On 2015-12-06 President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office on his top priority as President: Keeping the American people safe.
And he said: "We [the USA] will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us [the American People]".
Can he succeed, and if yes, then how?
Below is the full address with our comments:
|Response to President Obama's Presidential Address on Destroying IS|
|No.||President Obama||Our Comments|
|1||It weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of all of us in the wake of the terrible tragedy in San Bernardino. Fourteen Americans -- dads, moms, daughters, sons -- were taken from us as they came together to celebrate the holidays. Each of them a public servant. All of them a part of our American family.|
More than a million "dads, moms, daughters, sons" died around the world as a result of the US War-on-Terror.
|2||The FBI is still gathering the facts about what happened in San Bernardino, but here is what we know. We have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home. But it is clear that these killers had embraced a perversion of Islam, stockpiled assault weapons, and committed an act of terrorism.|
The US and European media and politicians seek to explain acts of "terrorism" by the terrorists "embracing a perversion of Islam". But a closer examination of such cases reveals that the reason such acts are committed in the "west" is due not to "embracing a religion", but to a reaction to the "world events" as depicted by the "western media".
On the same day a man lashed out at passengers with a knife in the London Underground (UK), shouting "This is for Syria!". He was clearly motivated in his act by the British bombings of Syria, rather than by any "religious beliefs".
Motivations in such cases are usually sympathy, solidarity, or identification with a group involved in a conflict rather than "embracing a religion".
|3||Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Since then, we've hardened our defenses. Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots and worked around the clock to keep us safe. Our military and counter-terrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas -- disrupting safe havens, killing Osama bin Laden, and decimating al Qaeda's leadership.|
After the killing of some 3,000 Americans on 9/11, the US started wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.
Iraq had no connection with either 9/11 or "terrorism".
Both the wars were crimes of "wars of aggression" (crimes against peace) committed by the USA and their allies.
Neither of the wars had put an end to "terrorism", but had lead to destruction of countries, deaths of over a million of people around the world, increase in terrorism, and the emergence of IS, which Obama blames for the "terrible tragedy in San Bernardino".
|4||But over the last few years, the threat has evolved as terrorists have turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all-too common in our society.For the past seven years, I have confronted the evolution of this threat each morning. Your security is my greatest responsibility. And I know that, after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.|
The rise in violence "over the last few years" is the direct result of the US War-on-Terror that has been in progress since 2001.
And while the "War-on-Terror" was started by the previous administration, President Obama has not succeeded to restore peace and stability destroyed by that "war".
The "cancer", the symptom of which is the present global violence, is nothing else than the "American Foreign Policy" which President Obama had inherited from the previous administrations, and which he had failed to "cure".
|5||So, tonight, this is what I want you to know: The threat of terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Here's how:|
The "threat of terrorism was real" all along, and the "War-on-Terror" was intended to put an end to it. But all it did was to increase it and to make it more difficult to put an end to it.
So, let us see, if President Obama's "new prescription" is more likely to cure the "cancer" than the one of the Bush administration.
|6||First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary, using air strikes to take out ISIL leaders and their infrastructure in Iraq and Syria. And since the attacks in Paris, our closest allies - France, Germany, and the United Kingdom - have ramped up their contributions to our military campaign, which will help us accelerate our effort to destroy ISIL.|
Hunting down "terrorist plotters"?
Have not the US and the "closest allies" been doing it for the past nearly 15 years?
And have they not even "killed Osama bin Laden"?
Has it "stopped terror"?
And, even if the US and allies had succeeded to "destroy ISIL" (by killing all of them?), would it stop "tragedies" like the ones in San Bernardino, Paris, or London?
|7||Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens. In both countries, we are deploying Special Operations forces who can accelerate that offensive.|
The US had been providing training and equipment to foreign groups, so as to effect "regime-changes" in foreign countries.
Had not the US trained Ahmed Chalabi's "Freedom Fighters for Iraq" before the US invasion of Iraq?
And have not the US been supporting some anti-government groups in Syria?
And have not these effected or attempted "regime-changes" created all the chaos and instability in the Middle East, which in its turn has inspired the "tragedies" like the ones in San Bernardino, Paris, or London?
|8||Third, we are leading a coalition of 65 countries to stop ISIL's operations by disrupting plots, cutting off their financing, and preventing them from recruiting more fighters.|
As President Obama stated in (2) above, there is "no evidence that the killers [in San Bernardino] were directed by a terrorist organization overseas".
So, the "recruiting power" of IS (and others) is not IS propaganda, but the War-on-Terror itself, even as it is presented by the "western" media.
|9||Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has established a process and timeline to pursue cease-fires and a political resolution to the Syrian civil war. Doing so will allow the Syrian people and every country to focus on the common goal of destroying ISIL.|
The Syrian "civil war" was engineered in the "west".
Talks of a "regime-change" in Syria could be heard in the "west" long before the "civil-war" started.
Then followed a western media vilification campaign against the Syrian Government, encouraging anti-government protests.
Then there began talks of "weaponizing" the Syrian opposition.
And as the "weaponized opposition" grew into a full-scale war, it is this "civil-war" that has lead to the emergence of ISIL (IS) - a state with undefined frontiers controlling parts of Syria and Iraq. And it is this IS, created by the US political intrigues and military involvements, that President Obama wants now to "destroy".
|10||That is our strategy -- designed and supported by military commanders, counter-terrorism experts, and countries committed to defeating these terrorists. And we constantly examine further steps needed to get the job done. That is why I have ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country. And that is why I will urge high tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.|
Yes, the US War-on-Terror has greatly increased US government activities aimed at preventing terrorism inside the US.
But this has not prevented acts of terrorism inspired by the US War-on-Terror, like "San Bernardino" and others.
|11||Here at home, we can do more together to immediately address this challenge.|
The establishment of Homeland Security and other domestic "anti-terror" measures have been "addressing this challenge" from the start of the War-on-Terror.
|12||To start, Congress should act to make sure that no one on a No Fly List is able to buy a gun. What possible argument can be made for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measure, but no matter how effective our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, we cannot identify every would-be mass shooter. What we can do, and must do, is make it harder for them to kill.|
Most of the terror attacks in the US did not involve guns, not even the 9/11.
Although the ease with which guns can be obtained in the US has been the cause of many "non-terrorist related tragedies".
It is an issue in its own right, mostly in connection with common crimes.
|13||Next, we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa so that we can know if they've traveled to war zones. And finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, then it should vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists.|
Screening at airports have been in operation in the US ever since the start of the War-on-Terror.
|14||This is what we should do. But I'd like to also say a word about what we should not do.|
Not to invade other countries without a valid reason?
Not to engineer "regime-changes" in other countries?
|15||We should not be drawn once again into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That's what groups like ISIL want. We also cannot turn against one another by letting this fight become a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, and account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world who reject their hateful ideology.|
The US ground wars were very costly indeed - some 9,000 US military and civilians were killed in the War-on-Terror wars.
It was this consideration that prompted President Obama to reduce the scale of the military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to resort to use of drones and aerial bombardments.
This practice was followed by the US allies, as well.
And, as the US War-on-Terror was directed against countries with Muslim majority populations, the War-on-Terror was seen by many in the Middle East as a "war against Islam". And anti-Muslim sentiments resulting out of "terrorist" acts in the USA and Europe and their exploitation by some "western" politicians and the media still further confirmed this view.
And, yes, the appeal of IS to some Muslims in the US and Europe is based on the view of the US War-on-Terror as a "US war against Islam".
And the number of Muslims from the USA and Europe who joined IS is indeed "a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world".
This tiny fraction, however, is sufficient to maintain a low, but steady, level of terror attacks around the world. And it is capable of growing or diminishing, depending on the general world situation.
|16||If we are to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist Muslim communities as our strongest allies in rooting out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization. It is the responsibility of all Americans -- of every faith -- to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It is our responsibility to reject language that encourages suspicion or hate. Because that kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values, plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. We have to remember that.|
The "western" politicians and media have concentrated on the "war against IS", but IS is not the only source of violence and instability in today's world.
The stated aim of the US War-on-Terror was to "defeat terrorism", but the invasion of Iraq, which had no involvement in anti-US terrorism, and the way this War-on-Terror was conducted, and the "western" rhetoric surrounding it, did create among many Muslims around the world a view that it is a war by the "west" (US, EU, Israel) against Islam. And this has resulted in a growth of support of existing organizations, like al-Qaida, and emergence of new ones - like ISIL (now IS).
The attraction of these organizations is not "religious zeal", but their willingness and ability to strike against the "enemy of Muslims (as a group)". It is the "you are either with us or with the terrorists" of G.W. Bush, but reversed. They were not with G.W. Bush, they were with the "terrorists" (i.e., according to them, "Muslim hero fighters") and proud of it.
And when ISIL had succeeded to take control of parts of Syria and Iraq and to proclaim a state, the effect of such proclamation on those Muslims who saw themselves under attack by the "west" was similar to the effect that establishment of the State of Israel had on many Jews around the world: "Now we have a state of our own".
IS is not the cause of "Islamic terrorism" - it has grown out of it as a result of the US War-on-Terror.
And, because IS is not the cause of "terrorism", destroying it will not end terrorism. In the same way as the killing of Osama bin Laden did not end terrorism.
And, yes, any acts or words by governments or citizens of the US against Muslims in general, as a group, do lead to some individuals resorting to terrorist acts or to joining "terrorist organizations".
|17||I am confident America will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. Even as we debate our differences, let's make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional: We were founded upon a belief in human dignity -- the idea that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law.|
Beliefs and ideals are seldom matched by behavior based upon them.
The "right side of history"?
Unjustified wars of aggression, like the invasion of Iraq?
Regime-changes, like in Libya and Syria?
And have the US policies been based on "equality in the eyes of the law" with respect to other countries and people?
The root causes of anti-US terrorism are not in "perversion of Islam", but in the failure of the US governments to live up to their professed ideals and beliefs.
They use these beliefs as political slogans to justify wars of aggression and other hostile acts towards people of other countries. And this is what leads to terrorist response.
Let's not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear. That we have always met challenges -- whether war or depression; natural disasters or terrorist attacks -- by coming together around our common ideals. As long as we stay true to who we are, then I have no doubt that America will prevail.
President Barack Obama
As we stated above (17), "ideals are seldom matched by behavior based upon them".
And, if President Obama intends to "prevail" by continuing bombing of Syria and Iraq, he shall succeed in killing more Syrians and Iraqis. But this will not stop "terrorism".
So, what should he do to prevail in his desire to "stop terror"?
Luckily for him, he does have such possibility, and IS is the key to solving this problem.
IS is not just another terrorist organization - it is state in the making. It controls substantial territory in Iraq and Syria and it seeks to administer it as a state. And once "terrorist organisations" become "governments of recognized states", they cease to be "terrorists", and they turn towards administering and preserving their states.
From "revolutionaries" they become "conservatives" - they want to preserve their state - the fruit of their "revolution".
The 20th century had many examples of terrorist groups becoming governments of states. And once the statehood was achieved, terrorism stopped.
The only things that prevents IS from becoming a fully-fledged state is "established frontiers" and "international recognition". Once the frontiers of IS are established and internationally recognized, they will become a real state, and instead of responding to the "western" bombings with acts of terror, they will proceed with their state-building operations, and the "west" should help them in their effort to rebuild the area under their control, so that it would become a stable fully-functioning state.
Of course, this will only stop IS-related terrorism. To stop all terrorism the US need to resolve the Palestinian issue, and any other "conflicts", and move from wanton belligerence, which has characterized the US foreign policy up to now, towards establishment and maintenance of International Law based on the Principles of the UN Charter.
This will be the way for America to "prevail" and to live up to its ideals.