President Barack Obama laid out his strategy against ISIS in a rare prime-time address to the nation tonight, vowing that the terrorist organization will find “no safe haven” if they threaten the United States.
Obama’s speech detailed his decision to send 475 additional troops to Iraq to “assist that country’s besieged security forces,” according to the Assosciated Press. The president made it clear, however, that there will not be a combat mission, saying that the U.S. will “not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” The speech addressed the recent beheadings of two American journalists, Steven Sotloff and James Foley, and strongly acknowledged the threat that ISIS poses to the Middle East.
The President called on congress to support the effort to “degrade” ISIS, saying “I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”
Speaking more specifically about his plan of action against ISIS and reiterating his insistence that there will be no combat troops on the ground, Obama compared the counter-terrorism strategy to ones used in Somalia and Yemen. “This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
President Obama also called for stronger involvement from foreign countries in the efforts against ISIS, and added that Secretary of State John Kerry was currently traveling to gain support for the “systematic campaign of airstrikes” that will be conducted. Obama specified that Kerry “will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria to drive these terrorists from their lands”.
Obama’s address impressed upon viewers that while the diplomatic and military efforts against ISIS will not involve direct combat, “there are risks involved – especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions.” American forces have been launching limited airstrikes against targets in Iraq since earlier this summer, though President Obama’s newly-announced strategy specifically plans to broaden those actions and extend them into Syria.
The President gave his speech amid grave concern from much of the American public that an attack against the U.S. by ISIS could be possible. Obama stressed, however, that while there is a potential threat beyond the Middle East region, there is currently no knowledge of a specific threat to the U.S.
President Barack Obama’s address also highlighted concern amongst U.S. citizens that a large number of foreigners, both European and American, have been fighting alongside ISIS and “could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.” Obama detailed efforts already made to fight these forces, and assured that the threat of ISIS allies potentially on American soil has not been taken lightly.
“The United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve,” the President said. “Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. Since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.”
The full transcript of Barack Obama’s address to the nation is available here.
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