President Barack Obama dismissed Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's suggestion that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, can be easily defeated, saying that the former neurosurgeon just doesn't understand the issue.
Obama chuckled when asked to respond to Carson's assessment that the United States could take out ISIS' oil fields "fairly easily."
"What I think is that he doesn't know much about it," Obama told George Stephanopoulos in a clip that ran on "Good Morning America" on Friday. "I think it's fair to say over the last several years I've had access to all the best military minds in the country. And all the best foreign policy minds in the country. I'm not running for office, and my only interest is in success."
"And if I'm down in the situation room talking with people who have worked in these regions and run major military operations...and they don't think it's easy, then it's probably not easy," he continued.
During Tuesday's Republican debate, Carson gave a really strange answer on his Middle East outlook, saying top generals had told him taking assets away from ISIS would be easy.
" I think in order to make them look like losers, we have to destroy their caliphate. And you look for the easiest place to do that? It would be in Iraq. And if -- outside of Anbar in Iraq, there's a big energy field. Take that from them," Carson said. "Take all of that land from them. We could do that, I believe, fairly easily, I've learned from talking to several generals, and then you move on from there."
Republican candidate Donald Trump, who is leading in Republican polls alongside Carson, has also said ISIS could be defeated by bombing oil fields.
"ISIS is making a tremendous amount of money because they have certain oil caps, right? They have certain areas of oil that they took away, they have some in Syria, some in Iraq," Trump said at a rally on Thursday. "I would bomb the shit out of 'em."
Obama also disputed the suggestion that ISIS has gained strength.
"From the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained. They have not gained ground in Iraq. In Syria, they'll come in, they'll leave, but you don't see the systematic march by ISIL across the terrain," he said. "What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures. We've made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters and part of our goal has to be to recruit more effective Sunni partners in Iraq to really go on offense rather than simply engage in defense."
Obama's full interview with Stephanopoulos will air Sunday on "This Week."
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