Sunday, June 01, 2014

In Obama’s Speeches, a Shifting Tone on Terror

MAY 31, 2014

WASHINGTON — Few leaders place more weight than President Obama on the power of the spoken word to clarify a messy world. But after five and a half years and dozens of speeches — most recently at West Point last week — the trail of Mr. Obama’s pronouncements has grown muddier.

Speaking to cadets at the United States Military Academy, Mr. Obama said, “For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America, at home and abroad, remains terrorism.” A year ago, speaking at the National Defense University here, the president said of the post-9/11 war on terrorism, “this war, like all wars, must end.”

Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 2009, Mr. Obama said, “There will be times when nations, acting individually or in concert, will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.” On Wednesday at West Point, he said, “Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences.”

By themselves, these statements are not contradictory. And White House officials insist that the policies laid out in his speeches, whether on the use of force or the nature of the terrorist threat, are rigorously consistent. But Mr. Obama’s tone has shifted radically, depending on his audience and the context.

(More here.)


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