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.
Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
One of the stranger episodes of recent weeks is the reported death of an American who died fighting in Syria with the Islamic State. Stranger still is the Washington Post profile of this homegrown jihadist, Douglas McAuthur McCain, whose unlikely name was probably the most interesting thing about him.
Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
President Obama, at roughly 4:30 p.m. on August 28, referring to the terrorists of the Islamic State: “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.” Obama press secretary Josh Earnest, less than an hour later: “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.” Our conclusion: Never try to put lipstick on a horse before the horse is before the cart, or something.
Why has a terrorist state blossomed in Syria and Iraq? Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By HUSSAIN ABDUL-HUSSAIN and LEE SMITH
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist army many thousand strong now rampaging through the Levant, embraces such an extreme, violent ideology that it makes even al Qaeda squeamish, argue many Western experts. On this reading, al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri was forced to distance himself from ISIS’s bloody practices. In reality, the notion that ISIS’s gory campaign turns the stomach even of an arch-terrorist, America’s public enemy number one, is colorful but inaccurate.
Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
"Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won’t be easy and it won’t be quick,” President Obama told the American Legion’s annual convention in Charlotte on Tuesday, August 26. He repeated the thought in his pre-Labor Day weekend press conference on August 28. A week before, the day after the murder of James Foley, Obama had remarked, “From governments and peoples across the Middle East there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:19 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on the President's speech on his non-existent ISIS policy in the Middle East.
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:
4:46 PM, Aug 27, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
With lawmakers ratcheting up pressure on Obama to take action in Syria, few in the administration have been paying close attention to Libya, apparently.
3:08 PM, Aug 25, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Earlier today, the news broke that Peter Theo Curtis, an American who had been held hostage in Syria since 2012, has been released by his captors. Coming just days after another American hostage, James Foley, was brutally beheaded by the Islamic State, Curtis’s freedom brings a sense of relief.
8:01 AM, Aug 25, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
On Sunday, the boss joined George Stephanopolous, David Plouffe, Peggy Noonan, and Donna Edwards on ABC's This Week to talk about Iraq, Ferguson, Rick Perry's indictment, and a potential 2016 run from former Democratic senator Jim Webb. Stephanopolous referred to a recent WEEKLY STANDARD blog post on President Barack Obama's response to ISIS's brutal murder of American James Foley, titled "Appalling."
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.
10:28 AM, Aug 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
What, you sometimes think, is it with these people? Why are they so infatuated with death? First, the execution of James Foley by ISIS, carried off like a punk schoolyard stunt. And now, as the Chicago Tribune reports:
8:42 AM, Aug 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
General John Allen, who is retired from the military, says that the Islamic State (known as ISIS, ISIL, or IS) must be destroyed now.