At a press conference at the G20 summit in Turkey on Monday morning, President Barack Obama was clearly annoyed as he took questions from reporters about his failing strategy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.
The president made a brief statement which began with remarks about “rising inequality around the world,” cyber talks, and climate change. About a minute into his speech he addressed the terror attacks in Paris, essentially claiming that, despite occasional setbacks like Paris, his counterterrorism strategy has been successful and will not be changing.
Reporters, perhaps remembering that the president also said that his counterterrorism strategy in Yemen was a success, wanted to know if the president might have underestimated ISIS.
After Obama said that he had not underestimated their strength, CNN’s Jim Acosta reminded him that he had initially called them the “JV team” and said just a few days ago that they were “contained.”
“I think a lot of Americans have this frustration that they see that the United States has the greatest military in the world, it has the backing of nearly ever other country in the world when it comes to taking on ISIS….I guess the question is — if you’ll forgive the language — why can’t we take out these bastards?” said Acosta.
Obama scoffed impatiently, “Well, Jim, I just spent the last three questions answering that very question so I don’t know what more you want me to add.”
He then launched into another long-winded defense of his strategy without addressing the question about whether or not he underestimated the threat.
The next reporter’s question was devastating.
“Given the strategies that you’re pursuing — it’s been more than a year now — ISIS’s capabilities seem to be expanding. Were you aware that they had the capability of pulling off the type of attack that they did in Paris, Are you concerned and do you think they have the same capability to strike in the United States? And do you think that — given all that you’ve learned about ISIS over the past year or so, and given all the criticism of you underestimating them — do you think you really understand this enemy well enough to defeat them and protect the homeland?” he asked.
Obama didn’t hide his irritation. “Alright — so — this is another variation of the same question,” he sniffed. “Let me try it one last time.”
He proceeded to claim — against all the observable evidence — that they are fully aware of ISIL’s capabilities, “and that’s precisely why we have been mounting a very aggressive strategy to go after them.”
Fox News’ Bret Baier said in a news segment after the press conference that he had spoken with a Special Operations commander currently engaged in the region.
“There is this palpable frustration,” he told Bill Hemmer. “Unleash them. Make them go after this threat. The president talks about the costs and the treasure that we’ve spent — but arguably there is a sense that something else needs to be done.”