11:55 AM, Aug 29, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Josh Earnest appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe Friday in damage-control mode after President Obama's "we don't have a strategy yet" remark during his press conference on Thursday. Almost immediately after the president made the comment in response to a question by Chuck Todd, Earnest took to Twitter to quash the firestorm of criticism that ensued from friend and foe alike:
In his remarks today, POTUS was explicit - as he has been in the past - about the comprehensive strategy we'll use to confront ISIL threat.
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) August 28, 2014
Friday, Earnest acknowledged the president's words, but tried to provide additional context to clarify the White House message. CBS's Mark Knoeller tweeted this recap of Earnest's remarks:
On @Morning_Joe, Earnest acknowledges "no plans right now" for ISIL in Syria, but that Pres has "comprehensive plan" for ISIL in Iraq.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 29, 2014
Rather than tamp down criticism, however, Earnest may have exacerbated the president's problem since his explanation contradicts a statement by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes just a week ago. Rhodes appeared with Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz at a press briefing in Edgartown, Massachusetts during the president's vacation. In response to a question about Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey's statement about how to defeat ISIL, Rhodes replied, "[W]e certainly agree that any strategy to deal with the ISIL organization has to deal with both sides of the border, Iraq and Syria." Here is the full exchange:
Q On Islamic State, yesterday General Dempsey said that Islamic State can only be defeated if the fight is taken to them in Syria. I wondered, is that -- does the President agree with that? And if so, how does he intend to undertake it? And would it mean a significant change in the mission against Islamic State?
MR. RHODES: Well, we certainly agree that any strategy to deal with the ISIL organization has to deal with both sides of the border, Iraq and Syria. The strategy that we are already undertaking does address that in the sense that we are providing training and equipping and assistance to the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish security forces who are fighting them on the ground in Iraq. We are also providing support and military assistance to the moderate Syrian opposition. What we would like to see is those efforts squeeze the space where ISIL operates.
But there are other elements to our strategy. One is to enlist the support of partners in the region and the international community, because this poses a significant threat not just to the United States and to the Iraqi and Syrian people, but to the entire region. And there are things that we can do with partners to mobilize communities in places like Iraq to work to expel ISIL.
Then there’s the question of U.S. military action. And the President has already authorized U.S. military action on the very specific missions of protecting our people and personnel and our facilities in Baghdad and Erbil. He’s also authorized military action to deal with the humanitarian crisis on Mount Sinjar. Again, as we look ahead and look forward, we are going to do what is necessary to protect Americans. And so if we see plotting against Americans, we see a threat to the United States emanating from anywhere, we stand ready to take action against that threat.
We’ve made very clear time and again that if you come after Americans, we’re going to come after you wherever you are. And that’s what’s going to guide our planning in the days to come.
Earnest has not yet responded to a request to square his remarks this morning with Rhodes's statement from last Friday.
9:10 AM, Aug 29, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Russia has "outright lied" to the United Nations about its actions in Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power charged during an emergency meeting Thursday of the Security Council. "At every step, Russia has come before this Council to say everything except the truth," Power said. "It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied.
Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By ELLEN BORK
Despite the attention paid to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy as lacking an “organizing principle,” there wasn’t much new in her interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Mostly the exchange covered issues on which her differences with the president are well known, such as arming the Syrian opposition and supporting Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Russia’s virtual reality.Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By CATHY YOUNG
"Maybe it’s all a matrix and we’re all like programs written by somebody else. . . . And none of us really exists, just the matrix. The program works, you live your life and think everything’s fine. Here you are drinking coffee right now.
12:16 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Less than a week before President Obama and other NATO leaders gather in Wales for a two day summit, NATO is accusing Russia having "well over 1,000 troops" in Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists continue to skirmish with Ukrainian forces.
9:57 AM, Aug 28, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
After news broke this morning of Russia furthering its invasion of Ukraine, the White House announced that President Obama will meet with the National Security Council later this afternoon in the Situation Room:
3:24 PM, Aug 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is publicly criticizing President Obama's response to the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the terror group ISIS.
Jindal explains "the crux of the matter." The U.S. has "a president who is disturbingly naïve and holds a dangerous utopian view of the world and the dangers therein."
Hosted by Michael Graham.1:05 PM, Aug 22, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the supposed "good failure" the Obama administration is touting in their failed effort to save the late James Foley, who was brutally killed by ISIS.
Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On Tuesday, August 19, an American citizen, James Foley, was savagely killed. The group of jihadists known as ISIL had previously killed and brutalized tens of thousands of non-Americans. But they killed Foley because he was an American. They titled the grotesque video of this particular act of barbarism “A message to America.”
What good does it do to needlessly publicize the failures of American military operations? 12:54 PM, Aug 21, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Yesterday, in response to the news that jihadi savages had killed an American journalist on YouTube, the Obama administration revealed that there had been a special forces operation that attempted and failed to rescue James Foley. For the life of me, I can't figure out why this was necessary information to reveal, beyond the fact that it was a cheap way of convincing the American people that Obama had been concerned about Foley's plight.
5:02 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden told a reporter today that the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the ISIS will not alter the approach to the terror group. An "AP reporter asked if Foley's beheading changed the U.S. approach to ISIS," the White House pool report reads. "Biden said no, but it shines a spotlight on the horrors going on in that part of the world."
On ISIS, Biden also said:
11:26 AM, Aug 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The tide may have temporarily turned in Iraq, as the administration is saying. But the long view regarding ISIS is somewhere between challenging and bleak. As Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller of the Washington Post report: