Obama Administration: Libya Isn’t War But A “Kinetic Military Action”

Under heavy fire from all sides of the political spectrum for committing the US military to operations in Libya without even bothering to talk to Congress about it first, the Obama administration has been trying to spin those operations as not meeting the definition of a war.

White House officials have been telling Congress we’re not at war. Apparently, that’s because they’re calling it a kinetic military action.

In the last few days, Obama administration officials have frequently faced the question: Is the fighting in Libya a war? From military officers to White House spokesmen up to the president himself, the answer is no. But that leaves the question: What is it?

In a briefing on board Air Force One Wednesday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes took a crack at an answer. “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.”

Rhodes’ words echoed a description by national security adviser Tom Donilon in a briefing with reporters two weeks ago as the administration contemplated action in Libya. “Military steps — and they can be kinetic and non-kinetic, obviously the full range — are not the only method by which we and the international community are pressuring Gadhafi,” Donilon said.

Rhodes and Donilon are by no means alone. “Kinetic” is heard in a lot of descriptions of what’s going on in Libya. “As we are successful in suppressing the [Libyan] air defenses, the level of kinetic activity should decline,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a meeting with reporters in Moscow Tuesday. In a briefing with reporters the same day from on board the USS Mount Whitney, Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, said, “The coalition brings together a wide array of capabilities that allow us to minimize the collateral damage when we have to take kinetic operations.” On Monday, General Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, said of the coalition forces, “We possess certainly a very significant kinetic capability.” And unnamed sources use it too. “In terms of the heavy kinetic portion of this military action, the president envisions it as lasting days, not weeks,” an unnamed senior official told CNN Saturday.

In other words, if you want to spin criticism that you took the country to war without abiding by the Constitution’s requirements for going to war, just change the definition of what war is.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • SigFan

    Overseas Contingency Operations
    Man Caused Disasters
    Personal Responsibility Provision
    Obama Tax Cuts

    and now

    Kinetic Military Operation

    Call it whatever you want bonehead – but I bet if you ask the guys doing the fighting they’ll tell you it’s a war.

  • Lianne

    I engaged in strenuous kinetic activity yesterday for 2 hours shoveling and blowing that heavenly white stuff. Am I part of the activity in Libya?

  • tarpon

    It looks more like a clusterfark of incompetency.

  • Hannitized, Proofs obsession

    In other words, if you want to spin criticism that you took the country to war without abiding by the Constitution’s requirements for going to war, just change the definition of what war is.

    That’s funny. To people with intelligence it seems more that guys like Rob misunderstand and misname something and then cry foul (changing the definition) when their error has been corrected.

    • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

      Did you check this out with some people of intelligence? How did you identify them?

  • awfulorv

    Besides his being a juvenile doofus, he has an interest span of approximately :32 mins… It is now :37..

  • Ggulrud

    The Strap-on POTUS has become Unmitigated Disaster.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LXTBI7Z675QG63Y7USONOYUVIU Shrill Lib Idiot

    Kinetic Military Action must mean it’s Military Action at the direction of a Kenyan. So its OK. Its not a 3rd war Obama got us into. Right………….

  • mickey_moussaoui

    And those dead Libyan civilians are Kinetic Military Colateral Damage.

    Don’t ya just love lib spin?

    (starp-on POTUS…that’s funny)

  • mikemc1970

    Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t really wars either, they’re just reality based first person shooter experiences.

    • Hannitized, Proofs obsession

      “You know, some of you aren’t going to like what I have to say because I don’t believe in politicizing the Constitution,” Levin said. “I believe the Constitution is the rock of the society. All this talk about the attacks on Libya are unconstitutional because we don’t have a declaration of war – that’s ridiculous. That’s absolutely ridiculous. There are many occasions where we don’t have a declaration of war because a declaration of war would require that we use all of our might to destroy our enemy. So you can be involved in certain battles or military activities that would not require a declaration of war. You can look throughout American history to prove the point. You can actually look at the conduct of the Founders when they were in government, soon after the establishment of our government. Just be very careful about your arguments and think them through for a principled point of view. Don’t listen to Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, unless you want to be entertained. Stick with the Constitution.”

      Levin explained Congress could ultimately stop the military action against Libya if it wanted to – by defunding the war effort. However, he said neither Speaker of the House John Boehner, nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has shown any indication they want to do so.

      Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/23/mark-levin-defends-constitutionality-of-obamas-libya-policy-dont-listen-to-ron-paul-and-dennis-kucinich/#ixzz1HXYJRhs2

      I wonder if by “certain military activities” Levin had meant “Kinetic military action”?

      Actually, I don’t “wonder”, I know the answer. I just ask the rhetorical question so that you don’t feel so stupid.

      • mikemc1970

        Any time I feel stupid, I just read one of your posts, and it always makes me feel better.

        • Hannitized, Proofs obsession

          Yes, you always choose emotion over logic or your ability to debate like an adult. We know, we know.

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    Ah, yes, “Moving Military Movement.”

  • DopeyDem

    So does anyone think there is a jokester hiding in the White House? (Besides BHO himself)
    First it’s Winning The Future or WTF and now it’s Kinetic Military Action or KMA.
    So BHO’s new strategy can be described as What The F**k, you can all Kiss My A**.
    I think it’s brilliant. Is this some more unintended consequences or Harvard humor?

  • awfulorv

    The U.S. has made a great mistake by installing this spendthrift, vengeful, reparative, litigious, sophomoric, regime, to be sure, but what will the repercussions be? Most of the worlds despots are pretty good at terrorizing their own people, but even that takes time, to establish complete control. They are not nearly as good at taking on, even a weakened United States. But there are some who wish to control the entire world , and bend it to their wishes. Russia and China are the most likely culprits. Of these two, China is the most dangerous, IMO. Russia has a larger supply of bombs, and better delivery systems. But they seem to be lethargic about the effort needed to take over the world. Not so the Chinese, they are increasing espionage against us, they are vigorously building their submarine fleet, only recently one of their subs surfaced, undetected, in the midst of a joint naval exercise we were conducting with the Japanese. Talk about embarrassment! Their ability to jam, and disable, our computer systems is extremely worrisome, except to our current leaders, that is. they are accumulating precious rare earths, which will be a vital component of modern war fare. They’re coming to eat our lunch, and will, if the idiots who elected the last fool, are allowed to install the next clown, also. These are dangerous times folks. And every day we squander the respect our armed forces have garnered for us is a day we’ll be unable to retrieve, and use to shore up our defenses. And isn’t it fortunate, and shouldn’t we praise, that person who argued against a National Cemetery restricted only to presidents, and great American heroes? Had we done so the concentrated rolling in their graves would have caused huge earth temblors equalling anything emanating from the Far East recently.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    Call it Kinetic Military Action all you want, but this is war. At this point, the international community has two options: to either protect the opposition movement in Cyrenaica and not force Qaddafi out of power, or make Qaddafi’s ouster an explicit goal. The UN doesn’t have the stomach to be “all in”. If the Mediterranean turns into a zone of instability it will rest on Obama. Right now I think he misses Bush even more than we do.

  • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

    “Kinetic Military Action”… is that like WTF, stands for “Wining the future” with this administration?
    Because KMA also stands for “Kiss My Ass”.

  • http://sayanythingblog.com Mountainmouth

    They work so hard to make words have no meaning

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