President Obama Seeks To Recast, Reset War On Terror
In an hour-long address, President Obama announced several new, individual policies – limiting the use of drones, moving to close down Guantanamo Bay prison – but it was his declaration of an end to the “perpetual war” that was most remarkable.
“We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us,” declared Obama.
CNN foreign policy analyst Peter Bergen supports this shift, which he says is necessary because the al-Qaeda organization is largely decimated.
“On Thursday, Obama asserted (in my view, correctly) that what remains of the terrorist threat, while significant and persistent, is nothing on the scale of the al Qaeda organization that launched the 9/11 operation and instead consists of ‘less capable al Qaeda affiliates, threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad, homegrown extremists.'”
“These threats, the president further asserted, can be managed by carefully targeted drone strikes overseas and efforts to counter extremist ideology at home and do not require some kind of broader war,” contends Bergen.
The End Of The War On Terror, But Only As We Know It
President Obama’s speech was not a declaration that the war on terror has ended, but rather it was a statement that the war on terror as we know it has ended. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon clarifies this point in an article in The Atlantic.
“The question seems to come down to the definition of war and how broadly and widely you apply it. By the president’s own reckoning, there does not seem to be an end of war up ahead, but rather a shrinking, a targeting and a restructuring of it,’ she writes.
Recasting Seen By Some As Too Hopeful
Brian Slattery of the Heritage Foundation was less embracing of Obama’s recasting and argues that al-Qaeda affiliates and other terror groups have moved to fill the gap.
“Today, President Obama acknowledged the myriad terrorist threats around the world during his remarks at the National Defense University. Yet his description was much rosier than reality: ‘Today, the core of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat.’
“That point is debatable by itself, but it more importantly glosses over the numerous affiliated terrorist groups that have risen to fill the void in the Middle East and Northern Africa—groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani network, and Boko Haram,” he argues.
Terror Groups Target Military Installations In Britain And Niger
The reality of the continuous threat posed by terrorists was evident this week. A day after the brutal attack on a soldier in Woolwich, as many as 26 people were killed when two bombs exploded near military installations in Niger. Both attacks were claimed by a spinoff of al-Qaida, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) in retaliation for the French-led military intervention in Mali.