"We show this lack of resolve, talking about the war being over," said South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham who thinks Obama is sending a message of weakness at a time when terrorists have stepped up their plots against us at home and abroad.
"What do you think the Iranians are thinking? At the end of the day, this is the most tone-deaf president I ever could imagine," Graham said.
Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn was similarly troubled by the president's remarks in the wake of a wave of deadly terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, as well as the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon that killed and injured more than 260 people.
"I see a big difference between the president saying the war's at an end and whether or not you've won the war," Coburn said. "We can claim that it's at an end, but this war's going to continue. And we have still tremendous threats out there, that are building, not declining, building, and to not recognize that, I think, is dangerous in the long run and dangerous for the world."
Yet Obama went to greatly exaggerated lengths in his address that "the Afghan war is coming to an end" and that "Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self."
There was a disturbing tone of "not to worry" sprinkled throughout Obama's speech. At one point he said that "not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States."
Is that what he thinks these terrorist cells are? Merely toothless, benign, street thugs who cannot harm us or our allies?
And then there was this troubling passage in Obama's speech:
"Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight."
No sooner did Obama take the reins of the presidency than he stopped using the Bush administration's "war on terrorism” designation. But redefining the words and terms of war is not an effective strategy to defeat terrorism. We are in a long twilight struggle against Islamist extremists and it's not going to go away anytime soon.
And what are we to make of Obama's efforts to shift the CIA's drone program out of the shadows of covert operations and return it back to the Pentagon?
"You have to go into this with some concern," a former senior U.S. counterrorism official told the Washington Post about the administration's plan. "It didn't work before. Will it work this time?"
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, voiced similar doubts earlier this year when she learned of the changes being considered.
Feinstein maintained the CIA had exercised "patience and discretion specifically to prevent collateral damage," adding that she "would really have to be convinced that the military would carry it out that well."
Twelve years ago, Congress enacted the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) powers to combat terrorism. Now, Obama, eager to declare victory, wants Congress "to refine, and ultimately repeal"
AUMF's mandate, vowing, "I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further."
More cautious, grown-up minds believe it is dangerously premature to talk about winding down a war against the very real threat that terrorism still poses to our freedoms and our way of life.
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