Speaking to the nation from the Oval Office on Sunday evening, only the third such address of his term, President Obama spoke broadly and urged caution in the war on terror, advocated for more gun control laws, preached tolerance and ruled out a large contingent of ground troops in Syria.
While the president did not outline any new overall anti-ISIS strategy or articulate a fresh individual measure to combat ISIS terror, he spent a majority of his presentation attempting to explain the effectiveness of his administration’s current plan to destroy ISIS.
“Well, here’s what I want you to know. The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless. And by drawing upon every aspect of American power.”
“Here’s how. First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary. In Iraq and Syria, air strikes are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure.”
“Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens.
“Third, we’re working with friends and allies to stop ISIL’s operations, to disrupt plots, cut off their financing, and prevent them from recruiting more fighters.”
“Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has begun to establish a process and timeline to pursue cease-fires and a political resolution to the Syrian war.”
Arguing the role of American ground troops as counterproductive and contributing to the swelling of ISIS’ ranks, the president averred:
“We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops and draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.”
The president immediately returned to the home front and appealed for stronger gun-control measures by linking the San Bernardino attack to gun violence.
Asking: “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon?” Mr. Obama continued:
“I know there are some who reject any gun-safety measures, but the fact is that our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, no matter how effective they are, cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual was motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do, and must do, is make it harder for them to kill.”
Concluding with a passionate appeal for Americans not to turn on others with cold savagery, the president stated:
“Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.”
Playing catch up, the president offered little other than being his typical long-winded self and used 13 minutes of America’s time to reboot his long-standing disapproval of firearms in front of a national audience.
While the president did rightly mention the urgency to avoid incriminating America’s Muslim population for the San Bernardino terror attack, he failed to offer a resolute defense of American Jews, the victims of a staggering 59 percent of all hate crimes perpetrated against person or property.
Virtually every word the president uttered Sunday evening had been aired before; however, one gained the strange sense Mr. Obama lacked energy in his delivery as he re-emphasized the ineffective measures against ISIS and attempted to coax his viewership into assuming he and his staff are in control of the situation.
Other than mechanically going through the motions, as if he had actually been forced to address his anxious audience, Mr. Obama offered nothing new and did nothing to calm legitimate fears.
What Americans had hoped for was a man who believed in what he was saying.
What America was presented with was Mr. Obama peddling stale, ineffective formulations and appearing tired, a leader undone by his errors and wanting his second term to expire.
The speech will be forgotten at once.
[The Guardian] [Forward.com] [RT News] [Photo courtesy AP/Susan Walsh]