Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Obama on ISIS: ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy’ (Updated) (Video)

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/File Photo)

Obama said he hasn’t finalized a strategy for dealing with the jihadi insurgents who control parts of Syria and Iraq. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/File Photo)

Updated 6:26 p.m. | President Barack Obama said Thursday it’s premature to go to Congress to authorize a strategy to defeat ISIS — because he doesn’t have one yet.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama told reporters after being asked about striking ISIS in Syria, saying he didn’t want to “put the cart before the horse.”

The line — sure to be repeated often by his critics — came as Republicans have been repeatedly demanding a strategy to defeat ISIS.

Obama said he’s asked the military for options to take on ISIS, but a decision to expand strikes into Syria isn’t imminent and he suggested it would not happen before Congress returns from recess.

He said there was a role for Congress to play once that strategy is in place. But he said that he didn’t wait for Congress before launching airstrikes in Iraq because he had a responsibility to protect the American people and could not wait. He said that he has consulted with Congress on his actions to date and that feedback has been positive.“There will be a military aspect” to fighting the Islamic State, and it “will be important for Congress to know what this is, in part because it might cost some money,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., quickly responded with a demand for a regional strategy to defeat the Islamic State and for Obama to attack it.

“The President needs to develop a regional strategy, working with our allies, to defeat ISIL and to use the full extent of his authorities to attack this enemy force. The President needs to present this plan to the Congress, and the American people, and where the President believes he lacks authority to execute such a strategy, he needs to explain to the Congress how additional authority for the use of force will protect America. If the President is prepared to engage Congress with a strategic plan to protect the U.S. and our allies from ISIL, I believe he will have significant congressional support. But don’t forget, the threat from ISIL is real and it’s growing—and it is time for President Obama to exercise some leadership in launching a response.”

After the news conference, the White House press machine went into overdrive trying to clarify the president’s remarks. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said both on Twitter and on CNN that the president has a comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS in Iraq but said his not having a strategy remark was specifically related to military options to take on the group in Syria.

Asked if Obama would seek congressional authorization before launching attacks in Syria, Earnest said “it depends on what our goal is” and would only commit to congressional consultation.

During the news conference, Obama also rejected the notion he was undermining his earlier opposition to accumulating power in the executive branch with his unilateral actions.

On Ukraine, Obama was subdued. He said Russia would face increasing costs for the latest “incursion” into Ukraine but announced no new actions beyond talking to European leaders next week. He said a military confrontation with Russia was not in the cards and noted that Ukraine was not a NATO ally. He repeated, however, that the United States took seriously its NATO obligations to defend other countries in the region.

He said that he believes that Russia is being weakened by its actions, but brushed off questions about sending Ukraine arms.

  • WeenieHolder

    For once, the president is telling the truth. There’s no strategy to STOP ISIS. The White House plan is to SUPPORT Islamist extremist, both domestically and abroad:

    1. Radical Muslim Brotherhood operatives work in Obama’s White House, and directly influence foreign and domestic policy, and have access to vital national security intelligence. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

    Arif Alikhan – Assistant Secretary for Policy Development for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    Mohammed Elibiary – Homeland Security Adviser.

    Rashad Hussain – Special Envoy to the (OIC) Organization of the Islamic Conference.

    Salam al-Marayati – Obama Adviser, founder of Muslim Public Affairs Council and its current executive director.

    Imam Mohamed Magid – Obama’s Sharia Czar, Islamic Society of North America.

    Eboo Patel – Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.

    2. Obama’s closest advisor and friend, Valerie Jarrett, has long-standing ties to Islamic radicals, the Muslim Brotherhood, shady Iranian power-brokers, and sworn enemies to the nation of Israel and America.

    Jarrett was named “Iranian of the Day” by the pro-Iran website Iranian(dot)com,

    and she was the key player in backdoor US diplomatic relations with Iran, which failed to end their program to enrich bomb-grade plutonium.

    3. When Hillary Clinton was Sec. of State, the Obama Administration reportedly leaked important national security information through Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, longtime aide, and “special friend.” Abedin is the wife of disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, and she has deep personal and family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Hillary Clinton’s failure to understand the danger of radical Islam led to the killing of four Americans at the consulate in Benghazi.

    4. Radical Islamists operate 35 training facilities INSIDE the United States with impunity. Democrats and left-wing special interest groups like the ACLU have defended these training camps for terrorists, arguing they have a constitutional right to exist. Afraid to offend the sensitivities of the Muslim community, the Department of Justice and Homeland Security has failed to take action against these known camps, at the expense of the nation’s security.

    5. Islamic terrorists are moving across the southern border with Mexico completely unhindered. The White House is aware of this, and is taking NO action to prevent it. What looks like incompetence or indifference to many is, in reality, willful collaboration.

    6. The Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a front group for radical Islamists and serves as the main PR mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood in the US. While mountains of evidence tying CAIR to dangerous extremists intent on harming the US, the Obama administration and mainstream media continue to let this dangerous group disseminate their anti-Semetic, anti-American hatred with impunity.

    7. Through the dramatic rise in college enrollment by Muslims at American universities and increased (often coerced) hiring of Muslim professors, the Muslim Brotherhood has established a strong presence on college campuses. They establish pro-Islamic/anti-US/anti-Israel student front groups, influence curriculum sympathetic to radical Islam and sharia law, organize and bankroll protests and demonstrations, influence university and public policy, indoctrinate, and recruit new members. The Muslim Brotherhood has also gained influence in public middle schools and high schools, as well as charter schools. A common tactic used to “take over” a school includes targeting specific faculty members for dismissal by spreading inflammatory false information to turn public opinion against them, then replacing those members with new ones sympathetic to sharia law and Islamic superiority.

    Do your own research. To learn more about the Islamic extremists’ influence on Washington, I suggest reading “Impeachable Offenses: The Case to Remove Barack Obama from Office” by New York Times bestselling authors Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott, “The Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama Administration” by Frank Gaffney, or “The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America” by Andrew C. McCarthy.

    “I will stand with Islam when the political winds shift in an ugly direction”
    -Barack Hussein Obama

  • papal

    What Obama meant is that they do not have a plan that Valerie will allow him to proceed with on ISIS. The generals will not come up with a plan that Valerie will approve of regarding ISIS. That is also why Obama golfs so much. He gets away from Valerie’s and Michelle’s henpecking on the golf course.

  • Chas Holman

    Man I am glad we have an honest and calculating President, rather than that last President whom when asked about the threat of terrorism after 9-11 he looked in the National Cameras eye and said ‘bring it’ like some dang drunken Cowboy. Man I am glad that guy and his war hungry band of lying thieves is gone.

  • Layla

    No military or world leader would ever admit publicly that he doesn’t have a strategy. But then, they wouldn’t leave their borders wide open and undefended, either.

  • Nicholas DeLuca

    Fantasy, pure fantasy !!

  • WeenieHolder

    In 2011, Farhana Khera, executive director of an Islamic organization called Muslim Advocates, wrote a letter to Barack Obama’s then-Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (and later CIA director) John Brennan. It demanded that Obama officials “purge all federal government training materials of biased materials”- materials that they claimed were biased against Islam – and “implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training.”

    The Obama Administration immediately complied. Dwight C. Holton, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, emphasized that same day that training materials for the FBI would be purged of everything that Islamic supremacists deemed offensive: “I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated.”

  • Nicholas DeLuca

    Like I replied, fantastical conspiracy theory without merit . Good grief !

  • WeenieHolder

    Wow, you’re dumb.

  • Bill Cortell

    Here we find Bolshevik ideologue Van Jones desperately defending the myriad health care lies told by Obama:

  • vardarac

    This all sounds very interesting, but it would be helpful to cite reputable sources for all of it. Preferably multiple sources for key points.

  • WeenieHolder

    Helpful to who – those too lazy to do their own research? Take another look at the last paragraph.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...