Monday, 7 December 2015


Trump is grousing over why Obama continues to refer to ISIS as "ISIL." A quibble? Perhaps not.
           The latter term was the one originally used by the media until it was discarded by almost everyone in favor of the more accurate term. The "ISIS" designation underscores the Syrian dimension of the threat, whereas "ISIL" embraces a wider but more vague conquest of the entire Levant. It was ISIS itself which corrected the media on the usage.
            These semantic niceties, however, do not explain Obama's perverse insistence on using the outdated term. As always, in politics, politics itself is the main explainer. 
          Obama knows that he can't control ISIS, so he instead wants to control our perception of it - and of him. Using the quirky "ISIL" suggests that he knows something the rest of us do not know, since we don't even know the correct terminology. When he uses the term, and during the recent spiel he used it a lot, he seems to be subtly trying to correct his critics, not just on usage but, by implication. on strategy itself. He's the authority around here, if you please!
         "ISIL" was what the US administration and the rest of the world called the group during its infancy, when it was, perhaps, still manageable and might have been nipped in the bud. Alas, to the world's misfortune and Obama's chagrin, it was not.
           Clearly, Obama, who hates being corrected, would like Americans to perceive the threat as being still relatively small, distant, and contained. In the alter-reality which he increasingly inhabits, it's still a JayVee, ISIL world.

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