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David Gergen: ‘No Evidence’ That Obama’s Strategy Can Defeat Islamic State

• December 7, 2015 11:32 am

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On Monday, Harvard professor and former presidential adviser David Gergen joined the chorus criticizing President Obama’s Oval Office address.

Gergen, who advised Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, said there is "no evidence" that Obama’s restrained military response can defeat the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL).

"There was no new action here. This was a stay-the-course speech. He thinks the course is going to lead to victory. There is no evidence that that is the case," Gergen said on CNN.

Gergen said he worries that Obama will continue his policy toward the Islamic State and leave the problem for his successor to deal with.

"I worry essentially we're going it play this out and it will be up to the next president to come up with a victorious strategy to defeat ISIS," Gergen said.

Gergen gave the president credit for using more forceful rhetoric in the address. Obama called IS as a "death cult" and referred to the San Bernardino attack as terrorism, a term Obama has been reluctant to use after other Islamic terrorist attacks.

"I applaud him for the more forceful, passionate rhetoric that he brought to bear, especially with regard to the respect for American Muslims and for his commitment," Gergen said.

"But ramping up the rhetoric is not the same thing as ramping up action," Gergen said.

 

Transcript below:

WOLF BLITZER: He says take out terrorists. He means kill them. Did he live up to your expectations? Your hope, David?

DAVID GERGEN: Yes and no. I applaud him, Wolf, for continuing to keep guns part of the focus here in dealing with terrorism.

Easy access to guns is clearly playing into the hands of terrorists in this country and is causing a lot of fear and anxiety that Americans have. You know, we have about 4 percent of the world's population. We have 42 percent of the privately owned guns in the world. That's way out of whack. So keep that going.

Secondly, I applaud him for the more forceful, passionate rhetoric that he brought to bear, especially with regard to the respect for American Muslims and for his commitment. But ramping up the rhetoric is not the same thing as ramping up action.

There was no new action here. This was a stay-the-course speech. He thinks the course is going to lead to victory. There is no evidence that that is the case. Hillary Clinton said today after all this long time we're not winning the war against ISIS. That's his own former Secretary of State. We've seen all these explosions, what Michael Weiss was talking about a few moments ago. I see no reason to come out of this speech believing we're going to be more successful in the future than in the past because essentially we're going to keep doing the same things we've been doing in the past.

I worry essentially we're going it play this out and it will be up to the next president to come up with a victorious strategy to defeat ISIS. That's a lot of time to lose and lot of dangers posed by not doing ahead and trying to secure a victory on this watch.

Published under: Barack Obama, CNN, Terrorism