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State of the Union: Will Obama Finally Give Americans a Policy to Combat ISIS?
NRCC | January 12, 2016

As President Obama prepares to deliver his final State of the Union address tonight, the NRCC calls on him to finally detail a plan to defeat ISIS and combat Islamic terrorism around the world.

  • Obama has lost the confidence of the American people due to his indecision and lack of direction in the fight against ISIS and the war on terrorism.
    • 64% of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of ISIS and 60% disapprove of his handling of terrorism.
    • Only 25% are satisfied with the way things are going in the war on terrorism.
    • Just 18% think the US and its allies are winning the war on terrorism, while 40% think the terrorists are winning.
  • Obama has admitted that his administration lacks a complete strategy on ISIS.
    • His failure to implement a successful ISIS policy has been lambasted by lawmakers and foreign policy experts, as well as former administration officials.
  • ISIS continues to control large portions of Syria and Iraq and has made inroads in other countries, including Afghanistan.

NRCC COMMENT: “The American people have lost all faith in President Obama’s ability to combat ISIS and Islamic terrorism. It’s time for President Obama to finally tell the nation how he plans to deal with these threats and keep the United States safe from Islamic extremists.” – Bob Salera, NRCC Spokesman

Background:

CNN/ORC Poll, 12/28/15

Obama’s Problem with ISIS Isn’t an Incomplete Strategy – It’s a Failing One. “President Obama is under fire for explaining the lack of progress in the fight against the Islamic State on the fact that he does not “yet have a complete strategy.” This apparently candid concession echoes the one he made 10 months ago when he acknowledged that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to confront the Islamic State. Critics are understandably lambasting the president for the apparent dilatoriness, and I have some sympathy for the critique… Yet, in this instance, I think the critics and the president are both wrong. The problem is not an absence of strategy, it is that the strategy that does exist is failing and the administration is not yet willing to admit that fact.” (Peter Feaver, “Obama’s Problem with ISIS Isn’t an Incomplete Strategy – It’s a Failing One,” Foreign Policy, 1/9/15)

McCain: Obama’s failed leadership led to rise of ISIS. “Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says President Obama’s “failed policies” and lack of leadership have led to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ‘It’s because of the president of the United States’ failed policies, ‘leading from behind,’ which has led to this chaos and renewed influence and growth of ISIS,’ McCain told John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on New York’s AM-970 on Sunday.” (Bradford Richardson, “McCain: Obama’s failed leadership led to rise of ISIS,” The Hill, 11/15/15)

Former senior administration official: Obama’s ISIS policy is backwards. “’This brings you full-circle to the whole question of: What is your strategy? If your objective is to degrade and ultimately destroy [ISIS], then you need to have a strategy that doesn’t produce the opposite effect,’ Fred Hof, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former special adviser for transition in Syria under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told Business Insider. ‘It is the lack of civilian protection that is just fattening the political wallet of ISIL.’” (Pamela Engel, “Former senior administration official: Obama’s ISIS policy is backwards,” Business Insider, 6/29/15)

ISIS’ territory in Syria and Iraq is shrinking – but there’s a catch. “ISIS has lost ground since its mid-2014 height. But the US-led coalition’s numbers elide a more complex reality on the ground. ISIS lost only 14% of its territory in 2015 according to the New York Times. And those territorial losses occurred amid expansion into strategically vital territory in Syria.” (Armin Rosen and Reuters, “ISIS’ territory in Syria and Iraq is shrinking – but there’s a catch,” Business Insider, 1/5/16)

Afghan casualties surged in 2015 because of increased Taliban attacks. “The security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated last year as U.S. forces stepped back from conducting combat operation and reduced their troop levels to 9,800. At the same time, Afghan forces faced a resurgent Taliban as well as al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants.” (Tom Vanden Brook, “Afghanistan casualties surged in 2015 because of increased Taliban attacks,” USA Today, 1/4/16)

MAPPED: Shocking rise of Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan as British and US legacy crumbles. “A shocking map has revealed the huge swathes of Afghanistan now controlled by the Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS) as terrorists battle to regain control of the country hundreds of British troops gave their lives to defend… The disturbing map shows how the Taliban has already rebuilt much of the empire it lost when Britain and America invaded in 2001, whilst ISIS jihadis from neighbouring Pakistan have overrun eastern provinces at an alarming rate.” (Nick Gutteridge, “MAPPED: Shocking rise of Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan as British and US legacy crumbles,” Express, 1/5/16)

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