In an interview with CNN yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked, “Is the United States at war with ISIS?” Kerry rebuffed the notion of “war,” calling it the “wrong terminology.” Instead, Kerry dubbed it, “A very significant counter-terrorism operation.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also refused to call the effort announced by President Obama Wednesday a “war.”
Today, however, Earnest reversed vocabulary, saying the U.S. was indeed “at war” with ISIS. This was backed up by a Pentagon acknowledgement saying the same thing:
ALERT: Pentagon acknowledges that the U.S. is “at war” with ISIS.
— CNBC Politics (@CNBCPolitics) September 12, 2014
All of this as the Obama White House insists it maintains authority to strike ISIS without further action from Congress. It cites the post-9/11 Authorization of Military Force that Congress passed in 2001 and allowed President Bush to declare a “War on Terrorism.”
White House says IS roots as al-Qaeda in Iraq, possible ongoing contacts, reverence for bin Laden, use of AQ tactics mean 2001 AUMF applies
— Olivier Knox (@OKnox) September 11, 2014
As much as President Obama intended to send a message of strength and resolve in the wake of his speech Wednesday night by laying out the ISIS threat, the ensuing muddle as to whether the nation is actually “at war” has completely erased any credibility the president may have won back. He’s gone from “no strategy” to “strategy.” But, he’s now completely confused the country about what the strategy constitutes.