(NY Post) AP – President Obama announced an escalation of the war against Islamic State terrorists Wednesday night with plans to intensify airstrikes in Iraq, send more U.S. military advisers to Baghdad, provide arms to Syrian rebels and likely begin airstrikes in Syria.

The president ordered another 475 military advisers to Iraq, on top of 300 advisers he sent there in June and 130 U.S. personnel he sent last month to aid in a humanitarian mission.

In addition to ramping up the bombing missions that will be flown by U.S. warplanes and drones against the Islamic State in Iraq, Mr. Obama said the air war likely will be expanded into Syria when U.S. reconnaissance missions identify more targets of the terrorist organization also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.

“If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States,” Mr. Obama said in a prime-time address from the White House. “We will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists.”

In an echo of President George W. Bush’s anti-terror doctrine, the President specified that terrorists will not be safe in any country.

“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Mr. Obama said. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

While the president outlined a multipronged military and diplomatic strategy for going on the offensive against the surging Sunni militants [ISIS], he took pains to contrast the expanded campaign with Mr. Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For example, he referred to this campaign, which has surpassed more than 150 airstrikes in Iraq, as a counterterrorism operation instead of a war — a word he used in only two references to what his plan is not.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama said. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism 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.”

The strategy, unveiled just two weeks after Mr. Obama said he had no plan for defeating the militants in Syria, will rely on the U.S. and its allies arming moderate Syrian rebels who are battling both the Islamic State [ISIS] and the regime of President Bashar Assad in a 3-year-old civil war.


From Business Insider September 9, 2014 (Image: Mike Nudelman)

While some in Congress have been urging Mr. Obama for years to arm the Syrian rebels, other lawmakers reacted warily to the plan. “We have to make sure that we’re not putting weapons into the hands of al Qaeda or other jihadis,” Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, said on CNN.

In Iraq, the president said the formation of a new government under Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi will be the key to rehabilitating the dubious Iraqi army and taking the fight to the militants. The president also ordered $25 million under the Foreign Assistance Act to be spent on equipment and training for the Iraqi army, including Kurdish forces.

“With a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Mr. Obama said. “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, [the Islamic State] through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mr. Obama’s announcement of the military escalation was a dramatic turnaround by a president who dismissed the Islamic State nine months ago as a “JV” terrorist group. Last year, the president told Americans that the large-scale war against Islamist extremism was all but over.

The gains by the terrorist group have brought Mr. Obama to a decision to carry out a military campaign in Syria only one year after he announced – and then withdrew – plans to launch missile attacks against the Assad regime for using chemical weapons in the civil war.

Although Mr. Obama didn’t announce a specific air campaign in Syria, aides said U.S. airstrikes against militants there are only a matter of time. …

Mr. Obama has said he has the authority to proceed with much of his plan without formal approval from Congress. But he is seeking lawmakers’ authorization for $500 million to train and equip Syrian rebels…

House Speaker John A. Boehner said after the speech that Mr. Obama made a welcome turn but…questions remain about the president’s plan because training Iraqi forces “could take years to fully implement at a time when ISIL’s momentum and territorial gains need to be immediately halted and reversed.” He said, “It is also a cause for concern that the president appears to view the effort against ISIL as an isolated counterterrorism campaign, rather than as what it must be: an all-out effort to destroy an enemy that has declared a holy war against America.” …..

The president and his top advisers also were working to firm up a coalition including Arab states to fight the militants. Mr. Obama spoke by phone with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, ahead of a gathering of Arab leaders on their contributions to a global coalition against the Islamic State.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry is heading to Saudi Arabia and Jordan this week, after stopping in Baghdad on Wednesday to meet with Iraq’s new leaders and pledging U.S. support for eliminating the extremist group and the threat it poses. …..

France’s foreign minister said his country was ready to take part in airstrikes against extremist fighters in Iraq if needed. The German government announced that it was sending assault rifles, ammunition, antitank weapons and armored vehicles to Kurdish forces in Iraq, breaking with the NATO member’s decades-long reluctance to send weapons into conflict areas. …

⦁ S.A. Miller contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports from the Associated Press.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only.  May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The New York Post.


1. During his speech to the American people Wednesday night, what did President Obama say is America’s objective in dealing with ISIS?

2. a) Define counterterrorism.
b) What steps will President Obama take in his counterterrorism strategy against ISIS? (Be specific)

3.  What does President Obama say is a core principle of his presidency on dealing with terrorists?

4. What did the President say was the difference between his strategy for dealing with terrorists compared to that of President George W. Bush?

5. How has President Obama’s viewpoint on ISIS changed from previous statements he has made about the terrorist group?

6. Read and/or watch the President’s speech (links to text and video can be found below the questions–under “Background”.)
a) What is your reaction to the President’s speech? (is he implementing a good strategy? will it succeed in destroying ISIS? is it too much, not enough, just right?) Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.

7.  Under “Resources” below:  Watch Washington Post/Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer’s thoughts on the strategy to deal with ISIS that President Obama laid out in his speech.
a) Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Krauthammer’s assertion on the President’s strategy? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.


Read President Obama’s Sept. 10 speech on ISIS in its entirety:

Watch the speech at:


What Is Counterterrorism?
The most common definition of counterterrorism (also spelled counter-terrorism) on the Internet is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt in response to terrorist threats and/or acts.

What Are the Objectives of Counterterrorism?
Each US Government agency involved in counterterrorism has an objective in the war on terror. The FBI mission is to neutralize terrorist cells and operatives here in the U.S. and to help dismantle terrorist networks worldwide. In the US, numerous agencies including the FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security and the State Department have authority to combat terrorism. The National Counterterrorism Center objective is to integrate and orchestrate the formidable capabilities of the US Government dedicated to defeating the scourge of international terrorism and reducing the threat to US interests at home and abroad.

How Does Counterterrorism Work?
There are two aspects of counterterrorism. The first is to make citizens safer from terrorist threats through screening of airline passengers, placing video cameras and metal detectors in public places, random patrols of bomb-sniffing dogs, etc. The second is neutralization of terrorists through arrests, prosecutions, assassinations, raids on terrorist facilities, military action, etc. Full counterterrorism encompasses threat reduction by making the US a “harder target” and actively “going after” terrorists.

Who Makes Decisions on Counterterrorism Policy in the US?
Effective counterterrorism is a challenge because of all the agencies involved. The White House, State Department, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Agency, Department of Justice and state/local authorities may all be involved in a counterterrorism program. (from

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