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Ashton Carter: Too Early to Say US Winning War Against ISIS

Image: Ashton Carter: Too Early to Say US Winning War Against ISIS
(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 31 Mar 2015 12:24 PM

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says he's "confident" the United States and its allies can defeat the Islamic State, but says victory may take time.

"I think it’s too early to say that we’re winning, but I think we have certainly inflicted a lot of damage," he said Tuesday morning on NBC’s "Today Show."

Carter conceded that it will take "some time to inflict defeat" upon the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), and how soon will depend upon how quickly the U.S. can build a coalition to fight the terrorist group.

"We’re still building the coalition and building the forces, and that’s why I’m hesitant to say we’re winning. I’m confident we will win," said Carter, who is Obama's fourth defense secretary in six years.

"It is the lasting nature of the defeat that is really key," he concluded.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was "confident that over time we will beat, we will indeed degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL" despite recent gains by the terrorist group.

"What I said was we’re on the road to success, and that begins in Iraq, and yes, I stand by it. We are growing in the capacity on the ground, Martha. Each time the Iraqis have now gone forward in an offensive effort together with allies, the coalition, we have routed ISIL. And the fact is that in Iraq, they have gained back a fixed, significant percentage of the area that ISIL was controlling," Kerry said during an interview with Martha Raddatz on ABC News' "This Week."

Recent polls show that administration officials' confidence is not shared by a growing majority of the American people.

The latest Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters found that only 25 percent now feel the U.S. is winning the war, while 38 percent say ISIS is winning.

Voters also are losing faith in how the Obama administration is dealing with ISIS. In a February Rasmussen poll, 38 percent approved of the president's handling of the war, but only 34 percent expressed approval in the latest survey.

Conversely, 42 percent say Obama is doing a poor job of handling ISIS, an increase from 35 percent in a September poll.

Shortly after he was sworn in, Carter told reporters that the administration has the "right ingredients of a strategy" to combat ISIS and that efforts to date have had "some important impacts," according to Reuters.

In addition to the long war against ISIS, analysts say the information war also is being lost.

In February, Michael Steinbach, the head of the FBI's counterterrorism division told lawmakers that in terms of the social media war, the U.S. is "losing the battle" against ISIS, reported ABC News.

"ISIL has proven to be relentless and continues to terrorize individuals in Syria and Iraq, including Westerners. We are concerned about the possibility of homegrown extremists becoming radicalized by information available on the Internet," Steinbach said in a statement to the House Judiciary Committee.

ISIS, he added, has "proven dangerously competent like no other group before it at employing [online] tools for its nefarious strategy."

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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says he's "confident" the United States and its allies can defeat the Islamic State, but says victory may take time.
Ashton Carter, Today, ISIS, war, United States
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2015-24-31
Tuesday, 31 Mar 2015 12:24 PM
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