House Leader Calls for Beefed-up US Response to IS, Russia

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. speaks about foreign policy during the John Hay Initiative, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, at a hotel in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. speaks about foreign policy during the John Hay Initiative, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, at a hotel in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON -- The front-runner to become the next leader of the U.S. House of Representatives denounced President Barack Obama's foreign policy on Monday, saying the U.S. has "lost the respect of allies and adversaries alike."

Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who spoke after the president addressed the United Nations, said the U.S. should consider putting some special forces on the ground in Iraq to help coordinate airstrikes against Islamic State militants.

He also backed a no-fly zone in northern Syria to stem the flow of refugees, and provide a space for Syrian rebels to fight the militants -- steps the White House has so far opposed.

"We must wage this war against radical Islam as if our life depended on it. Because it does," said McCarthy, who also reiterated his criticism of the international nuclear deal with Iran.

"We have lost the respect of allies and adversaries alike. We have isolated Israel while emboldening nations like Iran. We let North Korea threaten South Korea, Russia encroach on Ukraine and now China is asserting a greater sphere of influence," McCarthy said. "Wherever we look, the world is less safe and less secure because America is less engaged."

McCarthy is a heavy favorite to replace John Boehner in one of the most powerful jobs in Washington and become second in line to succeed the president.

The speaker announced his resignation Friday amid growing discontent among some of the most conservative members of the House Republican conference. Reporters rushed McCarthy after his speech, but he wouldn't confirm that he was going to run for the speakership, even though it's widely expected that he will.

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