President Barack Obama finally laid out his strategy for dealing with the growing threat posed by the Islamic State.
His address comes almost two weeks after he stated in August that the United States “did not have a strategy yet” for how to approach the militant group, which is increasingly expanding its self-declared caliphate, and massacring, looting and bombing Iraq and Syria.
While the complete transcript is available almost everywhere on the internet, following are five key points from the rare primetime speech you need to know.
#1: Why an action is necessary
The president made sure his people – who have obviously grown tired of their country getting its hands dirty in foreign wars – understood why a strategy was necessary against a group carrying out atrocities thousands of miles away.
“They kill children. They enslave, rape and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists - Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.”
“So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East - including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region - including to the United States.”
#2: No terrorist plotting against the U.S. – yet
Obama reassured that there is no direct threat of attacks from the ISIS to the U.S. – for now. However, recruitment of American citizens by the terrorist group is a major problem.
“While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.”
“Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners - including Europeans and some Americans - have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.”
#3: There will be no boots on the ground
Obama twice emphasized that no American combat troops will be sent to Iraq. He described the fight against ISIS as a "counter-terrorism campaign" and not a war.
“It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.”
#4: This is not Iraq 2003 or Afghanistan 2001
Further clarifying that the United States would not get caught up in another futile conflict, Obama said:
“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ... This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years."
#5: Obama can do it all on his own
While mentioning that he possesses the power to act on his own, Obama said that it’d be better if he had Congressional support.
“I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together.”
“So I welcome Congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”
You can watch the complete speech in the video below: