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Maffei, Katko take sides in ISIS debate

Ryan Delaney/WRVO and Katko for Congress
Democratic Congressman Dan Maffei (left) and Republican John Katko (right) are running to represent the 24th Congressional District, which includes four counties, including Onondaga County.

Candidates running for the 24th Congressional District seat, which includes Syracuse, agree there’s no easy answer to the escalating violence in the Middle East.

Democratic Congressman Dan Maffei calls the murders of American reporters in Iraq international crimes and heinous acts. But he says figuring out how to stop the violence perpetrated by the Islamic militant group ISIS is not easy.

“What we have to do is focus on how to fight it," Maffei said. "And that requires a lot of intelligence, a lot of making sure we can find these culprits and bring them to justice, and there’s no other way around that.”

He says dealing with the increasing violence in the Middle East won't be a quick decision either, because the situation keeps changing.

"It is a complex situation," Maffei explained. "It wasn’t too long ago when we were debating whether to bomb the Assad regime in Syria, where ISIS is opposed to the Assad regime in Syria. So when people fill their hearts with hate, they not only hate us, they hate each other.”

Maffei says there will be hearings next week in the Armed Services Committee on the issue.  

His opponent in the 24th Congressional District race, Republican John Katko, believes part of the problem is that the United States has lacked a clear foreign policy in that area.

"We’ve got to have a strong foreign policy," Katko said. "We’ve got to have a credible foreign policy. We’ve got to have a foreign policy that everyone understands, the good guys and the bad guys, and that when somebody does something in contravention of that foreign policy, then you’ve got to act on it."

Katko says ultimately, US foreign policy should help countries like Iraq and Syria be able to stand up against militant groups.

“My feeling is, we’ve committed enough ground troops in Iraq, and shed enough blood and treasure to last a lifetime over there," Katko said. "They have to stand up for themselves. But to give more air support and technical support to them, I’m all for that.”

Primary day is Sept. 9.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.