Right Hooks

Administration's 'War' Word Games Miss the Point

Sep. 15, 2014

We are not at war with ISIL. We are at war with ISIL. Which is it? Apparently, whatever suits your fancy. Shortly after State Secretary John Kerry declared that America is not at war with the Islamic State, he conceded that we are. “[I]n terms of al-Qaida,” he said, “which we have used the word war with, yeah, we’re at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates. And in the same context, if you want to use it, yes, we’re at war with ISIL in that sense.” But Kerry thinks “it’s a waste of time to focus on that.” His colleagues were out singing varying strains of that tune, too. “The United States is at war with ISIL in the same way that we are at war with al-Qaida and its al-Qaida affiliates all around the globe,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday. “Make no mistake; we know we are at war with ISIL,” added Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, on the other hand, said, “I don’t know whether you want to call it a war or a sustained counterterrorism campaign” because we won’t have “American combat forces on the ground fighting.” Whatever you call it, the administration is being clear about one thing: Barack Obama is nothing like George W. Bush. The incessant flip-flopping within this administration is absolutely appalling and reveals just how incoherent its foreign policy is.

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