Speeches neither win nor end wars.
Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 9/26/14
President Obama won the presidency in 2008 in very large measure as a result of promising to end war. His 2008 come-from-behind primary victory against a once inevitable Hillary Clinton was almost totally because her Senate vote in favor of the Iraq war haunted her.
By the time of his re-election in 2012, and against the advice of nearly every senior military advisor, President Obama had withdrawn all U.S. forces from Iraq – a fact that he trumpeted throughout the campaign.
At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, speaker after speaker echoed the line, “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” The crowd ate it up.
“All wars must end” said the president in a May 2013 speech.
The problem that the president now faces is that no one told the enemy. It started just weeks before the 2012 election, on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stephens was killed in a terror attack along with three other U.S. personnel at Benghazi, Libya.
Since then, the world has become increasingly dangerous. as evidenced by the recent brutal beheadings of two Americans.
The president is learning that giving a speech saying that war is receding doesn’t actually end wars. Wars end when someone wins and someone loses. The forces of radical Islam seem unfazed by Obama’s declarations of their defeat and thus they remain at war with the West in general and that great symbol of the West – the United States – in particular.
You know your “tide of war is receding” narrative is falling apart when even the pope contradicts you. In a little-noticed conversation with reporters last month, Pope Francis said,
“[we] are now in World War III…today we are in a world at war everywhere.”
To borrow from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the president’s chickens are coming home to roost. His retreat from America’s historic role as peacekeeper to the world, his disavowal of American exceptionalism, his bowing to Saudi autocrats, his serial rejection of the advice of his own military leaders and his decision to totally abandon Iraq — have all served to embolden an enemy that remains in its own mind resolutely at war.
The president finds himself haunted by the words of retired Marine General James Mattis who said:
“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it’s over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”
With respect to the war against terror, until we win or until we lose, the war will go on. Peddling a fantasy that the tide of war is receding can win an election. But unless the tide really does recede, the battle will eventually have to be joined.
And until Islamic terrorism – in all of its incarnations – decides to give up, this new type of war will bedevil this administration and administrations to come.
With respect to winning this war, as the president is discovering, speeches will not suffice.