Perhaps the most shocking — and depressing — aspect of the president’s speech on Thursday was his inability to grasp the nature and extent of the threat facing America and the west from Islamic extremism.
What possessed this president to declare an end to the war on terror? Does he actually believe that a unilateral declaration that he is taking America back to a pre/911 mindset lessen the threat, or have any effect on the terrorists who do little all day except plot, and plan, and wish, and fantasize about killing as many of us as their warped minds can imagine?
Many liberals believe a statement like that is an over exaggeration and demonstrates that I am living in fear of being attacked. In his speech, Obama accused his opponents of being cowards:
But what we can do — what we must do — is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us, and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend. And to define that strategy, we have to make decisions based not on fear, but on hard-earned wisdom. That begins with understanding the current threat that we face.
Since when did prudence become “fear”? Since when did harboring a healthy respect for the threats we face become fear?
I’m surprised few others picked up on this insult that the president delivered to those who think different from him. But then, he was only articulating a long-standing liberal narrative about conservatives and the war on terror. The right has overreacted to a few ignorant savages living in caves. Conservatives are bedwetters, hand wringers, are terrified of terrorism.
Of course by implication, if conservatives are cowards for “overreacting” to the threat of terrorism, those who don’t, are, by definition, courageous. How much courage it takes to declare a war over that you never believed in and thought the threat was oversold for political reasons?
Now that we have rid ourselves of the notion that we have to “make decisions based” on fear, we can safely return to those days before 9/11 when terrorism was a nuisance.
Obama is not claiming final victory over extremists who still seek to kill Americans and other Westerners. Instead, he is refocusing the long struggle against terrorism that lies ahead, steering the United States away from what he calls an equally frightening threat — a country in a state of perpetual war. In doing so, Obama recasts the image of the terrorists themselves, from enemy warriors to cowardly thugs and resets the relationship between the U.S. and Islam.
His speech Thursday was designed to move America’s mindset away from a war footing and refine and recalibrate his own counterterrorism strategy. Obama asserted that al-Qaida is “on the path to defeat,” reducing the scale of terrorism to pre-Sept. 11 levels. That means that with the Afghanistan war winding down, Obama is unlikely to commit troops in large numbers to any conflict — in Syria or other countries struggling with instability in the uncertain aftermath of the Arab Spring — unless, as his critics fear, he tragically has underestimated al-Qaida’s staying power.
“Wishing the defeat of terrorists does not make it so,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
In Thornberry’s view, Obama is pushing the idea that “we can simply declare al-Qaida beaten and go back to the pre-9/11 era.”
From the beginning of his presidency, Obama’s centerpiece of his national security strategy has been a desire to move beyond the wars he inherited in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in the shadowy spaces occupied by al-Qaida and its offshoots now creeping up in North Africa and elsewhere.
Those endeavors consumed enormous amounts of his administration’s time and attention during his first term, not to mention the incalculable costs paid by military members and their families.
“This war, like all wars, must end,” he said. “That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”
History advises that when a war ends you have a winner and a loser. Since the president didn’t declare the US a winner, one must assume he sees us as the loser. And all our democracy “demands” is that we survive. Sooner than we think — whether through their own devices or through a third party — a terrorist group with the means and opportunity will detonate a nuclear device on American soil. If Obama thinks we overreacted to 9/11 by curtailing liberty, wait until a nuke smokes an American city. He ain’t seen nothing yet.
The president is tired of war fighting. Perhaps he should have thought twice about running for office if he felt he couldn’t do what was necessary to protect us. Not every threatening situation demands we send in the Marines. But what is the world going to look like 5 years from now? Will Iraq be a failed state? Will Syria even exist? Will parts of Yemen by part of the new al-Qaeda caliphate? Will Libya welcome Sunni terrorists? Will North Africa become a terrorist haven?
You don’t send the FBI to Somalia to arrest terrorists. And it is highly unlikely that the state department is going to make much headway getting weak governments to track down terrorist groups in potential failed states like Syria or Iraq. By unthinkingly eschew the military option because it’s too much work for him, the president has placed the US in a bind. From now on, it’s back to the future as we will be sure to arrest terrorists wherever we find them — after they have murdered dozens, hundreds, or thousands of our citizens.
This is what we did prior to 9/11. How’d that work out for us?