President Obama on Saturday restated his plan to destroy Islamic State but did not say the United States “is at war” with the Middle East terror group, creating more uncertainty what exactly is the U.S. mission.
“We’re moving ahead with our strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist organization,” Obama said in his weekly radio and online address.
The president’s language was almost identical to what he said Wednesday when he told the country in a prime-time TV address that the United States would launch direct air strikes in Iraq on the terror group and that he has OK’d such strikes in Syria, as part of a broader counter-terrorism effort with allies.
However, conflicting and at times seemingly evolving messages from top U.S. officials since the address has sparked concern about the president’s exact goals toward destroying the Islamic State, which has made a surprising and deadly rise to power in Syria and Iraq over the past several months.
The administration appears to be trying to find the exact message to appeal to Americans concerned about the U.S. getting involved in another Middle East conflict after the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Friday shows support for the air strikes but little backing for a years-long air campaign or sending soldiers into the region.