ISIS Strategy a Moving Target for Obama Administration

PHOTO: A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.Reuters
A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.

Since President Obama departed for Europe this week he and other administration officials have sent mixed messages about what exactly the mission is with regard to the Islamist extremist group ISIS.

The president, who spoke about the adminstration's ISIS objectives again today at the NATO conference in Wales, has laid out several different goals, ranging from completely destroying ISIS to shrinking its sphere of influence.

Below is a list of the various objectives against ISIS, which is also known as ISIL, that Obama and his team have laid out in the past week:

“Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL” – President Obama, NATO press conference, Sept. 3

“Our objective is to make sure that ISIL is not an ongoing threat to the region” – Obama, NATO press conference, Sept. 3

“We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL's sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem” – Obama, NATO press conference, Sept. 3

“We will follow them to the gates of Hell” – Vice President Joe Biden, speech, Sept. 3

“Our goal is to destroy [ISIS’] capacity to conflict harm on our people and western values” – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, CNN interview, Sept. 3

“Certainly our objective here is to degrade and destroy ISIS” – State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, daily briefing, Sept. 3

“We have taken the fight to this kind of savagery and evil before. And believe me, we will take it again. We’re doing it today” - Secretary of State John Kerry, remarks, Sept. 3

“I think the president has been very clear that the objective is to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL” – Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, ABC interview, Sept. 4

“What we can accomplish is to dismantle this network, this force that has claimed to control this much territory, so that they can’t do us harm, and that’s going to be our objective” – Obama, NATO press conference, Sept. 5

“We are going to achieve our goal. We are going to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL” – Obama, NATO press conference, Sept. 5

“… to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy the threat posed by ISIL,” – Kerry/Hagel joint statement, Sept. 5