Aug 28, 2014|
The president takes questions on Iraq and Ukraine.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
This is the CBS news special report statement from President Obama I'm Dan -- we'll hear the president shortly in the White House briefing room he may well take questions after his remarks a CBS news White House correspondent Peter -- what are is likely topics -- Dan it's our understanding that this appearance will be an update on pressing foreign policy challenges. And not a major announcement of any imminent military action following of course. Broad hints of possible US air strikes on terror targets in Syria. I think we can expect the president to discuss Syria and the threat from the Islamic state terror group and the latest on Russian military action in Ukraine. Two key issues as he meets this afternoon at the White House. With his national security team the military and foreign policy advisors closest to the president. Strong words from the US at the UN today on Ukraine ambassador Samantha Power told the Security Council that Russia has manipulated. And outright lied about its moves in Ukraine and as the Russian ambassador rove replied it's true there are Russian volunteers helping separatists and eastern Ukraine but he said stop interfering here's President Obama at the white. Right. -- -- few words on a number of topics and take your questions before long Labor Day weekend. First. Beginning of the number one thing to most Americans care about the economy. This morning we found out that are coming actually grew at a stronger clip in the second quarter than we originally thought. Companies are investing. Consumers are spending. Over the past four and a half years our businesses have not created nearly ten million new jobs so there -- reasons to feel good about the direction we're headed. But observers note there's a lot more that we should be doing to make sure that all Americans benefit from the progress that we made and I'm gonna be pushing congress hard. On this one it was -- next week. Second. In Iraq are dedicated pilots and crews continue to carry out targeted strikes that I authorized. To protect. Americans there and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground. As commander in chief. I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland. Because of our strikes the terrorists of my -- or losing arms and equipment. In some areas Iraqi Government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back. And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary. Personnel serving in this mission. Now I -- poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and people throughout the region. And that's why our military action -- Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners. We're taking the fight to us. And that starts -- -- Iraq's leaders building on the progress they've made so far and forming an inclusive government the -- unite their country. And strengthen their security forces to confront us. Any successful strategy though also needs strong regional partners. I'm -- so far that countries in the region. Countries that don't don't always agree on many things increasingly recognize. The primacy of the threat that I -- to all of and I've asked secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that's needed to meet this threat. As I've said rooting out cancer like -- will not be quick. Were easy but I'm confident that we can and we will working closely -- our allies and our partners. Our product director -- hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I'll be meeting -- our National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop. That strategy and I've been consulting remembers congressmen will continue to do so in the days ahead. Finally I just spoke with chancellor Merkel of Germany on the situation and you -- We agree if there was ever any doubt that Russia is responsible. For the violence in eastern Ukraine. Violence is encouraged by Russia the separatists. Trained by Russia they are armed by Russia they are funded by Russia. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of -- And the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plane for the world to see. This comes as Ukrainian forces are making progress against the separatists. As a result. Of the actions Russia has already taken and the major sanctions we proposed -- our European and international partners. Russia is already more isolated than any time since the end of the Cold War. Capitals -- investors are increasingly staying out its economy is in decline. And this ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia. Next week I'll be in Europe to coordinate -- our closest allies and partners. In Estonia will reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the defense of our NATO allies. -- through NATO summit in the United Kingdom will focus on the additional steps we can take to ensure the alliance remains prepared for any challenge. A meeting of the NATO Ukraine commission will be another opportunity for alliance to continue our partnership with Ukraine. And I look forward to re affirming the unwavering commitment of the United States to Ukraine and its people when -- welcome president Portugal to the White House next month. So. I would -- on -- take your questions and I'm gonna start. With somebody who. My guess is now big cheese he's moved on. But. I understand is on this last chance to ask me a question impress them so a lot of graduate chucked out. And give my first that's. -- press. He's charged with Syria. The decision did you have to make. Between personal is today. Situation the she console prices went out. And then how you prioritize -- says. Aside. Lost legitimacy of the defeating nicest couldn't help aside and keep it out. Talk. How you prioritize. First of all wanna make sure very clear. On what we're doing now. Because it is limited. Our focus right now is to protect. American personnel on the ground in Iraq protect our embassy to protect us consulates. To make sure that critical infrastructure that could. Adversely affect our personnel. Is protected. Where we see. An opportunity to -- it allows us with the very modest risk should help the humanitarian situation there as we did. -- intermountain. We will take those opportunities. After having consulted with congress but our core priority right now is just to make sure that our folks are -- And to. Do an effective assessment of Iraqi and Kurdish -- builds. As I said I think your last press conference. In order for us to be successful we -- have an Iraqi Government. That is unified any -- so. We are continuing to push them to get that job done. As soon as we have an Iraqi Government in place. The likelihood of the Iraqi Security Forces being more effective in taking -- Beisel. Significantly. Increases. And the options and I'm asking for. From the joint chiefs. Focuses primarily. On making sure that Beisel is not overrunning Iraq. What is true though is that the violence that's been taking place in Syria. Has obviously given -- safe haven there. In I'm governed spaces. And in order for us to degrade -- all over the long. We're gonna have to build -- regional strategy now we're not gonna do that'll. We have to do that with. Other partners in particularly Sunni partners because part of the goal here is to make sure that Sony has -- Syria and in Iraq. Feel as if they've got an investment in a government that actually functions of government. Can protect them. A government that. Make sure that the families are safe from the barbaric acts that we've seen in Iceland right now. Those structures not place and that's why. The issue with respect to Syria. Is not civil and military issue it's also political issue it's also. An issue that involves. All the Sunni states in the region and Sunni leadership recognizing. That this cancer that has developed. Is one that they have to be just -- invested in defeating as we. And so. To cut to the chase in terms of what may -- your specific concerns chuck. My priority at this point. Is to make sure that. Big gains that I -- made in Iraq are. Pulled back and that Iraq has the opportunity to govern itself. Effectively and secure itself. But. When we look at -- broader strategy. That is consistent with what I said at West Point that's consistent -- the national defense college. Clearly. I sold has come to represent. The very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectible. And that's going to be a long term project. It's gonna require us to stabilize Syria in some fashion and stabilizes or some version means that we got to get. Moderate Sunnis. Who are able to govern and offer. A real alternative. And competition to what I -- been doing some of these faces now that last point would respect a son. It's not just my opinion I think it would be international opinion that. -- lost legitimacy in terms of dropping. Barrel bombs on innocent families and killing. Tens of thousands of people. And right now what we're seeing is various that I thought it was occupied. Are not controlled. By. Outside it anyway. And frankly. Outside. Doesn't seem to have the capability or reach to get into those. So. You know I don't think there's a situation where we get to choose. Between Assad. Or the kinds of people who carry on. Incredible violence that we've been seeing there we will continue to support a moderate opposition. Inside of Syria in part. Because. We have to give people inside Syria choice other than I -- or outside. And I don't see any scenario in which -- -- somehow was able to bring peace and stability. To a region that is majority Sunni. And. Has not so far. That's shown any willingness to share power -- them warn you. Kind of significant way deal -- the longstanding grievances were to happen. -- No I consult with congress throughout this process. I am confident that this commander in chief I have the forties to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops. We will continue to consult with congress and I do think that'll be important for congress to weigh in and or. There -- -- consultations with congress. Continue to develop so that. And the American people are part of the debate. But I don't wanna put the cart. Before the horse we don't have a strategy. Yet I think what I've seen in in some of the news reports. Suggests that folks are getting -- Further ahead. Of where we're -- and we currently are. And I think that's not just my assessment with the assessment of our military as well we need to make sure that we've got clear plans -- -- were developing them. At that point I would consult with congress. And make sure that their voices are heard. But there's no point in me asking for. Action on the part of congress before I know exactly what it is that. Is going to be required for us to get the job. -- -- -- And -- That's always been using an invasion and we need tax credit will cost -- much. I am ready at this point to hurt by economic sanctions or are you considering other. I consider the actions that we -- last week. A continuation. Of what's been taking place for months. As I said in my opening statement. There is no doubt that. This is not a homegrown indigenous. Uprising in eastern Ukraine. This separate us or. That trained armed financed. By Russian. Throughout this process we've seen. Deep Russian involvement in everything that they've done. I think in part because of the progress that you've seen by the ukrainians. And that's. And -- Russia determined that it had to be a little more overt in what we guarded them do. But it's not really -- What we have seen bill is. President Putin and Russia have repeatedly passed by. Potential offer -- To resolve this diplomatically. And so in our consultations where. The our European allies and partners. My expectation is that we will take additional steps. Primarily because we have not seen any meaningful action on the part. Russia to actually try to resolve this and diplomatic fashion. And I think we. The sanctions that we've already applied. Have been a factor. Our intelligence shows that the Russians know they've been affected even though it may not appear on Russian television. And I think there are ways for us to. Deepen and expand the scope of some of that work. But ultimately I think what's important to recognize is the degree to which. Russian decision making is isolating Russia. You know they're doing this to themselves. And what I've been encouraged as graduation. Our European partners recognized even though they are very cost. Implement the sanctions. Did they understand that a broader principles that -- And to so I look forward to that the constitution's water what I see the next week. -- -- Happy Saturday. Next work. You would your response to tough questions you know perhaps in our strategy yet. He'll reconsider that going -- but why did you go to congress before. -- -- -- -- Cannot believe that that's the case anymore what you set last year and threaten the very losses that. That that you raised concerns with the expansion powers meet with the executive -- concerned that your recent actions unilaterally. -- -- -- And here's why. It is not just. Part of my responsibility but it is a sacred duty for me as commander in chief to protect the American people. And that requires me to act fast. Based on information I receive. If an embassy of -- or console the Mars is being threatened. The decisions I made were based on. Very concrete assessments. About the possibility. That. Are. That Kerviel might be overrun. In the Kurdish region and that our consulate. Could be in danger. And I can't afford to wait. In order to make sure that those folks are protected. But throughout this process we've consulted. Closely with congress and the feedback I've gotten from congress is is that we're doing the right thing. Now. As we go forward as I described -- And look at a broader regional strategy. Within international coalition and partners. To. Systematically. Degrade. I -- us capacity to engage in the terrible violence. And disruptions they've been engaging and not just in Syria not just in Iraq -- potentially. Elsewhere if we don't that this is that the bug. Then. Those consultations with congress for something. That is longer term. I think become more relevant and you know it is my intention that congress has to have some -- as representatives of the American people and by the way the American people -- be here. What that strategy this but as -- said chuck I don't wanna. Put the cart before the horse and in some of the media reports the suggestion seems to have been that there were about to. Goal. Full scale. On an elaborate strategy. For defeating -- And to the suggestion I guess has been that will start. Moving forward. Imminently and somehow congress still out of town is going to be left in the dark that's not what's gonna happen. We are gonna continue to focus on protecting the American people. We're gonna continue to where we can say engage in the sort of humanitarian acts that saved. So many. Folks were trapped on mountain. We are gonna work politically and diplomatically. With folks in the region. And we're gonna cobbled together the kind of coalition we need for a long term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together these military. Political. Any economic components. Of that strategy there will be a military. Aspect of that. And it's going to be important for congress to know what that is in part because they may cost some money. Okay. -- About just a couple more. Reports indicated that. He's going to go down like a. Well. Once I sold got into Mosul that. -- a big problem because there's no doubt that they were able to capture some weapons and resources that they've been used to finance. Additional operations. And at that stage. We immediately contacted. The Iraqi Government keep in mind we've been communications with the Iraqi Government for more than a year indicated. That we saw significant problems in the Sunni areas prime minister Maliki. Was not as responsive perhaps as we would have liked to some of the underlying political grievances. That existed at the time. There is no doubt that in order for. Iraq. Iraq's security forces to be successful. They're gonna need help. There and need help from us they need help from. Our international partners. They're gonna need additional training they're going to be additional equipment. And we are going to be prepared to offer that support. There may be a role for an international coalition providing additional air support. For their operations. But the reason it's so important that an Iraqi Government be in place is this is not simply military problem. The problem we've had consistently. Is a Sunni population. That feels alienated from Baghdad and does not feel invested. In what's happening. And does not feel as if anybody is looking out for them if we can get a government. In place that provides -- some hope. That a national government serves their interest. If they can regain some confidence and trust that it won't follow through on commitments that were made way back in 2000. And six and 20072008. And and and earlier about how. You arrive at for example. You know. Deep dedication laws and and give people opportunities. So they're not walked out. Government positions. If those things are followed through on and we are able to combine it with. They sound military strategy that I think we can be successful if we can't. Then the idea that the United States or any outside power. Would perpetually. Defeat diocese. I think is unrealistic. As I've said before -- innocent in the previous press conference. Our military's the best in the world. We we can route -- on the ground. And keep a lid on things temporarily but then as soon as we leave. The same problems come back and so we've got it we've got to make sure that. Iraqis understand in the end they're gonna be responsible for their own security and part of that is going to be the capacity for them to make compromise. It also means that states in the region. Stuff. Being ambivalent. About these extremist groups. -- true this is the -- that's. State actors. Who at times have thought that the way to advance their interest as well. Financing some of these groups as proxies. Is not such a bad strategy. And part of our message to the entire region is the should be a wake up call to assuming this year. To everybody. That. A group like crisis. Is beyond the pale. That. They have no. Vision or ideology beyond. Violence. And chaos. And the slaughter of innocent people. And as a consequence. We've got to all joined together even if we have differences on a range of political issues to make sure that the rooted out or cut grass. The president. Despite all of the action the west has taken. Get Russian pullback Ukraine. -- seems intent on taking one step after another convoys transporting. At what point do sanctions no longer or would you. It the possibility. That the military action -- questionable factors for. We are not. Taking military action to solve these clinical. What we're doing is to mobilize international community to apply pressure -- But. I think it is very important to recognize that. A military solution to this problem. Is not going to be forthcoming. Now. The fact that. Russia has taken these actions in violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the ukrainians. Has resulted. I believe and a weakening of -- not a strength -- -- That may not be apparent immediately. But I think it will become increasingly. What it's also done is. Isolated Russia from its trading partners. It's commercial partners international business. In ways that I think are going to be very difficult to recover. And we will continue to stand firmware is our allies and partners that what is happening as long. That there is a solution that allows. Ukraine and Russia do live peacefully. But. It is not. In the cards for us to see a military confrontation between Russia in the United States. In this region. Keep in mind however that I'm about to go to NATO conference. Ukraine is not. A member of NATO. But a number of those states that are close by our. And we take our article five. Commitments. To defend each other very serious. And that includes the smallest NATO members world's largest. And so part of the reason I think this made -- living is going to be so important is to refocus attention. On the critical function in the -- place to make sure that every countries contribute. In order them. Deliver on the promise. Of are article five assurances parties won't -- going to Estonia. Is to let the estonians -- That we mean what we say we respect to our our treaty obligations we don't have those treaty obligations what do you think. We do -- stand. Shoulder to shoulder with them and we're. Doing. Not just a lot of work diplomatically but also financial. In order to make sure that they have the best chance -- dealing with what is admittedly very difficult situation and -- President Obama speaking in the White House briefing room coming back to the microphone how. That's primarily a service. I've been very clear about. The fact that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. And my preference continues to be that congress act. I don't bring anybody thinks that congress can act in the short term but hope springs eternal that after the midterm elections they may act. In the meantime. What I've -- -- Johnson to do is to look at what kinds of executive authorities we have. In order to. Make the system work better. And you know we've had a lot of stakeholders Russians have a set of proposals is being worked out. And the one thing that I think has happened was the issue -- unaccompanied children. They got so much attention. A couple of months back. And -- part of the reason that was important. Was not because that represented. Eight. Huge unprecedented surge. And overall immigration the border but I do think that they've changed the perception the American people about. What's happening at the borders and so one of the things we've had. Have had to do is to work through systematically to make sure that specific. Problem in a fairly. Defined area of the border. There were starting to deal without the serious way. And the good news is we start to make some progress knew what we've seen so far is that this throughout the summer. The the number of apprehensions have been decreasing. Maybe that's. Counter intuitive but that's a good thing because that means that if you're folks are coming across. The number of apprehensions in August. Are down. From July and there are actually lower than they were in August of last year. Apprehensions in July were half of what they were in June so we're seeing a significant downward trend. In terms of these unaccompanied children. And what better I think. Allows us to do. It is to make sure that those kids are being taken care of properly review process. At the same time it's allowed us have been engaged in a broader conversation about what we need to do to get more resources down at the port. It would have been helped along of congress who voted for the supplemental that I -- what they did not. That means we've got to make some administrative -- is an executive choices about for example -- more immigration judges them. So that has kept us busy. But it has not stopped. The process of looking more broadly about how we. I get a Smart immigration system in place while we're waiting for congress to act. And it continues in my belief that if I can't see congressional action that. I need to do at least what I can. In order to make the system work better but you know. Some of these things do affect time lines and we're just gonna be working through. As systematically as possible. In order to get this done but have no doubt. In the absence of congressional action. I'm a director and make sure the system works that you are. And once again the president does walk away from the podium in the White House briefing room. Live coverage from CBS news. President Obama actually spoke for about half an hour an opening statement of about ten minutes than he took questions. For a couple of style points his voice is a little bit -- And he's wearing a light tan suit with matching tie -- out as usual dark suit. That's being commented upon aloft by commentators at Twitter especially now the president had several topics as initial low remarks covered the economy some improvement. In the gross domestic product. And how the US is still bombing ices in Iraq in developing a wider strategy that might include Syria. And then Russia's military pressure on Ukraine the US now calls that Russian aggression. CBS news White House correspondent Peter -- please help us wrap up there was no dramatic announcement but some important policy stands in what he said today. Absolutely Dan we got some new insights here on the president's thinking on a number of issues that are really on the front burner for him. You're right he's his voice did sound somewhat of course I thought. But he seemed a bit and we -- at times he was most animated at the end when he talked about taking action on his own about immigration. Reform and we're expecting that. At any time probably go after he returns. From his trip to Europe next week the president on the foreign policy issues though. Dramatically downplayed the widespread expectations that the US is on the verge of attacking Islamic state terrorists in their Syrian power base in fact. He declared there's no strategy on that yet. He is immediate goal is to protect US interest keep the group from gaining any further foothold in Iraq important to note Dan that the president. We'll be meeting with his national security team. Within the next few minutes to discuss these issues but again important to note. Nothing imminent expected in terms of US military action he said media reports suggesting a full scale elaborate strategy to a defeat Beisel are off base that this part point. On Ukraine he described the Russian moves as any incursion. And he indicated that it will lead to more sanctions to further isolate Moscow. But he flatly ruled out any military response not that anything along those lines. That was expected and so. We will be covering the president's consultations with key allies on these and other issues as he travels to the needed a NATO summit in Wales next week. That's our White House correspondent Peter mayor thank you Peter and a lot of people are indeed noticing that one sentence he said. But whether the US might bomb on -- solar rice's in Syria the president said we don't have a strategy yet. A lot more coverage in the hours ahead on the radio and on our free app for your Smartphone the app. Is CBS radio news this has been a CBS news special report I'm Dan ruby.