Departing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced reporters today to address a bevy of questions about whether – and how – the U.S. will move to protect what’s left of its interests in Baghdad as an army of highly-organized ISIS insurgents wrest control of cities from the Iraqi government in a decisive trek towards the capital.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Carney whether the ISIS assault discredits the Obama Administration’s repeated boasts over the manner in which it (thought it had) resolved America’s indefinite entrenchment in Iraqi’s young, U.S-installed government.
“The President and senior officials in this White House have repeatedly – over the years and as recently as Tuesday – described as the President’s top foreign policy accomplishment ending the war in Iraq and decimating and destroying core al Qaeda,” said Karl. “Given what we’re seeing now in Iraq, can you still claim those as two of your signature achievements?”
Carney had no choice but to dissemble, eventually offering this:
“What is also the case, and what the President made clear as we wound down the war in Iraq, is that we need to be a good partner to the government in Iraq and provide the assistance that we can at their request to help them meet their security challenges, and we have done that,” Carney said. “Ultimately, Iraq’s future has to be decided through reconciliation of the political factions within Iraq and a unified approach to dealing with the challenge posed by a group like the ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – an appellation interchangeable with ISIS].”
Karl kept trying. All Carney would say is that nobody could argue that “core Al-Qaida” in Afghanistan and Pakistan (he didn’t mention Iraq) had been “severely compromised and decimated.”