Obama Goes To War

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from The New York Times,

President asks Congress to back his ‘broad coalition’ against brutal terror group.

President Obama on Wednesday called on Congress to arm members of the Syrian opposition as part of a broad strategy to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Addressing the nation from the State Room of the White House on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Obama called ISIS a “cancer,” but promised no U.S. ground troops would be involved in the fight against the terrorist group.

“Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,” Obama said, using an alternative acronym for the organization.

The U.S. will continue airstrikes and support forces on the ground to go after ISIS. Obama promised a coalition of international partners in the effort, which he described as a long-term operation.

Obama, who was swept into office in 2008 in part because of his forceful opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, took pains to draw a contrast with other recent military actions in the Islamic world.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

“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,” Obama said.

The president announced he would send an additional 475 U.S. service members to Iraq to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with “training, intelligence and equipment.”

Obama called ISIS fighters “unique in their brutality.”

And he said that though no specific plots against the U.S. homeland had been uncovered, there are concerns that Americans and Europeans who have been trained by the terror group in Syria and Iraq could return home to launch domestic attacks.

The response from House Speaker John Boehner was non-committal.

“While the president presented a compelling case for action, many questions remain about the way in which the president intends to act,” Boehner said in a statement.

Boehner said House Republicans would meet Thursday morning to discuss “next steps.”

Obama said he has the authority he needs to address the ISIS threat, even without explicit sign-off from Congress. But he added: “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.”

House Republicans on Wednesday delayed a planned vote on a government funding measure so that money for arming the Syrian rebels could be added to the bill.

Obama has been reluctant to recommit to a military in Iraq after the last American troops left that country in 2011.

But the specter of renewed violence in that country—including the savage recent beheadings of two American journalists—forced his hand and upped the pressure on the president to act. An NBC News poll released Tuesday that 61% of respondents support military action against ISIS.

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