WASHINGTON — President Obama acknowledges in an interview to be broadcast Sunday night that the United States underestimated the rise of the Islamic State militant group while placing too much trust in the Iraqi military, allowing the region to become “ground zero for jihadists around the world.”
In some of his most candid public remarks on the subject, Mr. Obama says in the interview with the CBS News program “60 Minutes” that it was “absolutely true” that the United States had erred in its assessments of both the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — and the Iraqi military.
And while describing a range of measures to sharpen military pressure on the extremists, he said that, ultimately, a political outcome was necessary to ease frictions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims “in Iraq and Syria, in particular.”
An American F-22A Raptor taxied last week before a mission over Syria.U.S., Defending Kurds in Syria, Expands Airstrikes Against Islamic State MilitantsSEPT. 27, 2014
Turkish Kurds watched Kurdish forces battle with Islamic State militants across the border in Syria on Saturday. Turkey fears the fight against the Islamic State may embolden Kurdish separatists.Turkey Inching Toward Alliance With U.S. in Syria ConflictSEPT. 27, 2014
An Iraqi soldier trying on a new uniform at a store in Baghdad. Some experts have declared the Iraqi Army a defeated force.Iraq’s Military Seen as Unlikely to Turn the TideJUNE 22, 2014
Gen. Ray Odierno, now the Army chief of staff, at a memorial for veterans last year.U.S. Army Chief Says Ground Troops Will Be Needed Against ISISSEPT. 17, 2014
A political solution there might help ease the broader tensions between the populations that “are the biggest cause of conflict, not just in the Middle East, but in the world,” Mr. Obama said, according to excerpts from the president’s interview with Steve Kroft on the CBS News website.