With the release of poll results this week showing that 64% of Americans oppose President Obama’s plan to welcome at least 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States despite the risk that ISIS would mix their fighters in with real refugees, President Obama said he would veto legislation prohibiting Syrian refugees from coming into the country.
President Obama made the veto threat as many in Congress, including a sizeable number of Democrats in the House, passed H.R. 4038: American SAFE Act of 2015 by a slim veto proof margin of 287 to 137 votes.
If it passes the Senate by a similar margin, H.R. 4038 would force the Obama administration to tighten requirements for refugees entering the U.S. from Syria.
Obama reacted angrily by saying the legislation would introduce “unnecessary and impractical requirements” that would “unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”
His attack on those who supported the bill comes just days after the Islamic State terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, and injured scores more at six locations simultaneously– making it the worst attack on France since World War II. The sophistication of the attack startled western leaders with the exception of President Obama who saw nothing ominous in the attacks.
This stands in sharp contrast to the reaction Americans were primed for – to hear the president express sincere anger and resolve to finally take ISIS seriously and do more to destroy the organization.
Only later did Obama make a perfunctory statement describing the Islamic State as “this barbaric terrorist organization” and acknowledge “the terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback.”
In a piece by Michael Barone published in the Washington Examiner, Barone writes that:
“…what really got him (Obama) angry, as the transcript and videotape make clear, were reporters’ repeated questions about the minimal success of his strategy against the Islamic State and Republicans’ proposals for more active engagement in Syria and Iraq”… “as well as critics of his decision to allow 10,000 Syrians into the United States.
The reporters did not seem this time to be absorbing his patient instruction.
The Islamic State “controls less territory than it did before,” he stated – but not much less, and is still holding Iraq’s second largest city and a huge swath of Iraqi and Syrian Desert. Our bombs did pulverize the British-born Islamic State beheader. “We’ve been coordinating internationally to reduce their financing capabilities.”
Obama admitted that the American military could dislodge ISIS but said we would need occupy and control the territory we capture. Instead, Obama doubled down on his so far failed strategy “to degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS with the word “ultimately” writ large – another example of the president’s nuanced wording that avoids specific goals, using specific U.S. capabilities by a specific deadline.