In the wake of the Paris attacks, President Obama said Monday he will stick with the current U.S. strategy against ISIS.
Speaking at the G20 summit in Turkey, Obama reiterated that the goal is to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist group. “Even as we grieve with our French friends … we can’t lose sight that there has been progress being made,” he said.
Obama touted the United States’ airstrikes against ISIS, intelligence against the group and diplomatic talks with nations in the Middle East.
“There will be an intensification of the strategy that we’ve put forward, but the strategy that we’ve put forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work,” Obama said. “But as I’ve said from the start, it’s going to take time.”
Obama rejected putting a significant U.S. military force on the ground.
“It is not just my view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisors, that that would be a mistake,” he said. “What we’ve seen before [is] if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governance and who are pushing back against ideological extremes, that they [terrorist groups] resurface.”
Obama also argued that the United States should not back away from plans to accept Syrian refugees.
“As President, my first priority is the safety of the American people. Even as we take more refugees, we do so only after subjecting them to vigorous screening and security checks,” he said. “[But] we have to remember that many of these refugees are victims of terrorism themselves … slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”
While saying that it would be dangerous to classify ISIS as a Muslim problem, Obama called on the Muslim community to push back against the extremist group. “Muslims around the world… have to ask very serious questions about how did these extremist ideologies take root,” he said. “Even if it’s only affecting a very small fraction of the population, it is real, and it is dangerous.
“I also think the Muslim community has to think about how we make sure that children are not been infected with this twisted notion that somehow they can kill innocent people and that that is justified by religion,” he continued. “And in some degree that has to come from within the Muslim community itself. I think there have been times when there has not been enough pushback against extremism.”