Obama announces ISIS strategy, students react

Derek Richardson, [email protected] washburn.edu, is a junior mass meida major.

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil, President Barack Obama went primetime to address the nation about the United States’ strategy against a terrorist organization many officials have deemed a bigger threat than Al Qaeda-The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS.

The President announced that the US military would begin systematic airstrikes that allow the Iraqi military to go on the offensive.

“I will not hesitate to take action against ISIS in Syria, as well as Iraq,” said Obama during his speech.

The commander-in-chief also announced that he would send an additional 475 service members to Iraq, making it clear that they would not have a combat mission. Their mission, according to Obama, would be supportive in nature and they would be there primarily to support and train the Iraqi and Kurdish forces, while also providing intelligence and equipment.

He also asked that congress give him additional authorities and resources to train and equip the Syrian opposition towards ISIS. Additionally, the United States would ramp up counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks, as well as provide humanitarian aid to civilians that have been displaced.

The speech came after a summer of bloodshed and unrest by ISIS in Syria and Iraq that included public crucifixions and the destruction of holy sites, with thousands of civilians being killed and even more being driven from their homes. They took several cities, including Mosul, which is Iraq’s second largest city by population. It became clear very quickly, that they had a larger force than anybody had anticipated, well into the thousands, which overwhelmed the Iraqi military. Quickly, other Sunni sects began to join the Sunni ISIS, pledging their allegiance. Iraq’s government by contrast is predominantly Shia.

The group, which was disavowed by Al Qaeda earlier this year, sent a shocking message to the world by beheading American journalists James Foley on Aug. 19.

During a White House press briefing on Aug. 28, when asked about what steps the United States would take against ISIS, the president admitted that no strategy had been put into place at the time. It would be nearly two weeks, during which time another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, was beheaded, before Obama publically announced a plan of action; something for which his administration was widely criticized.

“It’s been synonymous with what this term for Obama has been; a lot of delay, then thinking of actions a little late,” said WU freshman Cameron Crouch. “I understand that in his current position, he has more knowledge than we do and he has more things to think about than we do.”

Crouch says he trusts the judgment of the President and his advisers, but did not like the presentation.

“I think he is a phenomenal speaker, don’t get me wrong,” said Crouch. “His wording, though, is what causes such controversy. He’s trying to be as specific, yet vague as possible.”

Aaron Morris, freshman, thinks that the United States shouldn’t get involved.

“In general, I just think that the US government is overreaching everything.”

When asked about whether he think’s there is a solution he said, “I’m not qualified to say.”