Samantha Power Predicts: U.S. Won't Conduct Airstrikes in Syria Alone
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power made the bold prediction today on "This Week" that if the United States should go forward with airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, it would not do so alone - even though no country has yet to publicly commit to joining the U.S. in such an effort.
"I will make you a prediction George, which is that we will not do the air strikes alone, if the president decides to do the air strikes," Power told ABC News "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.
"It will be up to each country to announce for itself whether it's prepared to participate, whether in a combat role or to provide military equipment," the U.N. ambassador said earlier in the interview.
President Obama will appear in front of the United Nations General Assembly this week as he attempts to strengthen his case for international action against ISIS. Power told Stephanopoulos she believes the U.S. has the legal basis it needs to go forward with action against ISIS without a U.N resolution - one that Russia could potentially veto.
"The Iraqis have appealed to the international community to come to their defense not only in Iraq, but also to go after safe havens in foreign countries. And what they mean by that of course is Syria," Power said. "So they have made an appeal to the international community for collective defense. And we think we have a legal basis we need."
During the interview on "This Week," Power insisted that the president and the nation's top military leaders were on the same page regarding the president's strategy to not use U.S. combat troops on the ground in the effort against ISIS - the extremist group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq and that is responsible for the recent beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.
"The president is relying on military advice from Chairman [Martin] Dempsey and from Secretary [Chuck] Hagel. They believe that the strategy the president has laid out can be successful in degrading and destroying ISIL," Power said.
"And there are troops on the ground, there are Iraqi troops, there are Kurdish troops, there are Syrian troops who have been fighting ISIL at great expense and great sacrifice; fighting on two fronts, fighting ISIL on the one hand and the regime on the other," she added.
But former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, also appearing on "This Week," said that a "very small" number of American troops would be needed on the ground to achieve the goals outlined by the president against ISIS.
"What I believe, and what I suspect most military people believe, is that given the mission the president has assigned, which is degrade and destroy, that to be able to do that, some small number of American advisers, trainers, Special Forces and forward spotters, forward air controllers, are going to have to be in harm's way. And I think that the number will be very small," Gates said.
During the interview, Gates argued that destroying ISIS - a goal made clear by President Obama in recent weeks - would not be an easy one to achieve.
"I think that destroying ISIS is a very ambitious mission," Gates said. "I think our goal, actually, ought to be… the objective of pushing ISIS back out of Iraq, getting them out of there, denying them a place where they can have a permanent foothold, if you will, where they might be able to carry out plotting against the United States."