Just because the U.S. military is launching cruise missiles and other ordnance at Libyan forces loyal to strongman Moammar Gadhafi doesn't mean you can say the U.S. is at war, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Better to call it an "action." Even better to call it a "time-limited, scope limited military action," according to Carney. That's tough to fit into a headline but that's the language the White House would prefer.
Here's Carney's exchange with reporters over what to call the Libya unwar/action:
REPORTER: What is this military action? We've been asking. Is it a
war, and if it is not a war —
MR. CARNEY: It is a time-limited, scope-limited military action,
in concert with our international partners, with the objective of
protecting civilian life in Libya from the — from Moammar Gadhafi and his forces.
REPORTER: But not a war?
MR. CARNEY: I'm not going to get into the terminology. I think
what it is certainly not is, as others have said, you know, a large-
scale military — you know, open-ended military action that — the
kind of which might otherwise be described as a war. There's no
ground troops, as the president said. There's no land invasion. I
think there is precedent for — multiple, multiple precedents for this
by presidents of both parties, in terms of taking this kind of
I would point you to the action taken by President Clinton in
Bosnia, which was similar in that it involved the establishment and
enforcement of a no-fly zone.
And I'm not sure how Fox describes it or other outlets describe that
action, but it is a similar kind of — similar kind of action,
although this will be, we believe, you know, more limited in time and
scope in terms of U.S. involvement.