Thursday, President Obama laid out a long list of National Defense priorities, including closing Guantanamo Bay, revising the AUMF that authorizes the war against Al Qaeda, and to shift CIA drone operations to DOD control. He addressed the cost of the war, the Fifth Amendment, and the rights of individuals. The bottom line he stressed is that the war against terrorism that we have been waging since 2001 is over, as we know it.
He did not mention some of the greater threats to the U.S., such as Iranian cyber intrusions. The government has acknowledged Iranian cyber-attacks targeting critical infrastructure such as energy companies. He also did not address Chinese cyber espionage that generally targets information and trade secrets.
Obama emphasized that the war on terrorism is a war of ideas. It is fueled by ideology, the idea that the U.S. is at war with Islam and because of this, acts of terrorism against civilians is justified. President Obama called this ideology a lie, and proposed diplomatic solutions such as foreign aid in order to win this war of perception. He said, “Foreign assistance cannot be viewed as charity.” The goal is to take away the events that inspire radicalism.
He addressed the civilian casualties associated with drone strikes, but defended the governments use of them when capture is not feasible. He said, “Our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute.” When a heckler attempted to address unintentional drone casualties, such as the 16 year old U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was the brother of Anwar al-Awlaki, he did not directly address the blowback and radicalization that results from such events.
The Wall Street Journal, Obama Reset War on Terror: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323975004578501360528403172.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTTopStories
The Washington Post, Letter from Attorney General Eric Holder on Americans Killed in Counterterrorism Operations: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/letter-from-attorney-general-eric-holder-on-americans-killed-in-counterterrorism-operations/175/?hpid=z2
Reuters, Iran Seeks to Speed up Nuclear Activity: IAEA: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/23/us-iran-nuclear-iaea-idUSBRE94M0BM20130523
The Huffington Post, Obama to Address Drones, Gitmo in Security Speech: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/obama-to-address-drones-g_n_3324670.html
Salon, Cyber Attacks Could Cause the Next World War: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/22/cyber_war_poses_significant_threat_to_national_security_partner/
National Post, Waging the Cyber War in Syria: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/05/21/ronald-deibert-waging-the-cyber-war-in-syria/
Oregon Live, Drones over Pendleton: Unmanned Military Craft Plies Civilian Airspace: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2013/05/drones_over_pendleton_unmanned.html
Costs of War, Economic Summary: http://costsofwar.org/article/economic-cost-summary
The Washington Post, President Obama’s Speech on The Future of The War on Terror: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/23/read-president-obamas-speech-on-the-future-of-the-war-on-terror/