The Bizarre Talking Point That U.S. Isn’t Retaliating Against ISIS


A talking point has been born:

This was voiced by Bob Schieffer yesterday. “We have another American hostage killed, and Congress and the president goes off to California to do a fundraiser and some other stuff,” Schieffer said, contrasting the U.S.’s response to Jordan’s. The point was then reiterated by conservative commentator Tammy Bruce on Fox News Monday, when she denied a claim that western responses against ISIS could be used by the Sunni militants as a recruiting tool. “I don’t think they’re going to be recruiting much with the Jordanian reaction,” she said. “I think if we had more of Jordanian reaction, far fewer people will want to run into that arena.”

Why isn’t the U.S. leading more Jordanian-like responses? Answer: the U.S. is, on a pretty much daily basis, and has been for six months. Coalition forces led nine strikes over the weekend, and, per White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Face the Nation yesterday, have led over 2,400 since the beginning of military operations last summer. The Department of Defense posts regular updates on air strikes; the most recent, from four days ago, detailed twelve strikes on ISIS — all conducted in the forty-eight hours after Kayla Mueller’s death. So much for selfie sticks.

The real request here is not for more airstrikes — on which both Egypt and Jordan are actually latecomers — but for better propaganda about them. Fox News, Schieffer, and others loved the story of Jordanian King Abdullah suiting up to fly missions against ISIS himself. It’s exactly the sort of heroic specter, reminiscent of the previous U.S. president landing on an aircraft carrier, that forms the visual vocabulary of pro-war logic.

It was also untrue; the pictures of Abdullah in flight gear were from months before, when he visited ailing children in a hospital. He is not, as claimed, a fighter pilot, and he flew no missions against ISIS. We haven’t led the “Jordanian response” these figures demand because, like all war imagery, it’s a fantasy.

[Image via screengrab]

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