President Obama will lay out his plans for dealing with ISIS in a speech on Wednesday, but those plans will not include a major ground offensive, he said in an interview on “Meet the Press” Sunday.
“This is not going to be an announcement of U.S. ground troops,” Obama told host Chuck Todd. Upcoming military action will likely include further air strikes and efforts to shore up Iraqi forces. “The next phase is now to start going on some offense,” the president said. ”It will be “similar to counterterrorism campaigns that we’ve been engaging in consistently over the last four, five years.”
But, Obama continued, military action will play a supporting role to local forces in Iraq and Syria. “We can’t deal with this threat to have the United States serially occupy every country in the Middle East.”
Military officials confirmed Sunday that it launched airstrikes in Iraq last Saturday to stop ISIS from advancing on a key dam in the western part of the country.
The president also tried to explain his decision to delay any executive action on immigration reform until after the election. The surge of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America arriving at the U.S. border changed the optics of the issue.“I want to spend some time, even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action. I also want to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this, why it’s the right thing for the American people, why it’s the right thing for the American economy,” he said.
Delaying immigration reform until after election day, when Democrats are looking likely to lose control of the Senate, could still lead to furious Republican criticism, and bipartisan legislation on this and other economic questions will be threatened if the GOP gains control of both houses of Congress.
“Give me a loyal opposition that has some common sense and are willing to work on some basic issues,” he said.
Obama also acknowledged the political performance of the job, after he took heat for going golfing after making a statement about the death of journalist James Foley. “Part of this job is the theater of it,” he said. “This is not something that always comes naturally to me, but it matters, and I’m mindful of that.”