Obama Defends ISIS Strategy: "Anything We Could Be Doing, We Are Doing"


President Obama appeared on the Today Show Monday morning to discuss ISIS and other issues.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC: Can you tell us the status of the female American prisoner being held by ISIS. What is being done to help her?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What we can say is that, as has been true of all the hostages, that we are deploying all the assets we can, working with our coalition allies, to see if we can identify their locations, we're keeping very close contact with the family, trying to keep them updated. Obviously this is something that is heartbreaking for families and our obligation is to do anything we can to try to make sure any American citizen is rescued from this situation.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: You said in you state of the union that American leadership is helping to stop ISIS in Syria and in Iraq, but your critics say that is delusional, in fact they have gained more territory since the airstrikes have begun.

BARACK OBAMA: That is not accurate, and we just saw what happened in Kobani over the past several days, where the support we provided Kurds, air support, strikes that have been taken as both Iraqi security forces, and Kurdish forces begin to push back against ISIL, and what I have said though is it is going to take some time because part of our goal has to be to build up capacity inside Iraq, so that it is not American troops on the ground, some of those critics that you suggest, I imagine, would have us redeploy hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Isn't it kind of a strawman, you often say that?

BARACK OBAMA: It is not a strawman, let me explain what I'm saying, it is entirely possible for us to deploy 200,000 or 300,00 U.S. troops, and we would much more rapidly drive back ISIL, but what would then happen, is we would eventually leave. And what we've seen historically is if we don't have inside Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan, both the capacity and the will for people to fight for themselves, then any gains which are made eventually dissipate, so this takes longer, but it is the right way to do things.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: But isn't that -- aren't there other things you could be doing right now short of a presence of ground troops inside Syria or Iraq, that would help this goal of what you say is to defeat ISIS, happen more quickly, couldn't we be doing more?

BARACK OBAMA: Anything we could be doing, Savannah, we are doing.

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