Fox News' Scott rehashes bogus claims about Obama's West Point speech

On Happening Now, Jon Scott claimed that, in his West Point speech last year, Obama never “used the term 'victory' or ...'we're going to defeat the enemy in Afghanistan.'” In fact, Obama repeatedly referred to “defeating al Qaeda” and achieving a “successful” end to the war in that speech and in other remarks.

Scott falsely claimed that Obama didn't say “we're going to defeat the enemy” in his West Point speech

Scott: Obama was “widely criticized for not using the term 'victory'” in West Point speech. On the August 2 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, host Jon Scott rehashed the media's unwarranted criticism of Obama “for not using the term 'victory' or...'we're going to defeat the enemy in Afghanistan'” during his December 2009 West Point speech. Scott also compared the West Point speech to Obama's August 2 speech before the Disabled American Veterans, claiming that “in this speech, one of the biggest applause lines he got was when he said 'we will defeat Al Qaeda.'”

In fact, Obama repeatedly referred to “defeating al Qaeda”

Twice Obama said goal is “defeating Al Qaeda” in his West Point speech. In his West Point speech, Obama twice said the goal is to “defeat al Qaeda.” From Obama's December 1 speech at West Point [emphasis added]:

And that's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops. After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian efforts.


These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

Obama has referred to “defeating” al Qaeda in numerous speeches. Contrary to Scott's suggestion that Obama is just now talking about “defeating” the enemy in Afghanistan, Obama has used the phrase “defeat” to refer to al Qaeda and the Taliban numerous times in the past. A few examples include:

  • In a January 7 speech on “Strengthening Intelligence and Aviation Security,” Obama said: “We are at war. We are at war against al Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them.”
  • On March 28, Obama delivered remarks to the troops at Bagram Airfield in which he said: “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.”
  • In a June 23 statement from the Rose Garden, accepting Gen. McChrystal's resignation, Obama said: “I have a responsibility to do what is -- whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan, and in our broader effort to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda. ”
  • In October 2009, during remarks made at the National Counterterrorism Center, Obama said: “Because of you, and all the organizations you represent, we're making real progress in our core mission: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and other extremist networks around the world. We must never lose sight of that goal. That's the principal threat to the American people. That is the threat that led to the creation of this Center. And that must be the focus of our efforts to defend the homeland and our allies, and defeat extremists abroad.”

Obama also discussed bringing the war “to a successful conclusion.” As Media Matters noted, conservative media including Fox News complained that Obama never said the words “win” or “victory” in his West Point speech. However, Obama repeatedly referred to a “successful” end to the war. From the speech [emphasis added]:

OBAMA: Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan -- the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion. It's an extraordinary honor for me to do so here at West Point -- where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.


OBAMA: Because this is an international effort, I've asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we're confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. And now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what's at stake is not simply a test of NATO's credibility -- what's at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

Fox News has previously claimed Obama has not used words like “terrorist” or “war”

Beck distorted terms Obama administration uses to describe terrorism. On the July 19 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Beck rehashed numerous distortions of the Obama administration's approach to describing terrorism, falsely claiming that the administration insists that terrorism be called “man-caused disasters” ; that the administration removed the label “enemy combatant” so that such people could not be held in jail; that the war on terror must be referred to as the “overseas contingency operation.” Beck also distorted Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan's remarks on jihad.

In fact, Obama has used the words “terrorist” and “terrorism” throughout his presidency. Contrary to Beck's suggestion that the administration has declared that “there is no terrorism,” President Obama has used the words “terrorism” and “terrorist” numerous times in speeches, press conferences, and other statements throughout his presidency. For example:

  • When announcing trade sanctions on Iran, Obama stated: "[T]he Iranian government has violated its commitments, defied United Nations Security Council resolutions, and forged ahead with its nuclear program -- all while supporting terrorist groups and suppressing the aspirations of the Iranian people." Obama later said that sanctions would make “it harder for the Revolutionary Guards and banks that support Iran's nuclear programs and terrorism to engage in international finance.”
  • In January 2 radio remarks addressing the attempted Christmas Day bombing, Obama said: “It has now been more than a week since the attempted act of terrorism aboard that flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.”
  • When answering questions regarding terrorism at a G-20 press conference, Obama stated: "[A]ll of us have an interest not in occupying Afghanistan, but an interest in making sure Afghanistan is stable, can stand on its own two feet when it comes to security issues, and is not a base for terrorist activities launched against the United States of America."

Obama has repeatedly used the word “war.” Obama used the word “war” at least seven times during his January 27 State of the Union speech. Moreover, following his January 7 remarks on the attempted Christmas Day bombing -- remarks during which Obama stated, “We are at war. We are at war with al Qaeda” -- numerous conservative media figures falsely suggested that prior to that speech, Obama had not characterized the fight against terrorists as a war. In fact, in his inaugural address, Obama stated that "[o]ur nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred," and he has repeatedly discussed terrorism as the rationale for U.S. military action abroad.