At a time of upheaval around the globe, the United States is no longer vigorously interacting with other nations, according to U.S. Rep. Steve King.
"Our foreign policy is weak," the Republican from Kiron said Thursday during a town hall meeting in Fort Dodge. "We need to be strong."
King described the rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of a black man there by police as "pretty tragic."
During an interview with The Messenger before the town hall meeting, he said the New Black Panthers are inciting the riots.
"The reports are that there are people that are traveling into the Ferguson, Missouri, area for the purposes of looting and rioting and that there's at least one representative there who is strongly pushing hard for more and more violence who is of the New Black Panthers," he said. "They are the most violent African-American group in the country."
King spoke to about 40 people at the East Campus of Iowa Central Community College.
He represents Webster County and 38 other northern Iowa counties. He faces Democrat Jim Mowrer, of Boone, in the November general election.
Early in his remarks, King decried what he sees as weakness in American foreign policy. He said the country's relationship with nations such as Poland and the Czech Republic has been damaged at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be trying to reassemble the Soviet Union.
He said if the United States had not withdrawn most of its troops from Iraq, the Muslim fighters who have overrun much of the country would not have been able to do so.
King called those fighters "the most cruel, radical Islamic group on the planet."
"They're attacking Christians," he said. "They're beheading women and children."
He added, "We will have to fight them some day."
During the interview, the congressman said he supports the American air strikes underway in Iraq.
"I think we should do more, not less," he said. "I'm not promoting the idea that we should put large numbers of boots on the ground."
"We should instead look at this from the perspective of the United States has invested a lot of blood and treasure in Iraq and the investment of some air cover there to save the lives of people who will be exterminated if we do not is worth it," he added.
During both his town hall meeting remarks and the interview, King was critical of how President Barack Obama has responded to the Missouri riots.
"I think the president's call for calm as he picked up his golf clubs wasn't enough," King said. "I think it would be better if he would go to the area, walk out into the street and say 'Stop this and clean this up and let's have peace because we're going to provide justice.' If there was confidence that justice would be provided there's a better chance that we would see peace.''
The congressman said he's confident Missouri authorities can do a thorough investigation of the shooting.
"I don't know that this needs to be a federal case," he said.
During the town hall meeting, King abruptly ended an exchange with a man who pressed him for his position on government action to counter global warming.
"You've made your point," King told the man before answering a question from another member of the audience.