Obama says war on terror 'must end'
Most of the attention paid to the president's counterterrorsm speech yesterday was with the change in his policy of when to use drones and his insistence that the Guantanamo Bay prison be dismantled.
But the overall tenor and tone of the speech was a direct slap in the face to his predecessor and a rap on the knuckles to current Republicans who don't believe this is the time to go soft on Islamic extremism.
In other words, the speech was highly partisan and had more to do with domestic politics - protecting his left flank while criticizing Republian hawks - than with any policy shift on terrorism.
He acknowledged the past use of "torture" in U.S. interrogations; expressed remorse over civilian casualties from drone strikes; and said that the Guantanamo detention facility "has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law."
After launching costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is tiring of conflict. While combating terrorism is still a high priority for the White House, polls show by large margins that Americans' main concerns are the economy and domestic concerns such as healthcare.
"We have now been at war for well over a decade," Obama said near the start of his address. Toward the end, he added: "But this war, like all wars, must end."
So if the war must end, who won? This is bizarre and recalls the efforts of the new Communist government in Russia who began to negotiate an end to the war with Germany in 1917.
The Germans wanted a lot of Russian territory and war reparations. The Communists were as naive as Obama and didn't want to pay such a stiff price for a war they felt they didn't start. So the Commies unilaterally declared that the war was over and began to withdraw its troops from the front.
The Germans were shocked - and absolutely delighted. They simply ordered their troops forward and the German army advanced hundreds of miles before the chastened Communists returned to the negotiating table and gave the Germans just about everything they wanted.
With the president's declaration that the US isn't going to fight a war anymore, what effect do you think that will have on the terrorists overseas? Al-Qaeda declared war on the US 15 years ago while other terrorist groups followed suit. When one side wants to continue fighting and the other virtually surrenders, how can you judge the outcome of the war any other way except the US has lost?
Though aimed first at a domestic audience, Obama's speech at Washington's National Defense University was also the latest milestone in his campaign to reshape the global image of the United States - particularly in the Islamic world.
He's "reshaping" America's image, alright. And there is little doubt that the Islamic world will take note of the weakness that Obama is projecting.
"Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless 'global war on terror' - but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America," Obama said.
Pakistan said it appreciated Obama's acknowledgement that force alone did not work, adding that the root causes of terrorism had to be addressed.
"On the use of drone strikes, the government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that the drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
No doubt police raids on suspected terrorist cells are necessary. But Pakistan, who knowingly harbors terrorists who ache to kill Americans should be the last nation on earth talking about violating "international law."
There are places on this planet where terrorists will be able to operate with impunity - free to secretly plan their attacks on America without worrying about either their host country or the United States. We will, as in the manner of police, arrest the perpetrators - after they have engaged in a mass casualty attack on the US.
And that's fine - we can live with that say Obama and his supporters. Of course, they don't mind the deaths of Americans very much because it probably won't be them doing the dying. So we will pretend that 9/11 was just a bad dream or worse - an overreaction to the death of 3,000 citizens.
This is the mindset of Obama's and his supporters. We can absorb a 9/11 every week and still not have to worry about terrorism being an "existential" threat to our survival. Because they can't kill us all, we should undo the "overreaction" to 9/11 and go back to coddling terrorists and those who would do us harm.
There is not a military solution in every aspect of the war on terror. But there should be a military option. And Obama is taking that a way in the name of making the US more "popular" with Muslim states.
Good luck with that.