President Obama’s ISIS Strategy a Good One, Experts Say | NBC Bay Area
Reality Check

Reality Check

Vets the truthfulness of claims and measures the efficacy of public policy

President Obama’s ISIS Strategy a Good One, Experts Say



    A chorus of criticism was aimed at President Obama this week as he announced his plan to defeat ISIS by air force. Will his strategy be effective? Sam Brock investigates. (Published Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015)

    President Obama announced on Monday his plan to continue attacking ISIS through air assaults following the terrorist attacks in Paris last week.

    "It's best we don't shoot first and aim later,” the president said at a press conference from Turkey, where we was attending the G20 Summit. “It's important to get the strategy right."

    The announcement sparked a chorus of criticism from the Republican Party, and many of the president’s opponents argued that ground force is the only way to knock out the terrorist group and prevent future attacks.

    But former Department of Defense official Gloria Duffy told NBC Bay Area that the president’s current strategy, though cautious, is a good one.

    “I think the president is trying to take steps now that are most appropriate now and most effective now,” said Duffy, who currently serves as the CEO of the Commonwealth Club, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in San Francisco.

    Duffy points out that a prime comparison for the current situation is the War in Iraq, which involved swift boots-on-the-ground action by the U.S. government. That war overthrew Saddam Hussein, but it also created the political climate that helped give rise to ISIS.

    It’s better to be cautious and calculated, she said.

    “Right now I think it’s about trying to cut off the financial support that ISIS has,” she said.

    ISIS earns up to $50 million per month transporting and selling crude oil.

    According to the Department of Defense , the United States has already damaged or destroyed more than 16,000 ISIS targets, including buildings and oil infrastructure, at a total cost of $5 billion.

    Duffy argues boots on the ground would cost much more, both monetarily and in the number of lives lost.

    By not stepping in, the U.S. is making room for other countries to take the lead, Duffy added.

    “In a way, it’s allowing other countries to step up and become fuller partners in this battle,” she said.

    Duffy says that it will ultimately take a coalition approach to defeat ISIS, because the size of the group—estimates range from 60,000 to 250,000 total members—could thwart attacks by ground forces.

    “It’s not likely to be thoroughly successful,” she said. “You try those methods that are least costly to yourself first.”