President Obama: We Will “Degrade and Destroy” the Islamic State

Following confirmation today of the authenticity of a video that surfaced yesterday showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff, a number of U.S. officials took the opportunity to sound off.

Primary amongst these figures was, of course, President Obama, who spoke about the video and the threat of the Islamic State at a news conference earlier today.

“The bottom line is this, our objective is clear and that is to degrade and destroy (Islamic State) so that it’s no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States,”

he told reporters at the conference, adding that,

“Whatever these murderers think they will achieve with killing innocent Americans like Steven [Sotloff], they have already failed. They failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated… 

Those that make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”


President Obama spoke from Tallinn, Estonia, where he is meeting with NATO’s Baltic allies to reassure them that NATO would back them up against any Russian aggression stemming from the conflict in Ukraine (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP)

Vice President Joe Biden also had a fiery response to the most recent beheading. Speaking at an appearance in New Hampshire, he said,

“They [the Islamic State] should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they will reside, hell is where they will reside.”


Speaking in Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry described Sotloff’s beheading as,

“…an act of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask,”


We have taken the fight to this kind of savagery and evil before and, believe me, we will take it again. When terrorists anywhere around the world have murdered our citizens, the United States held them accountable no matter how long it took.”

The president is sending Kerry, along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, to the Middle East to consult with the United States’ regional allies about the best strategy for dismantling the Islamic State.

Johny Kerry and Chuck Hagel in Tokyo last October (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The president stressed, however, that the destruction of the Islamic State was not going to be something that happened overnight:

“This is not going to be a one-week or one-month or six-month proposition because of what’s happened in the vacuum of Syria. It’s going to take time for us to be able to roll them back.”


Last month, the United States military resumed air strikes in Iraq (against Islamic State targets) for the first time since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in December 2011.

Read the original story from Reuters here.

Feature image courtesy of Reuters.


This site is using the Seo Wizard plugin developed by