“The United States is at war with ISIL,” Earnest said at the routine midday press briefing Sept. 12.
But on Sept. 11, Secretary of State John Kerry evaded the question.
“I think what we are engaging in is a very significant counter-terrorism operation,” Kerry said. “If someone wants to think of 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,” he told CNN.
“I don’t know whether you want to call it a war or sustained counterterrorism campaign,” Susan Rice, Obama’s White House National Security Adviser, told CNN Sept. 11.
“I think, frankly, this is a counterterrorism operation that will take time… We will not have American combat forces on the ground fighting as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan which is what I think the American people think of when they think of a war,” Rice said.
“So I think this is very different from that,” she said.
Earnest shifted the White House’s PR strategy by admitting the U.S. is at war with a non-state actor — but he repeatedly emphasized that Obama will not send ground troops to Iraq.
“It is important for people in the United States… to understand the strategy that the United States is pursuing… is different from the strategy that was pursued in Iraq” by President George W. Bush, he said. Read more….