President Obama to Outline ISIS Strategy Wednesday, and He Doesn't Want You to Worry
Maybe this will clarify some things going forward? After over a week of criticism and questions, following his statement that the U.S. had "no strategy" for dealing with ISIS, President Obama will be speaking publicly on his plan to combat the Islamic militant group. As revealed in his Meet The Press interview with Chuck Todd Sunday, Obama will deliver a major address on ISIS Wednesday, outlining a widespread effort to "hunt down" their members and assets. NBC News reports that it's not expected as a prime time address, but that really doesn't matter. Whatever the time, you can rest assured the whole world will be watching.
The heat on Obama to outline a detailed strategy, whether you agree with it or not, can't be overlooked in all this. There's no way to know for sure whether this address would be happening so soon, if not for the intensifying pressure created by ISIS' high-profile activities.
This became especially intense after a video of ISIS' execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff was released on Sept. 2, a grisly display basically identical to their earlier video depicting the killing of James Foley. At the conclusion of Sotloff's execution video a third hostage, Briton David Haines, was threatened.
On Meet The Press, Obama went over some of the essential, large-scale policy questions that Americans are likely to be concerned about in engaging ISIS. While he didn't give a precise indication how extensive the engagement could end up being — Chuck Todd's straightforward question of "Are you preparing the country to go back to war?" didn't get a real answer — he insisted that he won't commit ground forces to fighting ISIS militants.
We are going to be, as part of an international coalition, carrying out airstrikes in support of work on the ground by Iraqi troops, Kurdish troops. We are going to be helping to put together a plan, for them, so that they can start retaking territory that ISIL had taken.
In particular, he warned against any American troops touching the ground in Syria, which he called a "profound mistake" — a clear rebuke to critics like Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham, who authored an op-ed in The New York Times calling for a more aggressive confrontation last week.
So, basically, it sounds like you can expect a familiar formula from Obama's upcoming address: a ramping-up of air strikes against ISIS infrastructure and membership, support for local military forces, and a real rhetorical emphasis on coalition-building. The air-strikes aren't new, exactly — it was U.S. strikes that broke ISIS' control over the Mosul Dam on Aug. 17. But as he told Todd in their interview, he believes this level of targeted escalation, in the long-run, will end up rattling ISIS apart.
Over the course of months, we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of ISIL, we are going to systematically degrade their capabilities, we're going to shrink the territory that they control, and that's how we're going to defeat them.
He also stated that current intelligence didn't suggest any active plot by ISIS to launch an attack on American soil, though he added that this could change if its activities go undeterred abroad.
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