Obama: US 'doing exactly what we should be doing' in ISIS fight

President Obama defended his campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in an interview airing Monday, saying the U.S. was “doing exactly what we should be doing” to fight the terror network.

ADVERTISEMENT

Obama said critics of his strategy would have the U.S. redeploy tens of thousands of U.S. troops, but that ultimately such an effort would prove ineffective without local support. Presently, the U.S. and coalition partners’ military efforts against ISIS have been largely limited to airstrikes in support of Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, as well as Syrian rebel groups.

“It is entirely possible for us to deploy 200 or 300,000 U.S. troops,” Obama said in the interview with NBC’s “Today” show. “If we don’t have inside of Iraq, or inside of Syria, or inside of Afghanistan both the capacity and will of people to fight for themselves, then any gains that are made eventually dissipate. So this takes longer, but it’s the right way to do things.”

He added that “those who want us to shoot first and aim later” were typically the ones to “get this country into really bad situations,” and that his administration was doing everything it could short of that.

“Anything that we could be doing, we are doing,” he said.

The president conceded that he was deeply affected by ISIS hostage videos depicting the brutal assassination of foreign journalists and aid workers, but said that the terror organization was only galvanizing international opposition.

“It’s part of the reason why I think we've been so successful in organizing such a broad-based coalition,” Obama said.

More generally, the president said that, despite the rise of ISIS, he believed the country was safer under his watch.

"We have been pretty darn successful in making sure that we contain these organizations,” Obama said, adding that “doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned about the breakdown of order in this region.”