Karl to Earnest: "Why Does Obama Not Use The Word War When Describing" ISIS?


JON KARL, ABC NEWS: Back to the campaign operation, whatever you want to call it, against ISIS. Why does the president never use the word war when describing this? I know we had some back and forth here and you eventually used it. But we haven't -- if I am correct, we haven't heard him say this is a war. Does he consider it a war?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: Well, yes. Based on the position I have clearly articulated that the United States in the same way that we are at war with al Qaeda and their affiliates all around the globe we're at war with ISIL. But when I say we, it's important for people to understand that I'm talking about the broader international coalition and the international community that's being led by the United States is at war with ISIL.

What the president, when he's describing what we're doing there, is trying to do a couple of things. The first, obviously, is to be very clear about what our intentions are and what our intentions aren't. The second is the president has gone to great lengths to try to describe to you and to the American public that the counterterrorism strategy that we are pursuing in Iraq and in Syria is consistent with the counterterrorism strategy that we've used successfully in other places. This is a strategy that's predicated on building up governments, building up the capacity of local forces, backing them up with American military, if necessary, to take the fight to extremist organizations on the ground and deny them a safe haven...

Now, what's also clear is that this strategy is significantly different than the war that was fought in Iraq earlier in the previous administration principally. And the president believes that's important for people to understand too, that, again, we do not envision a scenario where there is a long column of American tanks rolling across the Iraqi border with the goal of taking and occupying significant swaths of iraqi territory. So I think the effort are picking up on is an effort to try to differentiate the strategy that the president is employing in this situation from the strategy that was employed earlier this decade in Iraq.

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