Right-wing media have seized on a National Journal report quoting an anonymous State Department official saying that “the war on terror is over” to claim that President Obama has “surrendered.” In fact, both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeatedly emphasized their commitment to “eliminat[ing] terrorism” and have repeatedly said “we are at war” with Al Qaeda and other extremists.
National Journal Quotes Anonymous State Dept. Official Saying “The War On Terror Is Over”
National Journal: “One Senior State Department Official” Said " 'The War On Terror Is Over.' " From an April 23 post by Michael Hirsh on a National Journal blog:
In an article in the current National Journal called “The Post Al Qaida Era,” I write that the Obama administration is taking a new view of Islamist radicalism. The president realizes he has no choice but to cultivate the Muslim Brotherhood and other relatively “moderate” Islamist groups emerging as lead political players out of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. (The Muslim Brotherhood officially renounced violence decades ago, leading then-dissident radicals such as Ayman al-Zawahiri to join al Qaida.)
It is no longer the case, in other words, that every Islamist is seen as a potential accessory to terrorists. “The war on terror is over,” one senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues told me. “Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.” [NationalJournal.com, 4/23/12]
"[Obama] Has Surrendered": Right-Wing Attack Obama Over Anonymous Quote
Drudge: “ADMIN: 'War On Terror Is Over' ...” On April 23, the Drudge Report linked to the National Journal post with the following headlines:
Breitbart.com: “Obama Is Truly Declaring An End To The War On Islamism. ... He Has Surrendered.” From an April 23 post on Breitbart.com's Big Peace:
Today, the National Journal reported that a senior State Department official has announced, “The war on terror is over.”
“Now that we have killed most of al Qaida,” the source said, “now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.”
The article itself describes the Obama administration's new vision of foreign policy, which admits no enemies. Everyone, in this view, is a friend. Islamism, says the Obama administration, is just fine, so long as it does not openly support terrorism.
In truth, Obama isn't declaring an end to the war on terror -- terrorism continues unabated each day in Egypt and the Palestinian territories and Iraq and Afghanistan and Sudan and Yemen and Syria and Lebanon and a dozen other hotspots around the globe. Obama is truly declaring an end to the war on Islamism. He has made his peace; he has surrendered. In doing so, he has condemned broad swaths of the world to darkness, and more immediately, he has condemned America to a defensive position in the world. Now there is no proactive America shaping the world to her own ends. Now there is only an atomistic world, a series of billiard balls, in which America waits to be struck before bouncing back. [Big Peace, Breitbart.com, 4/23/12]
Kilmeade: Obama Admin. Is Saying That Now “Those Islamic Extremists That Had To Live In Caves” Can “Be President.” From the April 24 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Did you guys know that the war on terror is over?
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Pop the champagne!
CARLSON: Yeah, I mean, all of those sort of efforts here in New York City alone to have a war on terror here, 10 plots, I think, that have been stopped by the NYPD here. Apparently all for naught, because the war on terror, according to one State Department official, is technically over. Here's the quote. “Now that we have killed most of Al Qaeda, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into Al Qaeda see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.”
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): So, fantastic. In other words, they're saying those Islamic extremists that had to live in caves?
KILMEADE: Now they can be president. That's the magic of Arab Spring and the -- where it's turning -- because our hands are off the bicycle seat.
KILMEADE: So how disturbing is this that the State Department feels this sentiment? At the same time, you've got simultaneous court cases going on -- talking about blowing up the Long Island Railroad, the subway bomber that was going to blow up four or five different lines at the same time, and more and more Americans going over to Pakistan to train. What are they training for?
DOOCY: Maybe it shouldn't be surprising. I mean, how long did this administration go before they would call them terrorists? They simply would not do that.
KILMEADE: Well, we don't pick up terrorists anymore, so we're not talking to anybody. We're letting our Al Qaeda guys play soccer in -- at Gitmo, so how do we even know if the war is over? We kill them all. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/24/12]
But Obama Has Repeatedly Said We Are “At War” With Al Qaeda And Other Terrorists ...
January 2009, Obama's Inaugural Address: “Our Nation Is At War Against A Far-Reaching Network Of Violence And Hatred.” During his January 20, 2009, inaugural address, Obama said, “Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.” He later added: “We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.” [WhiteHouse.gov, 1/21/09]
March 2009: Obama: “To The Terrorists Who Oppose Us, My Message Is ... We Will Defeat You.” During his March 27, 2009, speech about a “comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Obama said the U.S. was in Afghanistan because “al Qaeda and its allies -- the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks -- are in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” He later said:
OBAMA: So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That is the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: we will defeat you. [USNews.com, 3/27/09]
December 2009, Obama's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech: “We Are At War,” And “Negotiations Cannot Convince Al Qaeda's Leaders To Lay Down Their Arms.” During his December 10, 2009, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Obama referred to the “effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks” and stated that “we are at war, and I'm responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land.” He later said:
OBAMA: I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason. [WhiteHouse.gov, 12/10/09]
March 2010: Obama: “Al Qaeda And Their Extremist Allies” Are “A Threat To People All Around The World.” During a March 28, 2010, speech to the troops at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, Obama said, “Al Qaeda and their extremist allies are a threat to the people of Afghanistan and a threat to the people of America, but they're also a threat to people all around the world.” He later said:
OBAMA: Our broad mission is clear: We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al Qaeda and its extremist allies. That is our mission. And to accomplish that goal, our objectives here in Afghanistan are also clear: We're going to deny al Qaeda safe haven. We're going to reverse the Taliban's momentum. We're going to strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces and the Afghan government so that they can begin taking responsibility and gain confidence of the Afghan people. [WhiteHouse.gov, 3/28/10]
May 2011: Obama: “Our Fight Is Focused On Defeating Al Qaeda And Its Extremist Allies. In That Effort, We Will Not Relent.” During a May 25, 2011, speech that Obama gave in London to the U.K. Parliament, Obama said:
OBAMA: Terrorists have taken the lives of our citizens in New York and in London. And while al Qaeda seeks a religious war with the West, we must remember that they have killed thousands of Muslims
men, women and children
around the globe. Our nations are not and will never be at war with Islam. Our fight is focused on defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies. In that effort, we will not relent, as Osama bin Laden and his followers have learned.
Obama later said, "[W]e will ensure that Afghanistan is never a safe haven for terror, but is instead a country that is strong, sovereign, and able to stand on its own two feet." [WhiteHouse.gov, 5/25/11]
March 2012: Obama: “We Can't Afford To Have Non-State Actors, Terrorists, Get Their Hands On Nuclear Weapons.” During a joint speech President Obama gave with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani in March 2012 at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Obama said that “the United States and Pakistan have a host of mutual interests,” including “combating terrorism, both internationally and in our respective countries.” Obama later said, " I think that we all agree that given the threats that have been directed in Pakistan, the terrorism that has taken place on their own soil, and obviously our experiences with terrorism, we can't afford to have non-state actors, terrorists, get their hands on nuclear weapons that could end up destroying our cities or harming our citizens." [WhiteHouse.gov, 3/27/12]
... As Has Secretary Clinton
October 2009: Clinton: “We Feel Very Strongly ... That The Extremists And The Terrorists Who Deploy Violence Have To Be Defeated Wherever They Are.” During an October 28, 2009, press conference in Pakistan with then-Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Clinton said:
CLINTON: These extremists are committed to destroying that which is dear to us as much as they are committed to destroying that which is dear to you and to all people. So this is our struggle as well, and we commend the Pakistani military for their courageous fight, and we commit to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Pakistani people in your fight for peace and security. We will give you the help that you need in order to achieve your goal.
Clinton later said in response to a reporter's question, “We feel very strongly, as the foreign minister said, that the extremists and the terrorists who deploy violence have to be defeated wherever they are. ... [T]his is, as the foreign minister said, a fight that cannot be avoided.” [State.gov, 10/28/09]
October 2010: Clinton: U.S. And Pakistan “Are Working Closely Together With Governments Around The World ... To Eliminate Terrorism.” During an October 2010 press conference in Washington, D.C., with Qureshi, Clinton said: “To build the kind of bright future that young Pakistanis deserve, people of courage must stand against these extremists. And our two governments are working closely together with governments around the world, and millions and millions of people who understand the threat that is posed, to eliminate terrorism.” [State.gov, 10/22/10]
May 2011: Clinton: “It Is Especially Important That There Be No Doubt That Those Who Pursue A Terrorist Agenda ... Will Be Brought To Justice.” During a May 2011 press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, Clinton said:
CLINTON: With respect to the ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Usama bin Ladin's death sent an unmistakable message about the strength of the resolve of the international community to stand against extremism and those who perpetuate it. But let us not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its affiliates does not end with one death. We have to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but around the world, because it is especially important that there be no doubt that those who pursue a terrorist agenda, the criminals who indiscriminately murder innocent people will be brought to justice. [State.gov, 5/5/11]
October 2011: Clinton: “Stopping Terrorism Is An Urgent Interest That” The U.S. And Pakistan “Share.” During an October 2011 press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Clinton said: “We recognize and we sympathize with the fact that violent extremism has taken the lives of thousands of Pakistanis, also thousands of Americans and thousands of Afghans. So stopping terrorism is an urgent interest that we share.” [State.gov, 10/21/11]
Right-Wing Media Have Previously Leveled Empty Attacks On Obama's Commitment To Fighting Terrorism
Right-Wing Media Falsely Claimed Obama Failed To Label Fight Against Terrorists “A War.” Following Obama's January 7, 2010, speech about the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing, right-wing media falsely suggested that prior to that speech, Obama had not characterized the fight against terrorists as a “war.” [Media Matters, 1/8/10]
Fox's Kilmeade Falsely Claimed Obama Was Neglecting War On Terrorism. On the May 4, 2010, broadcast of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed President Obama wasn't serious about fighting terrorism because he was “reaching out” to the Muslim world and because Obama has said that America is not at war with Islam. [Media Matters, 5/4/10]
Conservative Media Spent Years Attacking Obama's Commitment To Fighting Terrorism And Calling Him Weak On Terror. Right-wing media have repeatedly suggested that Obama is not serious about defending America from terrorism threats. In March 2010, Fox News host Sean Hannity said that Obama was “weak” and “an appeaser.” In January 2010, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson said that “when it comes to terror,” the White House's “tone” is “not quite that serious.” In August 2009, frequent Fox News guest Michael Scheuer said on Fox & Friends that Obama “obviously does not care” about “protecting Amercians.” [Media Matters, 5/2/11]