Video: Kerry Says US Not at War With ISIS

Posted: Sep 12, 2014 3:15 PM

We flagged this quote yesterday afternoon, but here's our Secretary of State tap-dancing around the word 'war:'

"I think that's the wrong terminology. What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counter-terrorism operation, and it's going to go on for some period of time. If someone wants to think about it as being a war on ISIL, they can do so, but the fact is, it’s a major counter-terrorism operation that will have many different moving parts."

Susan Rice -- not exactly Ms. Credibility by any stretch of the imagination -- is playing the same semantics game.  The renewed and expanded war in Iraq and now Syria is not a war. Neither was the "kinetic military action" in Libya (which has since imploded). The smoking gun Benghazi emails weren't about Benghazi. The Fort Hood massacre was "workplace violence." The Boston bombings were not acts of terrorism.  And the Islamic State is not Islamic.  Words have meanings, and the American people shouldn't tolerate being treated like imbeciles. The newly-announced operation is aimed at degrading and destroying an enemy.  It entails heavy, sustained airstrikes.  It involves hundreds of additional pairs of "boots on the ground," even if they're in a non-combat role.  And officials warn that it will be a lengthy endeavor.  That's a war.  It may be a substantively different sort of war than one involving a large-scale ground invasion, but it's a war nonetheless.  Most voters are mature enough to understand this.  The administration seems intent on belaboring these trifling distinctions for the purposes of political insulation (most Americans, especially in the Democratic base, oppose ground troops), and as legal cover.  Just last year, President Obama called for the phase out and repeal of a 2001 AUMF upon which the administration is now relying as a legal basis for carrying out this new mission.  A number of scholars have argued the terms of that 13-year old Congressional resolution does not pertain to the operation against ISIS.

Let me stipulate that I favor much of the president's four-point plan outlined Wednesday night, with some caveats: It seems to me that he ought to seek -- and receive -- an updated Congressional authorization for the anti-ISIS campaign, the scope of which continues to widen, and arming the 'moderate' rebels in Syria appears to be a risky and quite possibly quixotic proposition.  I'm also concerned that the president reportedly discarded the military's advice on achieving victory; plus, the direct line connecting the president's studied indifference to the burgeoning ISIS threat and the current crisis cannot be ignored.  But now that action is finally being taken, Americans should support the fight against this unspeakably brutal and frighteningly well-resourced army of up to 32,000 radical jihadists.  That being said, this scenario still presents an object lesson in the incoherence of his foreign policy.  One year ago, Obama delivered a prime time address calling for airstrikes against the Assad regime in Syria.  We are now bombing Assad's primary enemy in Syria, and Assad is offering his assistance.  Several months ago, Obama dismissed ISIS as a "JV" team.  Now he calls them a "cancer" that will take years to defeat.  And four weeks ago, the president ridiculed the prospect of arming "moderate" rebels inside Syria, saying the idea "has always been a fantasy."  Today, it's step two in his own four-step strategy.  No wonder "smart power" is in the dumpster: