It’s the world vs. ISIS, Obama says
President Obama on Saturday said the United States will lead the fight against Islamic militants in the Middle East, but the struggle is one for all the world.
“Going forward, we won’t hesitate to take action against these terrorists in Iraq or in Syria. But this is not America’s fight alone,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “This isn’t America vs. ISIL. This is the people of that region vs. ISIL. It’s the world vs. ISIL.”
The comments reflect the delicate task Obama faces as he seeks to solidify a strategy for confronting the militants representing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as ISIL.
On one hand, the president wants to be aggressive in confronting the fast-growing terrorist group, known for acts that include the videotaped beheadings of American and British prisoners. On the other, he wants to assure a war-weary American public that he has no intention of entrenching the country in another prolonged, bloody and expensive conflict like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Attempting to thread that needle, Obama on Saturday amplified earlier vows not to deploy U.S. ground troops as part of the fight.
“I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria. It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures,” he said. “We will use our air power. We will train and equip our partners. We will advise and we will assist. And we’ll lead a broad coalition of nations who have a stake in this fight.”
Congress this week gave Obama a rare bipartisan victory when both chambers overwhelmingly approved new authority for the president to use U.S. forces to train and equip Syrian rebels fighting both the ISIS militants and the dictatorial regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He thanked Congress again for the support in his weekly address.
“Those votes sent a powerful signal to the world: Americans are united in confronting this danger,” he said.
Still, the vote was not without plenty of contention, as scores of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans balked at the notion of granting Obama new war powers without congressional authorization.
“The president,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said Thursday, “essentially declared war.”
A series of conflicting statements from top administration officials about the nature of Obama’s strategy only fueled the skeptics on Capitol Hill, many of whom are calling for Congress to take up a much broader use-of-force resolution when lawmakers return to Washington after November’s midterm elections.
Meanwhile, Obama is at once stressing the international nature of the fight while lobbying foreign governments to join in.
Toward that end, the president is scheduled to be in New York City Wednesday to address the United Nations General Assembly on the topic of confronting ISIS.
“Over 40 countries have offered to help the broad campaign against ISIL so far – from training and equipment, to humanitarian relief, to flying combat missions,” Obama said. “And this week, at the United Nations, I’ll continue to rally the world against this threat.”