President Obama faced some tough questions at the G-20 summit from Antalya, Turkey, Monday as he addressed the tragedy in Paris and how the United States plans to respond.
Have you "underestimated" ISIS' ability? one reporter demanded.
“No, we haven’t,” Obama said. “There has been acute awareness from my administration from the start” regarding the threat, he insisted.
Many would disagree. Mere hours before terrorists murdered 129 people in Paris, Obama said ISIS had been “contained.”
Today in Turkey, the commander-in-chief took a somewhat different tone, suggesting we still have a lot of work to do.
We must “destroy this barbaric organization,” he said, by using military, intelligence, economic forces and the strength of our communities.
“We have always understood this will be a long term campaign.”
The Paris attack is a “terrible and sickening setback,” Obama said. Yet, he insisted that the U.S. is moving forward in the fight.
“As we grieve with Paris, we can’t lose sight there has been progress being made.”
Obama pointed out the efforts the U.S. military has thus far made in the war on terror: intensified airstrikes, killing ISIL leaders and other murderers. In addition, he said, we are cutting off supply lines to ISIL supply holds and that ISIL controls less territory than it has before.
“ISIL leaders will have no safe haven anywhere,” he said.
Of particular concern, however, is the White House’s plan to accept over 100,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years.
He continued to defend this policy. In terms of refugees, he explained, countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan “cannot be expected to bear the burden alone.”
“As president, my first priority is the safety of the American people.” Therefore, we will accept the refugees after “rigorous screening and security checks,” he said.
“Many of theses refugees are the victims of terrorism,” he said. “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”
Welcoming these refugees and protecting our national security, he suggested, are necessary.
“We can and must do both.”