White House urges patience on ISIS fight

White House urges patience on ISIS fight
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The White House on Tuesday defended its strategy in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for the third straight day following the group’s takeover of Ramadi, Iraq.

Press secretary Josh Earnest urged critics of the White House’s plan to “maintain perspective” on the broader effort to defeat the militant group.

He also said President Obama is constantly looking at ways to “tweak” his war strategy “just about every day, including today.”


“Over the past four or five days … we have seen there are no quick fixes involved,” Earnest told reporters Tuesday. “We have seen important progress that has been made, but there have also been periods of setback.”

When asked whether Obama's strategy against ISIS has been a success, Earnest said, "overall, yes."

Later Tuesday, Obama met with more than two dozen members of the National Security Council to discuss the military campaign against ISIS.

The president "reaffirmed" the U.S.' commitment to aiding Iraq's effort to fight the group, according to a White House statement, but no new strategy was announced.

The White House’s anti-ISIS strategy, which relies on coalition airstrikes and training Iraqi forces to fight the ground war, has come under fire since the group took control of Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi last weekend. 

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday the president should scrap his war powers request to Congress and come up with a new plan that contains a more aggressive strategy. 

"Congress has been AWOL on the AUMF," Earnest said. "At some point, it has to be the responsibility of the Speaker of the House to do his job.”

Earnest accused Boehner of making “excuse after excuse for not doing his job.” 

Congressional inaction on the administration's request for authorization of its military campaign against ISIS "has been a source of significant disappointment to the president," he added.

Earnest acknowledged the fall of Ramadi was a “setback” but said, “that doesn’t mean the strategy needs to be discarded.” 

He pointed to successful efforts to push back ISIS fighters in the Syrian city of Kobani, Tikrit and Mosul Dam in Iraq, and Sinjar Mountain in Kurdish-controlled regions. 

Earnest said that victories and defeats are “something we anticipate we will see over the course of this military campaign.”

“That is an indication that while we have certain periods of setback, we have days of progress,” he said. 

Earnest said enough credit isn't given when coalition forces have success. 

“Are we going to light our hair on fire every time there is a setback against ISIL?" he said, using an alternate name for the group.

This story was last updated at 6:19 p.m.