After a summer in which Islamic State militants have rampaged through Iraq and Syria, declared an Islamic caliphate, recruited extremists from abroad and claimed credit for decapitating American journalist James Foley, President Obama vowed earlier this week that “justice will be done” to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL or simply the Islamic State—a group that Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey have called an “imminent threat” to the United States with an “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision.”
But the president has long resisted getting “dragged back into another ground war in Iraq,” as he recently reiterated, and in a White House press conference on Thursday, he made clear he has not yet made up his mind about how exactly to counter the terrorist group, aside from dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to talk with other countries in the region and tasking Hagel and Dempsey to “prepare a range of options.” Asked whether he would get approval from Congress before potentially going into Syria, Obama said it would depend what kind of intervention, if any, the United States pursues: “We don’t have a strategy yet,” he admitted.
While the president deliberates, we at Politico Magazine decided to ask for some suggestions, and so went to some of the country’s top defense thinkers—hailing from the military brass to the Pentagon to Congress. Here’s what they think Obama’s strategy should look like.
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