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JOSH EARNEST: Are we going to light our hair on fire every time that there is a setback in the campaign against ISIL or are we going to take very seriously our responsibility to evaluate those areas where we succeed and evaluate where steps are necessary for us to change our strategy where we sustain setbacks?
JONATHAN KARL: On the overall track record of military operations, and the president’s strategy on this, you said we’ve seen periods of progress and success. Would you say that overall the strategy has been a success?
JOSH EARNEST: Look Jon, yeah, overall, yes. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been areas of setback as we saw in Ramadi.
KARL: Exporting terror to Libya? Taking over the capitol of Iraq’s largest province? This is overall success?
EARNEST: We’ve also seen a coalition of 60 nations around the world join the U.S. in this fight, we’ve seen a new Prime Minister take office in Iraq and unite that country and deploy a multisectarian army that has succeeded in liberating areas of Diyala, Ninevah, Babel, Kirkuk provinces.
We’ve seen important Iraqi security force gains in Tikrit and Ramadi, we’ve also seen strategic areas like Sinjar Mountain and Mosul Damn where Iraqi security forces have emerged victorious, but we have also seen significant periods of setbacks, and that is what a military conflict is going to be, particularly one that is going to be a long-term proposition like this one.