U.S. leaders gauge involvement in Middle East conflict

WASHINGTON ( & KRNV) -- As countless refugees escape by air and hundreds of others are fleeing on foot, U.S. leaders now weigh our country's role in the crisis.

"Any way we can get the very urgently needed arms to the kurds we are actively working on," says Marie E. Harf, Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.

Arming Kurdish fighters, or Pashmerga, is the latest move according to the State Department. This follows a few rounds of U.S. airstrikes over the weekend.

Michael Eisenstadt is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and says the debate in strategy in Iraq moving forward must also involve a plan for Syria.

"There is no way of managing the problem with ISIS in Iraq without also having a Syrain component of the strategy and that means also arming someone in Syria against ISIS," says Eisenstadt.

This echoes calls over the weekend for more direct action in the region.

While speaking on the issue on CNN's "State of the Union," Sen. John McCain had this to say: "I would be rushing equipment to Irbil. I would be launching air strikes not only in Iraq but in Syria against ISIS. They have erased the boundaries between Iraq and Syria."

Without boundaries, the question now is about the Islamic state, or ISIS, as a whole. The White House and many in Washington have now admitted it's grown far faster and stronger than anyone previously thought possible.

Still, many are not keen on any military involvement anywhere in the region, and selling the idea to the American people could be a challenge.

With hundreds of U.S. personnel based in the area, not to mention business interests including oil, Eisenstadt argues military action thus far has been necessary, that staying out of the conflict was just not an option.

"We've learned from the past if you don't visit the Middle East it will visit you and therefore we need to be involved at a certain level," says Eisenstadt.

He says not acting now would mean acting later under far more unfavorable circumstances.