Return of the Bush Doctrine

The Obama administration has doggedly refused to call what it proposes to do in Syria and Iraq a “war,” a fact that I found odd but hadn’t thought much about. Why is Obama so determined to avoid the word “war”?

AllahPundit answers the question brilliantly: if it were a war, then it would be a pre-emptive war! “Question for the State Department: Isn’t Obama waging preemptive war in Iraq now?”

I would have phrased the question differently, like, say, “When exactly did President Obama decide that the Bush doctrine is awesome?” Because he has, you know. But we needn’t quibble over semantics. Marie Harf’s non-denial:

“When we talk about how you degrade and defeat terrorist organizations, it’s not exactly I think how you’re probably using the term,” said Harf. “And it’s not one that I’m using. Our goal is to prevent terrorist organizations from being able to attack the United States or our interests, to degrade their capabilities to do so. Obviously those are the kinds of terms I would use when it comes to this current effort.”

Preventing a dangerous enemy from hitting the U.S. by hitting him first sounds pretty preemptive-y to me. If I understand her correctly, the reason this isn’t preemptive war a la Bush is because it isn’t war, period. A war is something you engage in against a nation-state; we don’t recognize ISIS’s caliphate, ergo, they’re just a bunch of terrorists and preemptive war against terrorists is simply counterterrorism. I think that’s why you’re seeing such a moronic sustained effort today among White House mouthpieces to avoid using terms like “war” and “victory,” with Harf refusing even to accept “war on terrorism” as a label at the beginning of the video below. (Obama himself never once described the new “effort” against ISIS as a “war” last night, by the way.)

Of course. Obama and his minions may not think much about defeating our enemies, but they are implacable when it comes to what they really care about–distinguishing themselves from George W. Bush. It’s pretty much all they have left.

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