President Barack Obama on Wednesday predicted that the Islamic State will lose its battle with the United States and its allies, and called on Congress to help him finish the job by passing a resolution authorizing further military force against the terrorist group.
"Make no mistake, this is a difficult mission, and it will remain difficult for some time," he said in the White House. "But our coalition is on the offensive. ISIL is on the defensive and ISIL is going to lose."
"Its barbaric murders of so many people, including American hostages, are a desperate and revolting attempt to strike fear in the hearts of people it can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology, because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction," Obama added.
Obama stood with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and said U.S. airstrikes have so far have destroyed barracks, training camps and oil and gas facilities controlled by the Islamic State. Obama added that these strikes have also wiped out Islamic State fighters and leaders.
Obama used his remarks to ask Congress to support his proposed authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, against the Islamic State. The White House sent its proposal to Congress Wednesday morning, and it limits military action to a three-year period, and explicitly does not authorize "enduring offensive ground combat operations."
Obama said in the White House that the language was designed to avoid a lengthy new ground war.
"The resolution we submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria," he said. "It is not the authorization of another ground war like Afghanistan or Iraq."
But he said it could allow some ground actions for short periods of time, depending on what's needed over the next three years.
"For example, if we had actionable intelligence about a gathering of ISIL leaders, and our partners didn't have the capacity to get them, I would be prepared to order our special forces to take action because I will not allow these terrorists to have a safe haven," Obama said.
Some Republicans have already indicated that they may want tougher language, while many Democrats are worried about authorizing what could turn into a protracted ground war. But Obama said it's designed as a compromise between the two parties.
"In crafting this resolution, we have consulted with and listen to both Republicans and Democrats in Congress," he said. "We've made a sincere effort to address difficult issues that we discussed together, and in the days and weeks ahead we'll continue to work closely with leaders and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle."
Obama has been criticized by Republicans for pulling out of Iraq too soon, but he stressed that the three-year authorization should not be seen as a drop dead date after which all U.S. military involvement will end.
"It is not a timetable, it is not announcing that the mission is completed at any given period," he said. "What it is saying is that Congress should revisit the issue at the beginning of the next president's term."