For more than a week, President Obama has attempted to sell lawmakers and the American public on his strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Now, he’s taking his pitch to the United Nations to drum up international support behind the U.S.’s campaign against the terrorist group that has recently shown gruesome acts of violence, including the beheading of three innocent people.
Though the Obama administration appeared optimistic that the U.S. was gaining international backing after Secretary of State John Kerry returned from meeting with leaders from the U.N. Security Council on Friday, the president’s Council session on Wednesday will be a crucial test in shoring up aid from allies that are reluctant to join yet another U.S.-led campaign fighting terrorist groups in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, foreign policy and national security experts attempt to grapple with new strategies for defeating another terrorist threat in Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said Sunday that Kerry this week received an outpouring of support from more than 40 countries. France agreed last week to supplement airstrikes in Iraq, while Saudi Arabia has agreed to host bases used for training the Syrian rebels. And though no country has explicitly agreed to join the United States in launching airstrikes in Syria, Power predicted on ABC’s “This Week” that the U.S. would not be acting alone once it initiates it’s campaign against ISIS.
“We’re seeing a diverse range of forms of support and the commitments are coming everyday,” Power said on “Meet the Press,” where she also appeared Sunday.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he agreed the U.S. was right to take on the terrorist group, but he acknowledged that inevitably, it will likely take ground troops and not just air strikes to defeat ISIS.
“We’ve got absolutely no choice but to do this and not just in order to destroy the onward march of ISIS, but to send a very strong signal to the other terrorist groups operating in the region. We intend to take action and see it though,” Blair said.
President Obama’s address before the U.N. comes after he signed a controversial proposal into law Friday in which Congress agreed to arm and train moderate Syrian rebel groups in efforts to ward off ISIS on the ground. Though the legislation sailed through both the House and Senate this week, there was strong opposition from both parties as lawmakers took issue with arming the so-called “moderate” rebel groups.
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who voted against the proposal, questioned Sunday on “Meet the Press” whether the countries joining the anti-ISIS coalition and around the region were dedicated to taking out the terrorist group.
“Whenever we kill an extremist, a number one or two will take their place,” Murphy said. “So, ultimately, you have to get the regional powers to be just as committed. They aren’t as committed as the United States.”
The president meanwhile has remained adamant that the United States would not be sending troops on the ground in combat. But Obama’s message was muddled this week after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said that sending boots on the ground was still an option on the table.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicted that Obama will need to send combat troops in pursing his “very ambitions” goal of destroying ISIS.
“But what the administration is trying to communicate is that we are not going to send battalions, we are not going to send brigades, but that there will have to be with the mission the president has assigned, some American boots on the ground and in harms way,” Gates said on “This Week.”