Obama’s ISIS strategy ‘highly dangerous’
(The Washington Free Beacon) -- President Obama’s containment strategy against the Islamic State has failed to prevent the terrorist group from launching further attacks, destabilizing the Middle East and potentially posing a threat to the U.S. homeland, critics say.
In an interview with ABC on Thursday, Obama said that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) is not “gaining strength.”
“From the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them,” he said. “They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave.”
“But you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain,” he continued. “What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures.”
However, analysts increasingly say that while the Islamic State has not dramatically expanded the amount of territory it controls in recent weeks, it continues to conduct devastating attacks and attract followers across the region. The group is the suspected culprit behind the takedown of a Russian plane last month and the suicide bombings in Lebanon on Thursday, both of which killed dozens of people, and now has affiliates in Afghanistan, Libya, and the Sinai.
Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and several other Middle Eastern countries during multiple presidential administrations, noted on Friday that Obama originally said he wanted to “degrade and defeat” the Islamic State.
“It looks to me that rather than a strategy of degrade and defeat, we are pursuing a strategy of containment,” Crocker told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “I think that’s highly dangerous.”
“The Islamic State is aiming at the disintegration, the destruction of the whole state system in the Middle East,” he added. “They may now be aiming at targets outside the Middle East, so I think containment is a perilous course.”
The destruction of the Russian airliner in particular is “deeply disturbing,” Crocker said. All 224 passengers and crew died in the crash, which could mark a turning point for the Islamic State as it begins to target nations beyond the Middle East.
“If they are now moving into that phase, we are facing a real strategic threat that goes far beyond the region,” Crocker said. “We need to figure out how to counter it. I don’t think we have so far.”