In comments that will only raise new questions about the administration’s view of foreign policy, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters he believes the US will be able to “neutralize” ISIS much more quickly than it was able to do so with al-Qaeda.
“It took us quite a few years before we were able to eliminate Osama bin Laden and the top leadership and neutralize them as an effective force,” Kerry insisted, which raises the rather surprising suggestion that al-Qaeda, still active around the world, is “neutralized” in the administration’s view.
If the administration is using 9/11 through bin Laden’s 2011 death, it suggests the administration views the al-Qaeda war as having taken roughly a decade, and Kerry’s comments would mean they expect the ISIS war to last less than that.
But this must also raise questions, as ISIS got its start as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and was fighting the US as far back as the 2003 US occupation of Iraq. In that sense, it would mean the US has already been “fighting ISIS” in some form for over a decade as it is, and with officials talking up the current war lasting “a generation or more,” it’s hard to see how this could ever be spun as a “quicker” war, even if one accepts the dubious notion that the US ever really ended it’s al-Qaeda war.