Following a National Security Council meeting at the Pentagon Monday, President Obama delivered a statement on ISIS in an effort to quell fears of an attack on U.S. soil during the holidays. Obama reassured the American people that significant progress has been made in crippling the terror organization. Obama's tone was in stark contrast to that of his statement from the Oval Office last Sunday, when he dismissed the idea of a "long and costly ground war" in Iraq and Syria. Along with the noticeably more assertive tone came perhaps Obama's most formidable message to ISIS yet.
Long accused of being too soft in his stance on combating ISIS, Obama broke from his normally diplomatic tone and delivered a statement that likely commanded the attention of his biggest detractors.
ISIL leaders cannot hide, and our message is simple: You are next.
The warning comes after the president listed the group's top officials that had already been targeted and killed, including top leader Abu Sayyaf, second-in-command Haji Mutazz, and recruiter Junaid Hussain. Obama also outlined the four-pronged strategy that the U.S.-led coalition will continue to follow: hunting down and taking out terrorists, training and equipping the Syrian opposition, disrupting recruitment, financing, and propaganda, and continuing diplomacy to end the Syrian civil war.
Besides reiterating the U.S.'s ongoing efforts, Obama also announced a new development in raising coalition support from its allies in the Middle East:
All this said, we recognize that progress needs to keep coming faster. Just as the United States is doing more in this fight ... so must others. And that’s why I’ve asked secretary Carter to go to the Middle East ... to work with our coalition partners on securing more aid on this front.
Securing additional support would be crucial for a military campaign that has already significantly pushed back ISIS control in Iraq and Syria. Obama said that, as of Monday, the U.S. had launched nearly 9,000 airstrikes against ISIS, and that the group had lost "thousands of square miles of territory," or "about 40 percent of the populated areas it once controlled in Iraq." He then vowed that the group would lose more.
Obama also reassured that the Department of Homeland Security would ramp up its efforts for the holiday season to make sure that the American people are safe.
Though Obama adopted a decidedly more bellicose tone Monday, his previous message remains unchanged. We must not allow fear to divide us, because that's exactly what ISIS wants. Instead, Obama is attempting to cut off the group's campaign of terror at its source, which he described with this very vivid metaphor:
As we squeeze its heart, we’ll make it harder for ISIL to pump its propaganda to the rest of the world.