Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken promised that President Obama’s strategy to destroy ISIS “is going to come together in the coming weeks.”
“As we speak, the president is deeply engaged with our partners in Wales at the NATO summit. In the days ahead, Secretary Kerry will be going out to the region. Secretary Hagel will be following suit. Lisa Monaco, our counterterrorism adviser, will also be heading out, all of this in an effort to put together a coalition of countries, each of whom have a lot at stake if ISIL is allowed to consolidate its place and to grow from where it ISIS,” Blinken told CNN last night.
He also maintained that Obama has been “entirely consistent” in messaging that has alternately advocated defeating ISIS and turning it into a “manageable problem.”
“What he said and what he said very clearly is this. This is going to be a long-term effort. In the near term, what we can begin to do is to disrupt ISIL. And, indeed, we have actually started to do that in Iraq with the strikes that we have taken,” Blinken said. “Second, we get to the point of disrupting them, really getting them off their toes, onto their heels. That’s the same thing as making the problem manageable. And then, over time with this coalition, we get them to the point of defeat.”
“But the president was clear and wanted to be clear with the American people and folks around the world that that’s something that’s going to take time. So, what he said was entirely consistent. There’s a continuum that goes from disrupting them to degrading them or managing them and ultimately to defeating them.”
Blinken acknowledged that ISIS can’t be destroyed by airstrikes alone, “which is exactly what the president is building and exactly why we’re being so deliberate about it.”
He said consultations with Congress should “intensify” when lawmakers return from summer recess next week.
“ISIS is focused on the region. It poses a clear and present danger to people in Iraq, to people in Syria, to people in the region, and indeed as we have seen tragically, to Americans in the region,” Blinken said. “It has aspirations to threaten the homeland. We don’t think it’s there yet, but, if it’s left unchecked, it could get there. And that’s what we’re determined to prevent.”
“…Weeks ago, the president gathered all of his national security advisers, homeland security advisers, in anticipation of the anniversary of 9/11, as we do every year, because that can be a time of heightened concern, to make sure that we were doing everything possible against all lines of effort to be vigilant and to prevent any threats. And I’m very confident we have done just that.”