Obama Says U.S. Should Avoid Another Ground War In The Middle East
CBS News – Declaring that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or ISIL) “is going to lose,” President Obama outlined the request he sent Congress Wednesday to formally authorize war against the militant group that has swept across parts of the Middle East.
The proposal, which the White House submitted to Congress Wednesday morning, authorizes the president to fight ISIS for three years with no restriction on where U.S. forces can go. It bans “enduring offensive combat operations,” an ambiguous term that seeks to bridge the differences between Democrats who fear another prolonged ground war in the Middle East and Republicans who have urged the administration to do whatever it takes to destroy the group.
“The resolution we submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war like Afghanistan or Iraq,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m convinced the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East. That’s not in our national security interests and it’s not necessary for us to defeat ISIL.”
The president said the legislation “strikes the necessary balance” by focusing on local forces to do on-the-ground battle against ISIS while still allowing the U.S. “the flexibility we need for unforeseen circumstances.” He cited as an example a situation where the U.S. had actionable intelligence about a gathering of ISIS leaders, but its partners were unable to take them out.
“I would be prepared to order our special forces to take action because I will not allow these terrorists to have a safe haven,” Mr. Obama said. “We need flexibility but we also have to be careful and deliberate. And there’s no heavier decision than asking our men and women and uniform to risk their lives on our behalf.”
The legislation also revokes the 2002 authorization for the war in Iraq, which had been the basis for U.S. operations in the region. The president said he does “no believe America’s interests are served by endless war or by remaining on a perpetual war footing.”
The president was accompanied by Vice President Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.