Can Obama End the War on Terror?

It's not solely up to him, and it won't be easy.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Larry Downing / REUTERS

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a point at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., on May 23, 2013.

In his broad address on drone strikes, al Qaeda terrorists, and the prison at Guantanamo Bay Thursday, Barack Obama wrestled with some of the hardest moral questions that have defined national security policy since September 11: Who is the enemy? Who can we kill, and where, and how? What to do with suspected terrorists we hold in captivity? And when, if ever, will this war as we know it end? Along the way, Obama issued a strong defense of his reliance on drones to kill suspected terrorists in places where other military means are infeasible or risk more civilian deaths. He announced higher standards for drone strikes, limiting them to situations where the confidence about a target’s location is extremely high and the possibility of civilian casualties is virtually nil. He reiterated his belief that the Guantanamo prison is a stain on America’s honor and image around the world and should be closed, and vowed new action to make that long-delayed goal a reality.

(VIDEO: Obama Press Conference April 30, 2013)

But while Obama has an obviously sincere desire to bring the war against al Qaeda to a close and close the books on Guantanamo, however, he also lacks the power to make these things happen on his own. The future of the terror war that Obama inherited from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney depends on some very open questions:

Will Republicans Play Along? The initial GOP response to Obama’s speech was skeptical. “The theme of the speech was that this war is winding down… [but] the enemy is morphing and spreading, there are more theaters of conflict today than in several years,” said GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “The President’s speech today will be viewed by terrorists as a victory,” declared Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.

Some of Obama’s plans require no Republican sign-off—he can change the rules governing drone strikes, for instance, by presidential directive. And he can transfer the dozens of Yemeni detainees at the camp who have been cleared for release back to their home country on his own. But fully shuttering Gitmo will require him to win Congress’s permission to move dozens of the camp’s 166 inmates from Cuba into the U.S., something now barred by law. At the moment, some Republicans seem no more interested in helping him than they did when Obama first proposed this idea in 2009. “GITMO must stay open for business,” Chambliss said Thursday. Others are more amenable, though still skeptical: House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, who would play a lead role in any Congressional action, calls himself  “open to a proposal from the president, but that plan has to consist of more than political talking points.”

(MORE: President Obama Sides With His Guantanamo Bay Protesters)

Obama also said that he wants Congress to revisit the Authorization for Use of Military Force, the law it passed a few days after the September 11 attacks authorizing the broad use of force to fight al Qaeda and its allies; the president suggested he might like to see the law repealed eventually. Many Republicans like it just fine, and would oppose efforts to limit its scope.

Will al Qaeda Regain its Strength? Obama’s speech described a more limited al Qaeda threat that the kind of mass-casualty attack within America that changed history on September 11, 2001. He described al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan as decimated, and said that small-scale attacks from domestic radicals, like the Tsnaraev brothers, or attacks on American targets abroad, like the U.S. compound at Benghazi, are the likely new norm. There’s no question that those threats are real. But intelligence officials say that at least one al Qaeda affiliate—the group’s Yemen branch—still poses a dangerous threat to the United States. And although al Qaeda may be on the run in some places, it is also gaining strength in others, like northern Africa, Iraq, and Syria, where the prospect of al Qaeda-affiliated radicals acquiring chemical weapons is real. On Thursday an administration official noted in a briefing for reporters that unrest of the Arab Spring has allowed anti-American radicals to “gain a foothold” in new places. It’s possible that self-proclaimed al Qaeda terrorists in those areas will maintain regional ambitions. But it’s also possible they will renew their efforts to strike at America, perhaps compelling Obama to step up his use of drones.

(MORE: What if al Qaeda Gets Syrian Chemical Weapons?)

Is Closing Guantanamo Good Enough? There are two major cases against Guantanamo. The first is that the camp itself damages our national security by inspiring anti-American sentiment and serving as a rallying cry for jihadists. By this thinking, shutting down the facility is a huge breakthrough. And it may be.

But there’s another other critique. This one holds that Guantanamo itself isn’t the problem. It’s the policy behind it: indefinite detention. Obama’s plan would send some Guantanamo detainees back to their home in Yemen, and possibly to some other countries, and try others in the criminal and military justice systems on U.S. soil. But even Obama’s plan would leave nearly 50 prisoners in a state of indefinite detention. These are prisoners who probably can never be charged in court, either because the evidence against them is tainted by the use of torture, or because the government is convinced they are dangerous but does not have specific charges to mount against them. On this question, Obama essentially punted: “[O]nce we commit to a process of closing GTMO, I am confident that this legacy problem can be resolved, consistent with our commitment to the rule of law,” he said.

“[H]istory will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it,” Obama went on to say. But he has not offered a clear plan for what to do with these prisoners who apparently cannot be tried. One thing he does not seem prepared to do is simply release them. America may have damaged al Qaeda enough that Barack Obama can talk about a day when the war against the disciples of Osama bin Laden will be over. But that day has not yet arrived. And until it does, Obama may have to live with some unpleasant moral compromises.

Cover Story: Homeland Insecurity: After Boston, The Struggle Between Liberty and Security

71 comments
surething1050
surething1050

Anything Obama wants to end probably does not need ending. He seems to work against mostly good things.

azmalhome
azmalhome


Some countries regionally are turmoil recently, they’re making burning with each other by taking the weapon from developing countries. They’re so busy to increasing the turmoil for getting something newly, Because of some richest leaders is helping freedom fighters monopoly to doing a good trade after terminating the war.

http://azmalhome.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/islamic-terrorism/




valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

TO MANTIS....

FOR F FOR  A MONKEY WHO DOES NOT KNOW ME......YOU ARE TOO PREMATURE.....AS THE ZEN MASTER SAID......

             WE SHALL SEE.....

boomacboom
boomacboom

Watching Obama is like watching a 10 year old playing driver in daddy's car.  He makes all the vroom vroom noises,  twists the steering wheel left and right, he goes thru the gears.  Having a lot of fun going no where while he calls out all the sights.  The guy is a pretender and an impostor.  He doesn't know anything about this country, how to run it, how to make it thrive.  He promised a new day or something with respect to our relations with the world.  It is worse than ever.  The various agencies seem to be toys for him to make mischief with.  His history is piss poor as a state senator, a US Senator and certainly as our president.  Damn the day he learned the power of the teleprompter and how gullible we all are.  Vroom vroom...here he comes....aint he cute.

OKOrlando
OKOrlando

Can Obama end the war on terror? There is one simple answer to this: Yes. He is the Commander in Chief and if he calls for the troops to come home, then they will.

ahandout
ahandout

Crowley, why didn't you just ask:  Can Obama fly?  Or, Is Obama really the messiah?

Delusional.

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

Unfortunately......we have a President.....who is a moslem......he has armed the moslems who are enemies of the United States with billions of dollars in cash.....and munitions.....like the MOslem Brotherhood of Egypt.......caused our repentant ally MOamar Khaddafy to beviolently killed .....OBAMA IS THE JOKER IN THE PACK....THE 5TH COLUMNIST FROM THE INSIDE WHO IS DESTROYING AMERICA !!!

Valentine, comedian, lol.............

terryclifton1
terryclifton1

As long as there is religion on this planet, there will be terrorism. No president, not anyone can stop the ignorance of someone who is willing to kill and die for his/her religion. Obama can close Gitmo, stop the drone attacks, pull out of Afghanistan and The Middle East all together, and it wouldn't matter squat to those who seek to force their religion down our throats, be it by the sword or not. It doesn't matter how nice we are, how much aid and comfort we give to others, if they hate us, they are capable of killing us...Wake up from your utopian wet dream, Mr. Crowley and join the rest of us living in reality. You can never reason with a fanatic... 

petersen
petersen

Once again, Republicans have demonstrated that they have no clue about some of the most important issues facing America today, and prefer to remain cocooned in their little world of ideological make-believe and lob rhetorical grenades at their favorite political targets. The entire leadership structure of al Qaeda -- most notably Osama himself -- has been wiped out by this president. I'd hardly define that as a "victory" for "terrorists." What risks there are come from our reckless and overreaching policy on drones, with strikes that are likely creating new terrorists every day. The GOP lacks any basic understanding of reality.    -  progress

billorights
billorights

To understand Mr. Obama is to understand the dialectic wrapped around all of his words and actions. The President says we're defeating al quaeda and terrorism, yet the evidence suggests otherwise.

Now he wants to shift the war on terrorism to fighting the alleged hordes of domestic terrorists. Problem is, Mr. Obama has a different idea about who the terrorists are...

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/2577-new-dhs-domestic-terrorism-report-targets-millions-of-americans

As for the AUMF?

Look what the other hand is doing!

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-12/html/2013-07802.htm


By the way, how often do the hecklers have credentialed press passes?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/05/24/obama-medea-benjamin-heckler-counterterrorism-speech/2357117/

jmac
jmac

Getting the drone strikes out of the CIA is a step in the right direction.  The CIA needs to be in the business of spying, not playing GI Joe,  and the military doesn't need to be trying to spy for the CIA.  

Obama living with "unpleasant moral compromises" is a pleasant-sounding phrase as opposed to a president who's all bluster and has a skewed moral compass.   

jackdeelee
jackdeelee

Once again the President plays the times amazingly well, five years ago the media was still half buying into the GOP's false narrative on the Democrats being soft on terror because they didn't want to engage in bloated distraction wars that did nothing to save American lives. Now in 2013, the press is practically (I guess in some places literally) clamoring for him to "end the war on terror," and he'll do nothing but score more political points by doing so.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

From the beginning I have thought strategic strikes against identified targets were preferred over a ground insurgency war.  The drones are accomplishing that 10 years later.  When they opened Guantanamo I thought, how stupid, what now?  Obama has been trying to remedy that since his first campaign.  

After the mess made by the Bush administration, not the least being diversion to Iraq where there was no terrorists support, Obama has refocused all of the screw-ups.  Speaking of Iraq and insurgent ground wars, it is stunning that critics find collateral damage from drone strikes to be of greater concern.  

I applaud President Obama's progress in defeating terrorism and I rue his opposition, both the terrorists and the Republicans. 

curt3rd
curt3rd

I thought Obama ended the war on terror when he was elected 5 years ago along with closing Gitmo the first day in office and solving race relations in America by doing nothing more then being elected.  Im pretty sure he did all of that right before he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

firozekabeer
firozekabeer

"Drone Attack" is a form of extra judicial killing and how long the so called champion of human rights will continue this form of inhuman killing? Allready four american citizens are killed by drones. We should not forget that every one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

absurdbuttrue
absurdbuttrue

Only Obama supporters and other idiots think this boy can do anything.

H*ll, this negro doesn't even admit there is terrorism!  What a sissy-man!


mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@terryclifton1 So out of curiosity why are they going after us as opposed to the non-Muslims in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe? Could it be because they are not occupying their countries or meddling in their affairs?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@billorights Where do you come up with this crap? When the first paragraph in the link that you posted starts with Obama bowing to the Saudi King your bias and naivety is painfully obvious. Perhaps you' care to Google "The Bin Laden Family and Bush" to see for yourself which US president the Saudis had their hooks into.

jmac
jmac

@billorights Lowenthal, former top C.I.A. official - "China isn't going to allow us to  fly drones over their country."

Maybe Obama's looking at the big picture, billo.  Something conservatives have a hard time comprehending.  

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd And what made you believe that? The war on terror will continue as long as we choose to play "World Police" and the Nobel Peace Prize was nothing more than a collective middle finger from the world to GWB and Cheney.

Ravenfeather
Ravenfeather

@absurdbuttrue ...How can anyone take you seriously, Sir... with your bigoted remark...It's all about Obama being Black...That's all you see is a "Boy" and a "Negro"... I believe policy debates are way more credible when done in a more mature manner and without the Racism or vile comments....


mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@billorights

Bush claimed we'd bring back Osama bin Laden "dead or alive."

But the more we learn about the ties between the Bush family and the bin Ladens, questions like this one pop up: Did Bush really want to capture him?

With fewer than 50 ground troops surrounding the massive Tora Bora region in the mountains of Afghanistan where bin Laden was hiding, ground commanders pleaded for 800 more soldiers, according to Gary Berntsen, the CIA field commander whose book "Jawbreaker" goes into amazing detail about the botched paramilitary operation. Bernt-

sen and other ground commanders said the U.S. let Osama bin Laden get away.

Was this because of President George Bush's close ties to the bin Laden family?

In 1978, Bush and Osama bin Laden's brother, Salem bin Laden, founded Arbusto Energy, an oil company based in Texas.

Several bin Laden family members invested millions in The Carlyle Group, a private global equity firm based in Washington, DC. The company's senior advisor was Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush. After news of the bin Laden-Bush connection became public, the elder Bush stepped down from Carlyle.

Interestingly, on Sept. 11, 2001, members of the Carlyle Group - including Bush senior, and his former secretary of state, James Baker - were meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., along with Shafiq bin Laden, another one of Osama bin Laden's brothers.

While all flights were halted following the terrorist attacks, there was one exception made: The White House authorized planes to pick up 140 Saudi nationals, including 24 members of the bin Laden family, living in various cities in the U.S. to bring them back to Saudi Arabia, where they would be safe. They were never interrogated.

Five years later, and we're still asking questions. We may have lost our innocence but we're also losing, thankfully, our ignorance.


Read more: Bush ties to bin Laden haunt grim anniversary - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/rodriguez/ci_4319898#ixzz2UEokgD00
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse
Follow us: @Denverpost on Twitter | Denverpost on Facebook

curt3rd
curt3rd

The war on terror will continue as long as we choose to play "World Police"

So, September 11 was are fault? Im so sick of every time the U.S. gets attacked by Islamic Radicals, its somehow our fault that we arent Muslims and for that desereve to die. Also, I didnt believe any of the crap about Gitmo, race relations or somehow the Muslims will start loving us because we elected a guy named Barak Hussein Obama but thats exactly what Obama and the liberal media was saying and wanted America to believe.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ahandout@mantisdragon91@terryclifton1 

In a recent Time/CNN poll, more than one-third of Americans said that since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, they have been thinking more about how current events might be leading to the end of the world.

While only 36 percent of all Americans believe that the Bible is God's Word and should be taken literally, 59 percent say they believe that events predicted in the Book of Revelation will come to pass. Almost one out of four Americans believes that 9/11 was predicted in the Bible, and nearly one in five believes that he or she will live long enough to see the end of the world. Even more significant for this study, over one-third of those Americans who support Israel report that they do so because they believe the Bible teaches that the Jews must possess their own country in the Holy Land before Jesus can return. 

 http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/End-Times/On-The-Road-To-Armageddon.aspx

ahandout
ahandout

@mantisdragon91 @ahandout @terryclifton1  So which is it?  The Christians or the Jews, or both?  And what money are you talking about?  And Israel isn't calling for the elimination of Iran; Iran is calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.  Perhaps you think that they are just lobbying Google.

You didn't answer, which sect are you?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@manlyman Are you really this dumb? Bush let Bin Laden escape into Pakistan because he was to busy moving our special forces to Iraq and he took 3 times the Vacation time to date that Obama did.

manlyman
manlyman

Bush claimed we'd bring back Osama "dead or alive", and damned if he wasn't right, thanks to enhanced interrogation and those awesome Navy SEALS! Obama played golf and vacationed, and if you think he did any more than that then you are just another of his useful idiots.

manlyman
manlyman

Liberalism is a stain on our honor as a nation!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd And yet the Radical Muslims go after the US and the UK as opposed to Poland and Sweden. Are they a different type of non Muslim? Or could it be that they are not actively meddling in their backyard?

curt3rd
curt3rd

I didnt change subjects.  I was replying to tommyudo about infrastucture topic that he brought up and I think the way I described Radical Muslims wanting  non Muslims dead  is clearer than the way you put it.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd How cute changing the topic again. Let me repeat for you yet again. When we occupy countries in the Middle East either directly or indirectly we attract the attention of people that have nothing to lose. Can I make it any clearer than that?

curt3rd
curt3rd

So 911 was a the Boogie Man that doesnt exist?  I thought Obama fixed our infrastuture with the Stimulus. You know rebuild our roads and bridges,  oh wait that went to the unions so he could secure votes.

curt3rd
curt3rd

What happen to terror will continue as long as we play World Police/

jmac
jmac

@curt3rd  "Obama promised to close it first day in office."  Congress blocked the closing of Gitmo, Curt.   Even you should know that.   Do you even bother to read the articles?  I seriously doubt it.  But you are a good representative of the conservative mind.   We appreciate your help in destroying the Republican party.   

tommyudo
tommyudo

@curt3rd 


You are an imbecile with an IQ similar to the temperature of a February day in Northern Maine.

Muslims, or for that matter, anyone,  doesn't care who or what you are.

We have a military industrial complex that thrives on conflict. There are always going to be Boogie Men to scare the peasants, and suckers like you will lap it up every time. In the meantime , our infrastructure will continue to collapse all around us, and there won't be much left of anything to "defend."

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd So it sounds like you just made your own argument for why the war on terror isn't over. Sadly this war will continue until the living standards for people in those countries improves to the point where a message of martyrdom doesn't seem so appealing. Which I suspect will take generations if not centuries.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Radical Islamist want everyone to be Muslim or die, thats why the hate us, because we are not Muslim. As for Gitmo, Obama promised to close it first day in office.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd No fool. What I said is that the war on Terror will continues as long as we continue to play Wold Police. I'm not assigning blame merely pointing out the reality of the situation. And while 9/11 is not our fault the chief driver of Bin Laden's hate against us was our presence in Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the first Gulp War and our support of Israel. As for Gitmo it is a stain on our honor as a nation and something the military never wanted or supported.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@absurdbuttrue @mantisdragon91 

Pro Tip: Service early in adulthood does not give a pass to be an a55hole bigot later in life. It actually tarnishes the service that you did do.