The Slatest

Military Pushes Obama Toward Strikes in Syria as Some Question If ISIS Threat Is Overblown

President Barack Obama makes a statement at Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., on August 20.

Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama has resisted getting involved in the Syrian conflict for three years, but now military leaders are pushing him toward taking military action in the war-torn country, saying it is the only way to combat the ISIS Sunni extremist group. On Friday, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the administration was analyzing the possibility of taking the battle against ISIS beyond Iraq. Even though Obama has yet to make a decision, U.S. intelligence is already gathering information on where the ISIS leadership is located in Syria, sources tell CNN.

Once the decision is made any air strikes could take place quite quickly. A military official tells the Wall Street Journal that the time needed to mount air strikes against high value targets “could be an hour, it could be a week.” Even as Obama has vowed not to get U.S. combat troops, expanding air strikes to Syria “could mean a lengthy American military commitment in the region that could consume much of Obama’s remaining time in office,” notes the Associated Press.

Even as the military is using nearly apocalyptic terms to describe the threat from ISIS, which has rebranded itself as the Islamic State, the New York Times talks to some experts who say it has been vastly overstated, particularly in terms of the danger the group could pose to the United States. Unlike a traditional terrorist group, ISIS wants first and foremost to expand its territory rather than carry out acts of terror. Plus its brutal way of governing the land it seizes could very well end up working against it by creating “internal factions that would weaken its grip on power,” notes the Times.