When President Obama addressed the American people on national TV Wednesday night, he made a point of not saying the United States is at war with Islamic State terrorists. In fact, in announcing the escalation of military action against ISIS/ISIL, Obama avoided the word “war”, instead calling the stepped-up campaign a counterterrorism operation.
As the Washington Times notes, the president was careful to say what his approach to the fight is NOT:
“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama said. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.”
Plus, the president’s traveling point man helping to assemble an international coalition against ISIS, John Kerry, also says the enhanced effort to stop the terrorists’ onslaught is NOT a war.
And in a series of interviews Thursday, Mr. Kerry avoided using the term “war” several times to describe the intensifying conflict. He said the administration’s strategy to combat the Islamic State consists of “many different things that one doesn’t think of normally in context of war.”
“What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation.”
So both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are “let me be perfectly clear” firm — NO WAR.
Enter White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who, according to the Washington Times, acknowledged Friday that the U.S. is engaged in a WAR. In clear contradiction to what both Obama and Kerry previously said, Earnest told reporters at a White House briefing:
“The United States is at war with [the Islamic State] in the same way that we are at war with al Qaeda and its al Qaeda affiliates all around the globe.”
This is the same Josh Earnest who was repeatedly flip and dismissive of a reporter who asked him on Thursday to explain what would constitute a “win” in the war/non-war against the ruthless Islamic State.
Asked to explain the White House’s vision of “victory” in the fight against ISIL, Press Sec. Josh Earnest replied, “I didn’t bring my Webster’s dictionary with me up here.”
“My second question, which is a little bit broader and a little bit hypothetical, but what does that victory look like here? I mean, you’re talking about destroying ISIL, I honestly don’t know what that means. What does it mean?”
“I didn’t bring my Webster’s dictionary with me up here,” Earnest replied, even though the reporter had expressly said his question was “broader” and “hypothetical” – not one requiring an exacting definition.
One has to wonder if Mr. Earnest will be so cute with his boss if called into the Oval Office to explain why he told the press that Obama’s new non-war IS a war.
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