Manage Problem or Destroy?: Obama Strikes Different Tones on ISIS
President Obama spoke Wednesday morning from Estonia following the beheading of a second American journalist by ISIS terrorists. His remarks came as the U.S. confirmed that a video of the murder of Steven Sotloff was authentic.
Obama promised there would be "justice" for the "barbaric" murder by ISIS, then struck a strong tone on possible action against ISIS.
"The bottom line is this: Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so it is no longer a threat not just to Iraq, but also the region and to the United States."
Later, however, he seemed to soften that tone and spoke of reducing ISIS to a "manageable problem" with regard to the ISIS threat.
"We know if we are joined by the international community we can continue to shrink ISIL's sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem. And the question is going to be making sure we’ve got the right strategy, but also making sure we’ve got the international will to do it," said Obama.
The remarks came less than a week after Obama was criticized for saying there was no strategy yet for dealing with ISIS. On its cover this morning, the New York Daily News featured Sotloff and the ISIS executioner under the headline "Do You Have a Strategy Now, Mr. President?"
Bill Hemmer got some reaction to Obama's remarks from FoxNews.com digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt, who noted that it appears the president is not comfortable right now talking to the American people about the strategy against ISIS.
"That's problematic because when he says things like 'manageable,' Americans don't think about beheadings ... in manageability," he said, adding that Americans think more along the lines of "crushing" ISIS, similar to the remarks Friday by British PM David Cameron.
Stirewalt pointed out that Obama sends a confused message when he orders more and more Americans to go to Iraq, but not as combat troops.
"It's indicative of a president who finds that the world situation does not comport with the political reality that elected him once and re-elected him a second time," said Stirewalt.
He described the president as an "apologist for U.S. intervention" rather than an "enthusiast for U.S. victory."
Watch the full discussion above.