John Kerry's Call for Strategy on ISIS Excludes Ground Troops

PHOTO: This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 4, 2014, shows a senior member of ISIS next to a burning police vehicle in Iraqs Anbar Province.AP
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 4, 2014, shows a senior member of ISIS next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq's Anbar Province.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today issued a clarion call for an international strategy to confront ISIS, even as he drew a different kind of “red line,” saying the United States and other Western powers would not commit to ground troops.

“So we’re convinced that in the days ahead we have the ability to destroy ISIL,” Kerry said. “It may take a year, it may take two years, it may take three years. But we’re determined it has to happen.”

But his words and tone were quite different than those of his boss.

In Estonia Wednesday, President Obama said, “We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its military capability to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

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But Kerry, speaking today before a meeting with the British Foreign and Defense secretaries in Wales, said there is “no containment policy for ISIL."

"They’re an ambitious, avowed, genocidal, territorial-grabbing, caliphate-desiring quasi state with an irregular army," he said, "and leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us.”

He added, however, that the president has a strategy and is totally committed to defeating ISIS, without ground troops.

"Contrary to what you sort of heard in the politics of our country, the president is totally committed; there is a strategy that is clear, becoming more clear by the day,” he added. "And it really relies on a holistic approach to ISIL.

“That is to say that we need to do kinetic, we need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, that bolster the Iraqi security forces, others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own, obviously. I think that’s a red line for everybody here, no boots on the ground.”