Obama to launch airstrikes in Syria for first time


  • WASHINGTON (AP) — Opening a new military front in the Middle East, President Barack Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria for the first time Wednesday night, along with expanded strikes in Iraq as part of a broad mission to root out the violent Islamic State militants whose reign of terror has spread across both countries.

    "We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are," Obama declared in a prime-time address to the nation from the White House. "This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."

    Obama announced that he was dispatching nearly 500 more U.S. troops to Iraq to assist that country's besieged security forces, bringing the total number of American forces sent there this summer to more than 1,000. He also called on Congress to authorize a program to train and arm Syrian rebels who are fighting both the Islamic State militants and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    Obama's plans amounted to a striking shift for a president who rose to political prominence in part because of his early opposition to the Iraq war. While in office, he has steadfastly sought to wind down American military campaigns in the Middle East and avoid new wars — particularly in Syria, a country where the chaos of an intractable civil war has given the Islamic State space to thrive and move freely across the border with Iraq.

    Speaking on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama's plans were also an admission that years of American-led war in the Middle East have not quelled the terror threat emanating from the region.

    Obama insisted he was not returning U.S. combat troops to the Middle East. Even so, he acknowledged that "any time we take military action, there are risks involved, especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions."

    "But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil," he added.
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  • President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Cross Hall in the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. In a major reversal, Obama ordered the United States into a broad military campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” militants in two volatile Middle East nations, authorizing airstrikes inside Syria for the first time, as well as an expansion of strikes in Iraq. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)

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  • Obama outlining mission to fight Islamic militants
    The Associated Press

    In an address to the nation, President Barack Obama will outline an expanded military and political effort to combat Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, possibly including airstrikes in Syria, officials said.

    The president will also urge Congress to quickly give him authority to arm moderate Syrian opposition forces fighting President Bashar Assad.

    But administration officials said Obama will press forward with other elements of his plan without formal authorization from lawmakers. That could include wide-ranging airstrikes in Iraq and possibly in Syria. Other elements of Obama's plan, which he was to lay out in a prime-time TV speech Wednesday, included increased support for Iraqi security forces, as well as military and diplomatic commitments from partners in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
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  • Some Minnesotans in Congress support airstrikes against ISIS
    Brett Neely, MPR News
    Democrats and Republicans agree on very little these days. But opposing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has massacred thousands and beheaded two American journalists, is a cause members of both parties can get behind.

    U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican who represents Minnesota's 2nd District, said he hopes the president explains the threat represented by ISIS. Kline, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said the group is more dangerous than the terrorist group al-Qaida.

    "There are more of them. They are extremely well funded, extremely well equipped," Kline said. "They are battle hardened, they are intent and they are very explicit in saying they want to wash us in blood."

    Airstrikes by the U.S. military have helped Iraqi forces regain some ground against ISIS. U.S. Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat who supports the airstrikes, said in an interview last week that he would back the use of American airpower in Syria, where ISIS also controls territory.

    "I think that we have to definitely consider airstrikes there," Franken said. "What we don't want to do is get mired into a land war where we're sending combat troops." [Read or listen to the rest of Neely's report]
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  • Kerry in Baghdad meeting with speaker of Iraq's parliament Salim al-Jabouri http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BxK7_XPCQAMrQTf.jpg

  • John Kerry: "ISIL is a manifestation of evil. A vicious, terrorist organization." #Iraq
  • John Kerry: "We’ll provide another $48 million to UN agencies, organizations and NGOs working to save lives and alleviate suffering." #Iraq
  • John Kerry makes repeated references to the Islamic State's "violent brand of distortion" that he says bears no resemblance to Islam. #Iraq
  • Kerry: "This is a broad based, comprehensive strategy that is being laid out. It will not just be reserved to bombs or military assistance."
  • ISIS Tweets Call for Assassination of Twitter Employees

    Extremists linked to ISIS tell "lone wolves" to target employees of the social network
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  • War weary U.S. growing supportive of action
    Scott Neuman, NPR

    Opinion polls show growing support for action against the militant group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which has made significant territorial gains in Iraq and shocked the American public with its gruesome murders of two U.S. journalists.

    Last week, the U.S. announced a core coalition — consisting of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark — aimed at containing the Islamic State.

    "We're now at the stage of beginning to build a broad-based coalition," Reuters quotes a senior U.S. State Department official as saying. "There is, of course, military support, and that's everything from logistics and intelligence and airlifts and all the things it takes to conduct an effective military campaign." [Read more from Neuman on Secretary of State Kerry's visit to Iraq]
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  • Franken wants to monitor Minnesotans with ties to ISIS: ow.ly/B0jDr
  • Senate plan would aid foreign troops fighting ISIS

    "Senate Democratic leaders are preparing legislation to expressly authorize the United States military to train foreign troops for the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a move that will give lawmakers a chance to weigh in on the looming military action before the midterm elections," write Jonathan Weisman and Mark Landler in the New York Times.
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  • How far will President Obama go?
    Greg Myre, NPR

    President Obama previewed his plan for dealing with the Islamic State by comparing it to counterterrorism operations in recent years and said it would not be an invasion akin to the ground war in Iraq.

    As he prepares to lay out the details in a speech to the nation Wednesday night, several key factors are likely to determine the success or failure of any military mission.

    1. How much can be accomplished with air power alone?

    The U.S. has already carried out nearly 150 airstrikes in northern Iraq in a limited campaign that has halted the Islamic State advance and driven it back in key places like the Mosul dam.

    Obama will be looking to build on this success and is expected to broaden the air campaign in Iraq while possibly extending it to Syria. In both countries, Islamic State fighters are vulnerable and exposed when moving over flat desert terrain to and from the cities they control along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

    But air power has its limits. Bombing alone is unlikely to chase the Islamic State out of big cities like Mosul, and the president has emphatically ruled out sending in ground troops.

    Robert Scales, a retired major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, acknowledges that the U.S. public won't support a major land war. But he and others are already arguing for the use of small teams of U.S. Special Operations forces.

    "The Islamic State cannot be defeated by diplomacy, sanctions, coalitions or political maneuverings," writes Scales. "The only sure means for defeating the group is with a renewed, expanded and overwhelming legion of capable special fighters who have learned through painful trial and error how to do the job."

    2. Can the U.S. find effective allies on the ground?

    The crisis in Iraq is largely a result of the weak military that dropped its weapons and fled when the Islamic State came rampaging into the country. The U.S. trained the Iraqi military for years, but its quality declined after the U.S. left in 2011 and many senior officers were sacked. It's not clear how Iraq will be able to turn its military around in the short term.

    "Before the United States assumes a broader imperial mission, it should demand more of those in the region that are most directly threatened by ISIS," writes Brian Jenkins, a counterterrorism expert.

    "Iraq's army has not won a single battle and cries for American help. If Iraq cannot defend itself with nearly 300,000 men under arms, can America protect it?" he adds.

    Things are a bit brighter in northern Iraq, where the U.S. is allied with the Kurdish peshmerga militias, who are considered a competent fighting force and have been working with the U.S. to retake areas bombed by the Americans. This would be the model the U.S. would like to replicate, but that may prove a tall task, especially in Syria.

    The U.S. has been talking about helping "moderate" Syrian rebels for the past couple years, but has provided only minimal assistance so far. In Syria's brutal war, the moderates are getting increasingly hard to find and their presence on the battlefield has been steadily shrinking as the war grinds on.

    3. Will there be a strong political coalition that includes European and Arab states?

    Obama said nine Western nations and Turkey have signed on to counter the Islamic State. Some European states are already sending weapons to Iraq, but there's no indication so far that they will take part in airstrikes or other military missions.

    Another complication is that members of the coalition may have different agendas. For European countries, the main concern may be preventing European jihadists in the Middle East from returning home to carry out attacks. Aside from Turkey, none of the countries bordering Iraq or Syria have joined the coalition.

    Right now, the nascent coalition is united by an opposition to the Islamic State and the potential havoc it could wreak. But it could prove challenging for the U.S. to maintain broad international support over time.

    4. Are Americans prepared for another lengthy military campaign?

    Sixty-five percent of Americans now support airstrikes against Syria, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. That's more than double the number that felt that way a year ago when the president threatened to bomb Syria after it used chemical weapons.

    The recent beheadings of two American journalists by the Islamic State provoked outrage and contributed to this surge in support for military action. But that support could evaporate swiftly if things get messy.

    The U.S. is still winding down its longest war ever — the 13-year conflict in Afghanistan — and the administration and the military are already warning that the operation against the Islamic State could last for years.

    Also, the goal has been fuzzy. After saying he didn't have a strategy in Syria, the president is now saying the U.S. will seek to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State. As the U.S. found with battles against al-Qaida, the Taliban and others, that's a recipe for an open-ended mission.

    Foreign policy commentator Peter Beinart describes Obama as a "fierce minimalist" who is willing to use force and take risks against specific terrorism threats. The leading example is the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

    But Obama has resisted broader campaigns throughout his presidency.

    "The core of his military effort in Iraq and Syria, and throughout the greater Middle East, is narrow but aggressive anti-terrorism," Beinart writes in The Atlantic.

    5. What will the unintended consequences be?

    Even if a U.S. military effort goes well, the outcomes could be mixed. For example, assume the U.S. greatly weakens the Islamic State in Syria. The most likely beneficiary would be President Bashar Assad's regime — the same one the president was planning to bomb last year.

    Also, Iran will be cheering for a successful U.S. military campaign. Iran's Shiite leadership loathes the Sunni extremism of the Islamic State, which is currently threatening the governments of Iraq and Syria, both of which are friendly to Iran.

    At the moment, the Islamic State is preoccupied with taking territory in Iraq and Syria and building its self-proclaimed caliphate, or Islamic nation, according to many analysts. But if it comes under sustained U.S. attack, the Islamic State could place much greater emphasis on lashing out at U.S. targets.

    "Before the United States engages in what could be a long and messy military campaign, it might cool the alarmist and partisan rhetoric and coolly examine the threat the Islamic State poses to America's national security. It does not surpass every threat we have seen," according to Brian Jenkins, the counterterrorism expert.
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  • Reuters: Islamists in Benghazi likely kidnapped 25 missing soldiers
    "Islamists militants in Libya have probably kidnapped up to 25 soldiers who are missing in the eastern city of Benghazi and killed five others, an army commander said on Wednesday, as the two sides battled over control of the airport." [Read more]
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  • Vietnam War veteran and professor emeritus at Boston University, Andrew Bacevich, examines the state of the U.S. military, and the potential military strategy against ISIS. Bacevich, the author of “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country," says that President Obama's reluctance to enter into another full-scale war is well-justified. (via The Takeaway)

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  • House Minority Leader @NancyPelosi says she supports the WH request to authorize training moderate Syrian rebels, & wants it on the CR
  • Pelosi on her support of authoriz for training Syrian rebels:"I would hope that it would be part of a CR or if not some independent vehicle"
  • Obama's plan to destroy Islamic State extremists
    Associated Press

    President Barack Obama goes before the American people Wednesday night to lay out his plan to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State militants who have seized control of a huge stretch of Syria and Iraq. A look at his plan, the extremists and the campaign to defeat them.

    THE STRATEGY: Obama wants to step up both military and diplomatic efforts to counter the extremists. That means arming Syrian opposition forces and perhaps extending U.S. airstrikes into Syria. (The U.S. already is bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq.) He also wants to provide more support for Iraqi security forces. And he's pressing for an expanded global coalition of at least 40 nations united against the militants, with Sunni Arab allies and NATO member Turkey playing leading roles. The president is not proposing to send U.S. ground troops into combat.

    CONGRESS' ROLE: There will be plenty of debate in coming days about how much say Congress has in all of this. Already, House Republicans have rebuffed Obama's requests for explicit approval to train and equip Syrian rebels, although the Senate may give its OK. On the broader campaign to defeat the Islamic State group, Obama says he has the authority to proceed on his own. But there are mixed opinions about that within Congress.

    THE MILITANTS: The Islamic State group has seized one-third of Syria and Iraq and wants to create an Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by a strict form of Shariah law that orders women to stay inside their homes, bans music and punishes thieves by cutting off their hands, among other restrictions. Formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq, it is a Sunni-led group that emerged from the sectarian violence of the Iraq War and the Syrian civil war. In 2004, the State Department classified it a terrorist organization. The group, which recently beheaded two American journalists, has developed such a brutal reputation that in February it was disavowed even by the core al-Qaida organization. ISIS and ISIL are older acronyms for the same organization.

    THE THREAT: The Obama administration doesn't think the militants pose any immediate threat of an attack in the U.S. But it believes the group is a threat to the Middle East and could attack U.S. targets overseas. The U.S. also worries about the group training and radicalizing Americans who could later return to attack America.

    THE RESPONSE, SO FAR: The U.S. already has launched about 150 airstrikes on Islamic State targets inside Iraq, at the invitation of the Iraqi government. It also has sent military advisers, supplies and humanitarian aid to help Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces beat back the insurgents. Obama also is assembling an international coalition to take on the militants made up of the U.S., Canada, Australia and several European countries. Arab countries are meeting in Saudi Arabia on Thursday to discuss a parallel coalition.
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  • What should the U.S. do about ISIS?

    Today's QuestionIn an address to the nation, President Barack Obama will outline an expanded military and political effort to combat Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, possibly including airstrikes in Syria, officials said.
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  • What should Obama say about Islamic State?

    Tonight, President Obama will outline his strategy for dealing with the Islamic State. What are the options?
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  • Not everyone agrees that ISIS poses a serious threat to the US

    Public Radio InternationalNational security experts agree that ISIS is bad news, but is it such bad news that it warrants an American military intervention? With President Barack Obama set to address the nation on Wednesday, suggest further actions might be a mistake.
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  • Mosul residents will be listening closely to President Obama's speech

    Public Radio InternationalAmerican credibility is on the line as the US prepares to act against ISIS, but no one has more at stake than those who live in or have loved ones in the militant group's path. In the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, those people are eagerly awaiting President Obama's speech.
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  • Obama has convinced himself that this is a fight worth waging, despite a deep desire to escape the Middle East: theatlantic.com/international/…
  • POTUS speech on ISIS tonight timing out to less than 15 minutes, per a WH official.
  • WH pic of POTUS with National Security team meeting on ISIS ahead of this evening's speech: http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BxMffxPCcAAzxPE.jpg

  • The White House released the following excerpts ahead of President Obama’s speech Wednesday night outlining his strategy to defeat Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

    Excerpts of the President’s Address to the Nation

    As Prepared for Delivery

    “So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”



    “But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
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  • Obama: "As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people."
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  • Obama: "We can't erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm."
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  • Obama: "ISIL is not 'Islamic.' No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim."
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  • Obama: "In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality."
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  • Obama: "In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists—James Foley and Steven Sotloff."
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  • Obama: US meeting ISIL threats "with strength and resolve."
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  • Obama: "If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a greater threat beyond" Middle East, including US.
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  • Obama: "We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq."
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  • Obama: on IS: "We will redouble our efforts to cut off their funding."
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  • Obama: "The U.S. will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq"
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  • Obama: "My fellow Americans, we live in a time of great change. Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked."
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  • Obama: "It will take time to eradicate Islamic State, there are risks involved for US forces."
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  • Obama: "I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every day."
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  • Obama: "We welcome our responsibility to lead."
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  • Obama: "Our own safety – our own security – depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation"
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  • Obama: "America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden … we welcome our responsibility to lead.”
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  • At 14:05, Pres Obama's speech tonight slightly shorter than the 17:13 average of his previous 9 addresses to the Nation. -@markknoller
  • Transcript: President Obama On How U.S. Will Address Islamic State
    September 10, 2014 9:05 PM ET
    The prepared text of President Obama's speech, as released by the White House:

    My fellow Americans — tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

    As commander-in-chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We've targeted al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We've done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.

    Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That's why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the "Islamic State."

    Now let's make two things clear: ISIL is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria's civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

    In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists — Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

    So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region — including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners — including Europeans and some Americans — have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.

    I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve. Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. Since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

    But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. That's why I've insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.

    Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.

    First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we're hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

    Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. In June, I deployed several hundred American service members to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi Security Forces. Now that those teams have completed their work — and Iraq has formed a government — we will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. We will also support Iraq's efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL control.

    Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I again call on Congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria's crisis once and for all.

    Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into — and out of — the Middle East. And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.

    Fourth, we will continue providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.

    This is our strategy. And in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity, and in the coming days he will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria to drive these terrorists from their lands. This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.

    My Administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.

    Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved — especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America's core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.

    My fellow Americans, we live in a time of great change. Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. Next week marks 6 years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. Yet despite these shocks; through the pain we have felt and the grueling work required to bounce back — America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.

    Our technology companies and universities are unmatched; our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it's been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day — and that makes me more confident than ever about our country's future.

    Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples' right to determine their own destiny. It is America — our scientists, our doctors, our know-how — that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria's declared chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to the Syrian people — or the world — again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.

    America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia — from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East — we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding. Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. I do so as a Commander-in-Chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform — pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and service-members who support our partners on the ground.

    When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here's what one of them said. "We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people."

    That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety — our own security — depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for — timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.

    May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.
    Comment ()
  • Reaction from Senator Ron Johnson to President Obama's speech n.pr/WWwq0V http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BxN0KRhIcAA5vCs.png

  • Klobuchar Statement on President Obama’s ISIL Address

    Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today made the following statement on President Obama’s address to the nation regarding ISIL.

    “Tonight the President made a clear national security case for why we need to take strong and decisive action against ISIL. I support targeted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as well as training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition, and I also think it’s critical that we work with our allies in the international community so we are united in our effort to defeat this terrorist organization. ISIL is pure evil and its threat hits right here at home. We saw that all too clearly when it was confirmed that a U.S. citizen killed while fighting for ISIL was from Minnesota. The best way to stop this recruitment in our state is to stop ISIL.”
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  • Progressive Caucus: Congress Must Weigh In On Action Against ISIL

    WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with CPC Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), released the following statement tonight after President Obama laid out his strategy to isolate and degrade the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a speech to the nation.

    “Congress must weigh in when it comes to confronting ISIL through military action. The voices of the American people must be heard during a full and robust debate in Congress on the use of military force. Speaker Boehner should put legislation authorizing military action on the floor of the House of Representatives before Congress leaves for the upcoming district work period.”
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