In a stunning reversal of a speech that “sounded more George W. Bush than Barack Obama,” as Newt Gingrich astutely pointed out, the president of the United States finally showed some swagger as he called out ISIS, vowing in a speech on the eve of September 11 – thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks – to “degrade and destroy” that terrorist organization.
That was a “powerful speech that Obama never would have made, from 2007 to last week,” Gingrich wisely observed, pinpointing the amazing transformation of a president.
Pundits throughout the networks noted that Obama never wanted to give such a speech, but realized he had to.
Recently, NBC political analyst and new host of Meet the Press handed the president the ultimate insult – at least in terms of political viability – describing his handling of matters abroad as a “Jimmy Carter-like” foreign policy.”
Virtually everyone seemed to realize – not least of all Obama himself – that you can only play it cool for so long. At some point, particularly after the videotaped beheadings of two American journalists – words matter. Backbone matters. Resolve matters.
Though he drew some dubious comparisons to Yemen and Somalia, describing them as successful anti-terrorism maneuvers, and declared that “America is safer,” Obama nonetheless proclaimed a new doctrine, similar to the words George W. Bush used right after 9/11: “if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
“ISIL [another name for ISIS] is not Islamic,” the president said, because “no religion kills innocents.” Some pundits saw that as a necessary distinction for Obama to make, in order to attract more moderate Muslim groups to provide the “groups on the ground” a role Obama maintains will not be undertaken by Americans.
But the United States will continue to strike at ISIS hard, with air power, Obama promised. He spoke of a “broad” coalition in the air (though he did not mention any nations by name), in Syria as well as Iraq, and is in the process of attracting Arab factions, along with the help of a newly-formed inclusive Iraqi government, to converge in eliminating ISIS.
“Our objective is clear: we will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”