The White House is pushing back after President Barack Obama’s stated his administration currently doesn’t have “a strategy” for dealing with the jihadist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and drew headlines across the country.
“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Obama said at a press briefing late Thursday afternoon. “We don’t have a strategy yet.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest subsequently insisted that Obama specifically articulated a “comprehensive strategy” for dealing with the Islamic State during the briefing.
“In his remarks today, POTUS was explicit — as he has been in the past — about the comprehensive strategy we’ll use to confront ISIL threat,” Earnest wrote on Twitter.
Earnest quickly scheduled an appearance on CNN where he argued Obama was simply referencing the U.S. options against the Islamic State in Syria — not in Iraq.
“The president asked a specific question about what approach he was going to pursue when it came to possible military action in Syria against ISIL. That was the specific question he was asked and the president was explicit that he is still waiting for plans that are being developed by the Pentagon for military options he has for going into Syria,” Earnest said.
Overall, Earnest said the word “strategy” at least 24 times during his CNN interview.
“I just want to be clear about what our strategy is. The president’s clear is that this strategy is one that’s not going to solve this problem overnight. But he’s also clear about the fact that our strategy can’t only be the American military,” he continued. “We have a comprehensive strategy for dealing with ISIL. One component of our broader strategy is the use of military force.”
Updated (6:39 p.m.): With Earnest’s remarks on CNN.
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