WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Republicans pounced on President Barack Obama following his press conference Thursday where he stated that the administration does not yet have a strategy to combat the threat that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terror group poses.
“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama stated.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, slammed the president’s comments, comparing him to Barney Fife from “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“This is a pitiful foreign policy and Barney Fife is in charge,” Gohmert told Fox News.
Gohmert added: “I don’t know where he’s getting his information. Maybe it’s CIA Director (John) Brennan who said earlier this year that ‘No, these guys don’t want to caliphate.’ He must have his head buried in a hole somewhere on the first green.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called Obama’s comment “shocking.”
“I’m just not sure the severity of the problem has sunk in with the administration just yet,” the Michigan Republican told CNN. “It was an odd press conference at the very best.”
White House officials told CBS News that Obama’s remark referred to a specific military strategy for dealing with ISIS.
“I just want to be clear about what our strategy is. The president’s clear in that this strategy is one that’s not going to solve this problem overnight. But he’s also clear about the fact that our strategy can’t only be the American military,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told CNN. “We have a comprehensive strategy for dealing with ISIL. One component of our broader strategy is the use of military force.”
The president is still determining whether or not to conduct airstrikes in Syria to target ISIS. The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes in Iraq against the terror group.
“We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans so we’re developing them. At that point I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard,” Obama explained.
Just last week, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said that ISIS needs to be confronted in Syria.
“To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization, which resides in Syria? The answer is no,” Dempsey said last week during a press briefing at the Pentagon. “That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border.”
Obama also said Thursday that they are to have to “build a regional strategy” to degrade ISIS, something that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is also calling for.
“The President needs to develop a regional strategy, working with our allies, to defeat ISIL and to use the full extent of his authorities to attack this enemy force,” McConnell told CBS News in a statement. “The President needs to present this plan to the Congress, and the American people, and where the President believes he lacks authority to execute such a strategy, he needs to explain to the Congress how additional authority for the use of force will protect America.”
Secretary of State John Kerry will be traveling to the Mideast next week in an effort to coordinate a response against ISIS.