In a rare Oval Office address, President Obama vowed Sunday night the United States would overcome a terror threat that has entered a "new phase" as he sought to reassure Americans shaken by recent attacks in Paris and California. "I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure," he said, speaking from his West Wing office in the wake of Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14. Obama said that while there was no evidence that the shooters were directed by a terror network overseas or part of a broader plot, "the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization" and "this was an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people."
He announced no significant shift in US strategy and offered no new policy prescriptions for defeating ISIS, underscoring both his confidence in his current approach and the lack of easy options for countering the extremist group. Obama reiterated that the US should not engage in a "long and costly ground war," referred to ISIS as "thugs and killers," and said the group does not speak for Islam. He added, "We cannot turn against one another," but he also said radicalism has spread into some Muslim communities and has become a problem that Muslim leaders "must confront without excuse." While Obama has spoken frequently about ISIS recently, the decision to speak in prime time reflected concern among his advisers that his message isn't breaking through.