In some of his most extensive comments yet about his administration’s approach to combatting the bloodthirsty jihadist group, Obama acknowledged Sunday it was ‘absolutely true’ that America didn’t fully understand the dire nature of ISIS. But then he slammed other countries for failing to help nations in need. ‘When trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us,’ he said.
We blew it on ISIS — but at least we’re cleaning up the world’s messes.
President Obama admitted in an interview Sunday that the U.S. “underestimated” the Islamic State — but then he abandoned his trademark cool diplomacy to take a shot at other supposed superpowers for failing to get going when the going gets tough.
“When trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us,” Obama said on “60 Minutes.”
“That’s how we roll,” the President added.
The exchange with CBS correspondent Steve Kroft came after Obama admitted that the U.S. grossly “underestimated” the ISIS threat.
That’s true, that’s absolutely true,” Obama responded when asked if he agreed that the U.S. had misjudged the bloodthirsty militants, as well as the dependability of our Iraqi allies, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said.
“Jim Clappper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Obama said.
The admission came during some of the President’s most candid remarks to date about the jihadist group’s rapid rise — and his most brash language about American exceptionalism.
“When there’s a typhoon in the Philippines, take a look at who’s helping the Philippines deal with that situation,” the President said. “When there’s an earthquake in Haiti, take a look at who’s leading the charge and making sure Haiti can rebuild.”
The saber-rattling came just one month after Russian strongman Vladimir Putin reminded the world of his formidable nuclear arsenal and said, “Russia’s partners should understand it’s best not to mess with us.”
In discussing the rise of ISIS, Obama said the group found a perfect breeding ground in blood-soaked — and largely lawless — Syria.
“During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you had huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,” Obama said.
ISIS is “sort of a hybrid of not just the terrorist network, but one with territorial ambitions, and some of the strategy and tactics of an army,” Obama said.
As the vicious fighters swept through Iraq in June, the group’s savvy propaganda machine touted each victory, attracting new members.
ISIS was able to “attract foreign fighters who believed in their jihadist nonsense and traveled everywhere from Europe to the United States to Australia to other parts of the Muslim world,” Obama said.
“And so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world.”
Now, military advisers have told the President ISIS boasts as many as 40,000 fighters who swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s goal of creating a new Islamic caliphate.
Earlier this month, Obama announced the U.S. would work with allies in the Middle East to directly engage the jihadist group, a plan that relies heavily on air strikes on ISIS targets across Iraq and Syria.
Obama has repeatedly ruled out putting U.S. troops on the ground.
“We just have to push them back, and shrink their space, and go after their command and control, and their capacity, and their weapons, and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters,” he said.
He reiterated American hopes that Iraq’s army could fight ISIS on the ground — though the New York Times later reported that the army is so depleted of experienced fighters that it is offering amnesty to former deserters.
House Speaker John Boehner said Obama’s plan to keep America off the battlefield isn’t enough to stop ISIS.
“It’s gonna take more than air strikes to drive them out of there,” the Ohio Republican said on ABC’s “This Week.” “At some point somebody’s boots have to be on the ground … These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. And if we don’t destroy them first, we’re gonna pay the price.”
New York Daily News