NPR logo Retired Gen. Hayden Compares U.S. ISIS Strategy To 'Casual Sex'

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Retired Gen. Hayden Compares U.S. ISIS Strategy To 'Casual Sex'

CIA Director Michael Hayden gestures during a news conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Jan. 15, 2009. Luis Alvarez/AP hide caption

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Luis Alvarez/AP

CIA Director Michael Hayden gestures during a news conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Jan. 15, 2009.

Luis Alvarez/AP

Who says articles about foreign policy have to be boring? In a piece weighing the new, broadened U.S. strategy against the Islamic State, US News & World Report used this this quote from retired Airforce Gen. Michael Hayden:

"The reliance on air power has all of the attraction of casual sex: It seems to offer gratification but with very little commitment. We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone."

Of course Twitter filled up with clever remarks — "practice safe airstrike" — and Hayden went on CNN to explain himself.

The background is that in his speech to the nation, Obama announced the United States was going on the offensive against the militant Sunni group. But Obama and his administration have insisted that no matter what, they will not deploy boots on the ground.

Hayden, who also served as the NSA and CIA chief, said he thought in this situation airstrikes are the way to go. But completely ruling out ground troops, he said, is the wrong thing to do, because it sends a message to allies that the United States is not committed. Or in his original metaphor — that they are in it just for the casual sex.

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"People don't question American power," Hayden told CNN. "What people need to be convinced of is American will."