Obama Stumbles on Strategy: ISIS 'Manageable Problem'

Image: Obama Stumbles on Strategy: ISIS 'Manageable Problem' (Valda Kalnina/EPA/Landov)

Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 12:56 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Just one week after publicly announcing that the United States did not yet have a strategy to combat the threat of ISIS, President Barack Obama has indicated that the current goal of the U.S. effort in Iraq is to diminish the extremist group to "a manageable problem."

The comments, however, are raising further questions about whether the president has a clear and viable vision for countering the growing threat from the jihadists, after he also said the United States planned to "destroy" ISIS.

"We know that if we are joined by the internationally community, we can continue to shrink ISIL's sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem," Obama said during a speech Wednesday in Estonia, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Obama also said in the speech that the administration's objective was to "degrade and destroy" ISIS in Iraq, and that the United States had already been "moving effectively" to achieve that goal, The Hill reported.

The remarks are already creating a stir among critics who argue that the comments are contradictory.

Illinois GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger told "Fox and Friends" Wednesday that the president needed to decide whether the United States was going to "contain or crush" ISIS.

"That's the big question. Are we going to contain ISIS, or are we going to crush ISIS? And, the president has not answered that," he said.

Conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham also criticized Obama, saying his comments are nonsensical.

"When you hear the president talk about destroy and degrade [ISIS], that makes sense. When you hear the president talking about managing the problem, that doesn't make sense," Ingraham said on "Fox and Friends," according to Politico. "I mean, we manage all sorts of problems in our daily lives, this is not a manageable problem, this is a force of evil."

The Pentagon, however, has pushed back, saying that the statements are consistent with one another.

"It's actually both. And I know that sounds a little bit strange to hear," said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby, according to The Hill.

Kirby said the U.S. can degrade, disrupt, and destroy ISIS "targets" in Iraq but cannot destroy ISIS as an organization.

"The only way you're going to destroy an organization like this is by defeating their ideology," he said. "You can bomb them every day, and you're not going to get rid of the ideology that allows them to fester and to continue to get resources and to grow, to train and to equip."

"There's got to be a broader-based strategy, and we're working on that right now," he added.

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