There’s no question that ISIS believes that it as at war with the US. It keeps saying so.
And the US has launched several dozen airstrikes against them, while we are also arming and advising the Kurds who are fighting them on the ground. We’re also advising the Iraqi security forces. ISIS just beheaded an American journalist and is threatening to murder another one.
But the State Department, represented here by Marie Harf, doesn’t believe that those facts constitute “war.”
At a briefing Thursday, a reporter brought up anti-American comments from ISIL leaders: “I mean, even they are announcing, ISIL people in their message, whatever, the recorded message, other messages, that now we are in a war with America.”
“This is not about ISIL versus the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf objected. “They are killing anyone who gets in their way: Sunnis, Shia Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Iraqis, Syrians, anyone who gets in their way — and now an American.”
“So this is not about what the United States is or isn’t doing,” Harf continued. “This is about ISIL stated a commitment to murder, rape, enslave people who don’t agree with their ideology and who get in their way.”
“But they are announcing that it’s a war against America,” the reporter pressed. “Right or wrong, that’s what they are saying.”
Harf maintained, “Well, they can say whatever they’d like, but what I am making clear is that’s not what ISIL represents. And they don’t represent any religion. They are at war with everybody they come into contact with.”
They’re not at war with the westerners they keep recruiting. They have about 1500 British citizens they have come into contact with, who have joined ISIS.
What’s the game here that State is playing?
I’m on the record that Harf is cute, but that she’s a terrible spokesperson for the US. Terrible. She gets snarky and defensive when reporters ask her legitimate questions, and she is of a mind that hashtags have replaced tanks and airplanes in modern warfare.
It would be nice if that were true. But it’s a fantasy to believe that it is. Hashtags won’t even get you through a game of Risk.
Here, Harf is not speaking on her own. She is delivering the official message. She is representing what Secretary of State John Kerry believes, who is supposed to be in sync with what President Obama believes. But he may not be. Obama isn’t exactly fully on task these days, unless the task is working on his putting game.
So Kerry believes that it’s not in our interests not to admit that we’re at war with ISIS — the worst thing to hit the world since al Qaeda.
Kerry also tweeted yesterday that ISIS should be “crushed.”
How and why should we crush an entity that we’re not even at war with?