Gates: Completely Destroying al Qaeda, ISIS ‘Unrealistic Goal’


Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Robert M. Gates, who served both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama as secretary of defense said since we have been fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban for over a decade, to think we will be able to completely destroy them, or their new offspring, ISIS, is an “unrealistic goal.” But instead, we should be doing more to”roll them back or push them out of Iraq,” with the goal being to “deny them the ability to hang on to territory.”

When asked if we are not wining against ISIS, Gates said, “I think that’s correct. I think that we have made some steps to contain it, but in the same time ISIS has sort of  reached the natural limits to where they would have the sympathetic people, the Sunni areas of Northern and Western Iraq in particular.  But I think that the air strikes have contributed to containing them, but we’re in a long way to roll them back or push them out of Iraq.”

Adding President Obama’s current strategy will not even roll them back, Gates said, “The president has set an ambitious, and I think under current circumstances, unrealistic goal when he talks about our intent being to destroy ISIS. With the means that he has approved so far, I think that’s an unattainable objective.”

He concluded, “I think we set unrealistic goals for ourselves when we say that we are going to destroy the Taliban and going to destroy al Qaeda. I mean we have been after al Qaeda with all the resources of the American military and intelligence community for 14 years now and have not destroyed it. I think a different kind of strategy is first off, how do we contain them, and how do we limit their ability to carry out the attacks and to occupy territory. It seems to me, particularity with respect to ISIS,  our objective is to deny them the ability to hang on to territory, because that gives them a base from which potentially to plot against us and against Western Europe.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.