US President Barack Obama said in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep that he regrets “not watching enough cable news,” because he felt it would have helped him understand how anxious people were about Daesh, and he would have then given the public more details on work his administration is doing to address the issue.
The president urged American citizens not to perceive the Daesh extremist group as a threat, reassuring them that the current US anti-terrorist strategy is working. His explanation gave the impression he felt that if only he took the trouble to explain to people what was going on, public sentiment would be different.
“Now on our side, I think that there is a legitimate criticism of what I’ve been doing and our administration has been doing in the sense that we haven’t…on a regular basis…described all the work that we’ve been doing for more than a year now to defeat ISIL [Daesh]” Obama said.
About a year ago the president addressed the US public, outlining his administration’s policy toward Daesh, and saying that there would be no ground troops deployed and that airstrikes, financial sanctions, and the arming of allies in the region would be sufficient to defeat the group. One year later, Daesh is still in existence and in spite of relentless bombardment, by Russia and other countries, the violent religious group does not appear to be dissolving. In addition, the US military’s $500m effort to equip allies in the region has resulted in only a handful of fighters, while 50 special operations troops are being sent to Syria and 100 more commandos are being deployed into neighboring Iraq.
So is it a failure by the Obama Administration? The president of the United States believes it is not, and blames the media for being the bad guys in their pursuit of ratings.
This is not the first time that President Obama has insisted that everything is going great and it’s only that people simply don’t have all the facts.
“One thing that I do need to constantly remind myself and my team is it’s not enough just to build the better mousetrap. People don’t automatically come beating to your door,” Obama told Bob Schieffer after a 2014 midterm election that saw many high profile defeats for Democrats. “We’ve got to sell it,” he added, “we’ve got to reach out to the other side and where possible persuade. And I think there are times…where…we have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we are trying to do and why this is the right direction.”
In other words, the strategy is working, and the White House must shift the method it is using to get the message across.