Obama Plans Prime Time Speech on Islamic State Threat

President Barack Obama is planning a prime time television speech Wednesday about his plan to combat the advance of Islamic State militants in the Mideast.

The White House said the president will discuss the threat posed by the insurgents and his plan for “degrading and ultimately destroying” the Islamic State.

Obama met Tuesday with Secretary of State John Kerry about his military options, including whether to expand U.S. airstrikes on the insurgents’ strongholds from Iraq to Syria.  The president has already ruled out the use of American ground troops.

Growing public support

Public opinion surveys have shown growing support in the United States for more air attacks on the Islamic State, especially since the wide broadcast of Islamic State videos showing the militants beheading two American journalists.

Despite the attacks, a segment of the public and some lawmakers are voicing concerns about expanded U.S. military involvement in the Mideast at the same time the U.S. is winding down its 13-year fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Obama says he has the authority to “go on the offensive” against the Islamic State.  But some U.S. lawmakers have called for extensive debate in Congress on U.S. policies in the region before any Syrian mission is undertaken.

Meeting with congressional leaders

Obama is to meet later in the day with the top four congressional leaders, Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Mitch McConnell from the Senate, along with the House Republican leader, Speaker John Boehner, and the top House Democrat, Nancy Pelosi.

Government officials are also briefing all 535 members of Congress in the next few days on the Islamic State threat and how the U.S. plans to respond.

The president pulled the last U.S. combat troops out of Iraq three years ago following a nine-year war.  But he has dispatched about 1,000 advisers to Baghdad and ordered extensive airstrikes against the insurgents in Iraq.


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