level of support yet measured, with just half of Americans opposed.
Kasich added that the international community needs to come together to fight ISIS, and before sending troops to the region there needs to be a clear plan.
“I think that the Western world needs to be united, and we need to invite our friends in the Arab world together, and we do need to develop a plan,” he said.
“But to say that we’re going to stop ISIS by just dropping bombs, it’ll either preserve the status quo, or they’ll make slight gains,” Kasich said.
ISIS has indeed been at the center of a week of global violence. On Tuesday, ISIS forces launched a new assault in Iraq; this weekend, a gunman pledging allegiance to ISIS opened fire on a free-speech forum and a video of ISIS militants beheading Egyptian Christians was released, prompting a retaliatory strike from Egypt.
On Thursday, U.S. officials announced that the U.S. led 15 coalition airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
During a Thursday speech at the State Department, President Barack Obama called for a global effort to combat violent extremism and urged countries around the world to address the root causes that fuel terrorist groups.
And in his interview with CNN, Kasich agreed, declaring that the onus is also on European nations to wake up and step up to the challenges in the Middle East.
“We, frankly, are united with many people in the Arab world today, because of the atrocities we see,” Kasich said. “And we need to make sure that our friends in Europe are not putting their heads in the sand, and they have for too long, and some of them are paying the price, tragically speaking.”