President Barack Obama made remarks and then held a press conference in Antalya, Turkey on Monday that seemed, at times, to be more defensive and combative against critics of his foreign policy than it was against the ISIS terrorists. He reiterated that he would not send significant ground troops to destroy the Islamic State, even after the ISIS terrorist outrage that slaughtered over a hundred people in Paris. While French President Francois Hollande pledged to fight “pitiless” war, President Obama pledged, in effect, to the extent that he proposes to fight at all, something more limited.
Under intense questioning, Obama was dismissive of the concepts of American leadership and of America “winning” against ISIS and of people for whom these things are important.
“We’ll do what’s required to keep the American people safe. And I think it’s entirely appropriate in a democracy to have a serious debate about these issues. If folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan. If they think that somehow their advisors are better than the Chairman of my Joint Chiefs of Staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate. But what I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning, or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people, and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and to protect our allies and people like France. I’m too busy for that.”
The president was just as dismissive of fears expressed by Americans, including a number of state governors, that Syrian refugees that he proposes to resettle in the United States might include ISIS infiltrators.
“And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part. And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
It should be noted that at least one of the ISIS terrorists who perpetrated the Paris outrage was admitted to Europe as a migrant from Syria, using a possibly forged passport. The president and his defenders pledge that Syrians to be resettled in the United States will be vetted before they are admitted. Noting the chaos that adheres in Syria, that claim has been met with disbelief.