There was a time not so long ago when the White House said al Qaeda was on its heels, the tide of war was receding, and the U.S. was turning its attention to Asia. It was a happier time in terms of foreign policy. America would lead from behind and not do stupid sh#t, even if that meant staying on the sidelines as Syria and, later, Iraq imploded.

Then along came the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The rise of these fanatics in Iraq and Syria means many things. If they are not stopped, the borders that define the modern Middle East will be erased. The remaining Christian, Turkmen, Yazidis, and other ethnic minorities living in the region will be cleansed.

But Obama has been strangely reluctant to go all in against ISIS.

ISIS is part of the war on terrorism. One need only scan the group’s social media accounts or watch an extraordinary documentary from Vice Media where a young 14-year-old says he hopes one day to raise the black flag of Jihad over the White House to understand that these fighters threaten America and the West.

But those American jets bombing ISIS positions outside of Mosul, at the base of Sinjar and on the outskirts of Irbil, mean Obama is fighting the same kind of long, ideological war he has spent most of his presidency trying to end.

True, ISIS and al Qaeda aren’t on good terms these days—the success of ISIS poses a direct challenge to al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and it has even battled al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria. But they share a common core of ideology that drives the entire jihadist threat against the West.

Despite this, Obama has labored to limit the war on terror to the organization that attacked us on 9/11, which officially began on September 14, 2001 when Congress passed a resolution declaring war on al Qaeda and others who planned the horrific attacks of 9/11.

In 2009 in one of his first major speeches on behalf of the new Obama administration, John Brennan, who was then one of Obama’s top advisers on counter-terrorism and is today the director of the CIA, said the administration was no longer calling it a “war on terrorism” or describing al Qaeda as “Jihadists.”

Obama relied on the September 14 resolution, like Bush, to authorize drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. But Obama has also sought to phase this war authorization out, challenging Congress to narrow or revoke it.

Read the original story at the Daily Beast

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