quite often during the Bush administration. It doesn't seem to get asked much under Obama. Matter of fact, just a few years ago Obama folks were suggesting the war was on the verge of being won.
But according to the Rand Corp, we are certainly not winning in any sense of the word, assuming the definition of winning is cutting down the number and influence of Islamic terrorists. The fact that a liberal president and preemptive recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize had to go back to war in a place he had "ended one" in 2011 says a lot about the threat.
Here on the 13th anniversary of the second major jihadist attack on America (the first one didn't get everyone's attention), it's worth asking today where we stand. Such a discussion could easily get a little long-winded and ambiguous, but it's more useful to observe how our leadership is framing the battle and the combatants today.
We begin at the State Department briefing, where spokesgal Marie Harf was asked today about the term 'war on terror'. She said she's never used it, nor would she ever use it to describe what's going on with terrorism. Earlier today her boss John Kerry was asked whether the United States was 'at war' with ISIS-- he said no.
Evidently the State Department doesn't characterize dropping bombs and forming a war coalition to aid 'moderate' boots on the ground to fight a common enemy as a 'war'. It's something else, perhaps a "contingency operation" in response to "workplace violence" from "violent extremists".
Even the Commander-in-Chief himself, during his 'tough' speech last night announcing we're going to increase our non-war kinetic activity against a non-enemy, couldn't even admit that ISIS was 'Islamic'.
Top everything off with the administration's weird but apparently deliberate strategy of calling IS, or ISIS, "I S I L" or Isil. IS came about when AQ in Iraq, later Islamic State of Iraq, merged with a like-minded groups operating in Syria against Assad and changed their name to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Levant), or ISIS. Some say the last S means "Greater Syria". ISIL is another name for it, using L for Levant, an area which includes Israel. They now call themselves the Islamic State while the administration continues to call them ISIL.
Why? The possibilities are many, including: 1) not acknowledging them as a State, which was made clear in the speech last night, 2) ISIS sounds meaner than ISIL (the Ace of Spades people were calling Obama's plan VAGISIL today), or 3) The last S in ISIS connotes "Syria", which the administration wants no part of due to their recent history there so they use the L for Levant, maybe to tweak Israel, who knows.
So, in 2014 our leadership will not admit our terrorist enemies are Islamic, can't agree on what to call them, and don't consider us at war with them, despite using the Authorization for Use of Military Force to 'destroy' them with war weapons. That's where we stand. Are we winning? Doesn't appear so. But if winning actually means 'containing' or 'managing', or making them a 'nuisance', well, we're not quite hitting that goal either, depending on the definition of nuisance.