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John Kerry on Iraq: Pres. Obama Prepared to Use Military but....

Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News on Tuesday that President Obama is fully prepared to use American military might to help the Iraqi government push back Sunni Islamic militants sweeping across the country's west, but not "in a vacuum" of Iraqi political power.

President Obama's "focus and mine is on the issue of government formation," Kerry told CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan in Erbil, the capital of the Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region, where he was pressing regional leaders to keep backing the central government in Baghdad.

We're not making a decision about American force in a vacuum," he told Brennan, explaining that any U.S. military commitment was "tied to success in the long run," which he said could only come from "leadership that can unify Iraq."


Kerry has spent two days urging Iraqi leaders -- including Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been accused by the country's minority Sunni and Kurdish populations of consolidating power among members of his own sect and unfairly distributing the nation's vast oil wealth -- to form a new, inclusive government capable of rebuilding the country's military and effectively countering the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

He stressed to Brennan on Tuesday that, regardless of whether President Obama decides to order airstrikes in Iraq -- as al-Maliki's government has requested -- there is "no pure military victory here. We've got to have a political solution."

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Locations : Baghdad
People : John KerryMargaret BrennanNouri al-MalikiObama Prepared
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