Following his general remarks to the media at the G-20 conference of world leaders being held in Turkey, President Barack Obama opened the floor to questions from reporters. At the November 16 presser, Obama appeared to grow irritated with repeated questions from media as to whether he should move more decisively to destroy the Islamic State. Obama said that he was aware that his current policy does not offer immediate solutions, or the satisfaction of a “neat headline.”
 
“What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or ‘America winning”’ that has “no relationship to what is actually going to work,” Obama said. He also rejected Americans’ growing concern over the acceptance of Syria refugees, stemming from a fear that terrorists may thus enter the country. 
As for his Republican critics, Obama said that they are offering few concrete alternatives, with the exceptions of sending in ground forces or establishing no-fly zones. These policies, said Obama, would open up a “whole set of questions that have to be answered.”
 
In his statement to the press, Obama referred to the attacks in Paris as a “setback.” On November 13, 129 people were killed, including an American student, while hundreds were wounded. Obama said, “The terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback. Even as we grieve with our French friends, we can't lose sight that there has been progress being made.” He continued, saying “On the military front, our coalition has been intensifying our air strikes: more than 8,000 to date. We are taking out ISIL leaders, commanders, their killers. We’ve seen when we have an effective partner on the ground, ISIL can and is pushed back.”
 
Sending thousands of American troops to the Mideast will not work, said Obama. “We would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before, which is if you do not have local populations that are committed” to helping combat extremism, Obama said. The terrorists would “resurface, unless we are prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries.”

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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