CNN Journalists Blast Nonsensical Obama Admin. Spin on ISIS

On Wednesday's New Day, CNN kept up their skepticism of the Obama administration's talking points on ISIS. Chris Cuomo noted that "the word from the White House is...that we are having success....How does that make sense, given...we just saw what happened in Paris?" Christiane Amanpour threw cold water on John Earnest's claim that there wasn't a military solution for the terrorist group: "Most military analysts who I speak to...say right now, there needs to be a military solution. You have to eradicate ISIS, and that's not going to happen with some nice de-radicalization programs." [video below]

Jim Sciutto later made the most blunt assessment of the Obama White House's spin on the issue:

JIM SCIUTTO: ...The argument — the statistic that Josh Earnest used is — one, it's weeks old. I've heard it from the administration, going back months, that they've denied them 25 percent of the territory and populated areas in Iraq. And see, I've looked at the map. It's hard to figure out, to me, what they're talking about there....

The far more difficult argument to make — which he made — is that they're denying them a safe haven there. But listen — I mean, if you've plotted an attack on the streets of Paris; and, in the span of a week, brought down a Russian plane and killed 60 some odd people on the streets of Beirut with suicide bombers; you have enough of a safe haven to project terror power beyond those borders — meanwhile, greater territory being gained in the Sinai, in Libya, and elsewhere. It's just a very difficult argument to make that you have made military progress against this group.

Cuomo brought on the two journalists after finishing an interview of a former French commando on the security situation in France after the terrorist attack in Paris. Hours earlier, Amanpour had bemoaned how the massacres "literally stok[e] the fires of the far right, anti-immigrant, anti-immigration, xenophobic parties" across Europe. However, it's clear that she's sticking by her criticism of the Obama administration's anti-ISIS strategy that she first voiced on Monday.

The transcript of the exchange between Chris Cuomo, Christiane Amanpour, and Jim Sciutto from the November 18, 2015 edition of CNN's New Day:

CHRIS CUOMO: Christiane Amanpour, Jim Sciutto with us here, as they have been for hours now. We talked to Josh Earnest. The word from the White House is, set within the context of success — that we are having success. This has shown that ISIS can't operate in as many places. How does that make sense, given that — we just saw what happened in Paris; we just saw what happened in Egypt? It seems that they have more capabilities than ever, not fewer.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Well, look, they're making some progress, some places — but then, like a, sort of, pop-up mole sort of situation, it's popping up elsewhere. And we've seen it here. We've seen it in Beirut, Turkey, all over the place — the Russian passenger plane.

So, the thing is, yes, there have been some successes — because they keep telling us — you know, a few months ago, we would have never had the coalition that we do — you know, we would never have the peace track that we do; we'd never been able to put special forces on the ground.

So, of course, the question is, well, if you can do it now, why didn't you do it earlier before this metastasized into this vile army?

CUOMO: Great word

AMANPOUR: Now, here's the real serious thing: Josh Earnest said there is no military solution to this. True, in the long term, it has to be a political — you know, economic, cultural solution to this issue, and a de-radicalization and destroying the ideology.

However, most military analysts who I speak to — including former NATO officials; including CNN analysts, military analysts — say right now, there needs to be a military solution. You have to eradicate ISIS, and that's not going to happen with some nice de-radicalization programs or some slow — you know, play the long game — try to push them back—

CUOMO: It's going to be might makes right for two main reasons. Jim—

AMANPOUR: So — well, so, military first; and then, the long game

CUOMO: Absolutely! Everybody has always understood the — that combination. You're right. It's in short supply right now, in terms of its balance. But Jim, why do you need to take them out where they are?

JIM SCIUTTO: The reason there's a military role is you have to deny them their safe haven — as an operating base which has both propaganda, philosophical value. They've established the Islamic State. They are now a magnet for every Islamist in the world. Two, it allows them operationally to carry out attacks. We're seeing that here [in Paris].

The argument — the statistic that Josh Earnest used is — one, it's weeks old. I've heard it from the administration, going back months, that they've denied them 25 percent of the territory and populated areas in Iraq. And see, I've looked at the map. It's hard to figure out, to me, what they're talking about there. I mean, at a minimum, they can say that they've stopped the territorial advance of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The far more difficult argument to make — which he made — is that they're denying them a safe haven there. But listen — I mean, if you've plotted an attack on the streets of Paris; and, in the span of a week, brought down a Russian plane and killed 60 some odd people on the streets of Beirut with suicide bombers; you have enough of a safe haven to project terror power beyond those borders — meanwhile, greater territory being gained in the Sinai, in Libya, and elsewhere. It's just a very difficult argument to make that you have made military progress against this group—

CUOMO: And we're going to get a different—

AMANPOUR: The acceleration needs to happen

CUOMO: Yes—

AMANPOUR: They need to accelerate all of this. That more power projection to do this. And French President Francois Hollande has said — and we're going to hear him soon — that Syria is — quote, 'the biggest terrorist factory in the world right now.'

NBDaily Foreign Policy Africa Libya Egypt Europe Iraq Middle East Syria War on Terrorism Liberals & Democrats CNN New Day Video Chris Cuomo Christiane Amanpour Jim Sciutto Barack Obama
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