Syracuse National Security Expert Reacts to President Obama's ISIS Plan

Sep 11, 2014

The areas under attack or control by terrorist group ISIS as of President Obama's speech Wednesday evening.
Credit Institute for the Understanding of War /

  A Syracuse University counter-terrorism expert says President Obama did not have many options when he presented his plan Wednesday night to “dismantle and ultimately destroy” ISIS.  Bill Smullen, Director of National Security Studies at the Maxwell School, says airstrikes are probably the only way the United States can have some impact without putting combat troops on the ground.

Now how this is going to play out is not necessarily a given. We’re gonna have to see how effective the Iraqis are in doing the job. We’re just gonna be advising them. So they’re gonna have to do the tough stuff… the combat part of it. And we’re also gonna have to see how Syria reacts to airstrikes… they’ve got anti-aircraft capability.”

Predator drones could be used in airstrikes as part of the president's plan.
Credit United States Air Force /

  Smullen also says the United States can contain ISIS, but probably not eliminate them. He fears the security threat ISIS poses is not limited to Syria or Iraq, and could grow on our own soil.       

They are using social media so effectively that they can attract Americans who want to be involved in some ‘noble cause,’ as they see it, and that translates to the potential for homegrown terrorists.”

Smullen says that the thought of homegrown terrorists could adds an additional dimenson of fear. He believes that many Americans realize the threat from ISIS is bigger than that of Al-Qaeda, which is why the president's plan is getting support from a large number of Americans.