Between the IRS, Benghazi, AP & Fox scandals, it is safe to surmise that the Obama administration felt that it had lost control of the media cycle. So it is no surprise that team Obama would make a highly touted, short notice speech on _____________ (insert non-scandal related topic here). In this case, they opted to make the topic "counterterrorism." The underlying theme was "LOOK, A SQUIRREL." You can read the speech here.
There was virtually nothing new in this speech beyond the gloss. Obama used a lot of words to cover ground he has covered before - for example, close Guantanamo, how to authorize drone strikes, treating counterterrorism as a legal matter rather than one of war, change the AUMF, and foreign aid for unfriendly governments.
The most troubling part of the speech was when Obama restated his intent to unilaterally end the "War on Terror." We may of course end our side of it, but somehow I doubt that al Qaeda or Iran will respond in kind. Obama asked for Congress to withdraw the Authorization For Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9-11, both on grounds that it was no longer necessary and because, he intimated, future governments could not be trusted with such an open ended authorization.
What Obama succeeded in doing in his speech was to highlight just how utterly naive and dangerous his foreign policy truly is. Obama ignored Iran and the nuclear threat it poses. He ignored all of the dangers of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. He almost wholly ignored the role of al Qaeda in Syria and how the Syrian civil war is destabilizing the entire Middle East. He almost wholly ignored the extensive gains by al Qaeda across North Africa - including in Libya and Benghazi, as well as ignoring the attack on our diplomats in Benghazi but for an embrace of the Accountability Review Board recommendations.
After jaw droppingly asserting that we now face only the same dangers as we faced pre 9-11, Obama explained the threat as: ,
Most, though not all, of the terrorism we faced is fueled by a common ideology -- a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam. And this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, who are the most frequent victims of terrorist attacks.
If you were to drill down to the single greatest problem with Obama's foreign policy, it is shown in the above paragraph. The terrorism we face is not "fueled by a common ideology," it is fueled by a common strand of a religion - Wahhabi Salafi Islam. It is not "rejected" by the "vast majority of Muslims," it is the mainstream of teaching coming out of Saudi Arabia and Saudi influenced mosques and madrassas around the world. Indeed, it is an interpretation of Islam that is spreading around the world, overtaking all other forms of Islam. Bottom line, so long as Obama and the left around the world try to whitewash Islam - and in particular, Wahhabism - and shield it from sunlight and responsibility, we will hemorrhage blood and gold dealing with the threat.
One other issue of note was Obama's attempt to deflect blame on the AP and Fox investigation scandals by calling for a media shield law to protect journalists. In other words, 'stop me before I do it again.
So this was Obama's attempt to reset the media narrative. Its effect won't last, but that won't be because the far left in the media fail to talk up this ridiculous speech as something substantive rather than the bit of refried misdirection that it actually is. The NYT editorial board is a case in point. It claims to be in thrall with the Obama speech, and in particular, his decision to unilaterally end war:
President Obama’s speech on Thursday was the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America. For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future.
If this were not so deadly serious, one would have to laugh at this bit of insanity. It is the NYT cheering a modern day Kellogg-Briand Pact, the 1928 declaration outlawing war and signed by, among others Germany, Italy, Japan and the Soviet Union.
Update: MSNBC joins the NYT in labeling Obama's speech as "historic." One wonders whether between the NYT and MSNBC there is an ounce of intellectual honesty.
Update: Andrew McCarthy at NRO makes precisely the same points I raised above about Obama's speech. Michael Ledeen at PJM is left bewildered that Obama could make a speech on counterterrorism and not mention the world's biggest source of terrorism, Iran.