Not only do Americans not know what exactly the mission is in Libya but we do not even know what to call it. We now know that the people in the Obama administration are calling it "kinetic military action". I kid you not.
As Rich Galen wrote this week:
That "3 AM" ad from the 2008 primary campaign finally came true. Obama started a non-war and headed off to South America. Hillary really did have to answer the phone.
And, Galen writes, let's not call this action in Libya a war. No. It's called "kinetic military action".
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes apparently let the cat out of the bag regarding how they refer to a war around Obama's White House. He told reporters aboard Air Force One that what the world was witnessing was not a war, but "kinetic military action."
The Obama Administration has apparently redefined the word "war" so that only kinetic military action using troops on the ground counts.
According to THIS Rhodes "danced around the question" of war in Libya:
“I think what we are doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone,” Rhodes said. “Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end. But again, the nature of our commitment is that we are not getting into an open-ended war, a land invasion in Libya.”
So while a United States-led coalition hammers Libya with Tomahawk missiles and precision bombs in support of a rebel challenge to strongman Muammar Qadhafi, a shadow war over the semantics of armed conflict has erupted in the domestic political debate.
For the swell, sophisticated crowd of the Ivy Leagues, it's all about international law definitions:
There’s no relevance to the word war,” says Michael Byers, a professor of international law at the University of British Columbia. “If you look at the U.N. charter, it’s framed in terms of the use of force.”
In international humanitarian law the term “armed conflict” is applied, Byers said. “It is precisely [because] of a public perception that a war is something that is on a larger scale, when in fact international law seeks to control behavior in any kind of situation of organized violence.”
Oh, ok. How silly of us to call use of force in an armed conflict "a war". Those progressives are so intellectual.
The President's spokespeople insist that he will not give an Oval Office address about this kinetic military action. Secretary of State Clinton has been the face of this conflict. Why? Because it is re-election time, that's why. This is a president who campaigned about the "bad war" in Iraq and the "good war" in Afghanistan. This is a president who has failed supporters and non-supporters alike. This is a president who we, the voters, were told would make the world love us and salvage relationships injured under the previous administration. This is a president who has gone out of his way to do a world tour apologizing for the greatness of America. He does not want to be a war president, certainly not again in a Muslim nation in the middle east.
Kinetic military action. That's what we'll call it. Sounds so much nicer than war.