With the military on its way out of Afghanistan but the threat of terrorism around the world still very prevalent, the national defense strategy is at a crossroads. In what was seen by many as a landmark speech on Thursday, President Barack Obama laid out his plans for his counter terrorism strategy and touched on everything from the use of drones and the closing of Guantanamo Bay to the rethinking of the war on terror and national security.
One of the biggest takeaways from Obama's speech was that his second term will shift the focus on counter terrorism efforts from overseas to back home. Specifically, he pointed to the fact that fighting a global war on terror is no longer a feasible option, especially at a time when the Armed Forces is downsizing. In other words, he wants to fight against terror to go from casting a wide net to having a more specific, targeted approach.
"Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless 'global war on terror' – but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America," he told the audience at National Defense University. "In many cases, this will involve partnerships with other countries."
In defense of drones
Obama's use of drone strikes has come under heavy fire in recent months, especially in light of recent revelations that they have killed four American citizens overseas – three of whom were inadvertently targeted. Despite the controversy, Obama defended his use of these unmanned aircrafts to perform targeted air strikes. However, he did say that he is ordering a review of how the drones are deployed and will increase the oversight of the process.
Obama's much anticipated speech was met with a variety of reactions, and both sides of the political spectrum felt he did not go into detail enough. On the Republican side, Speaker of the House John Boehner said it left few questions unanswered, including whether or not a less aggressive foreign policy approach will diminish the threat of terrorism, according to The Boston Globe. As for Democrats, the President's own party wants him to be more aggressive in his efforts to close Gitmo, something he pledged to do while running for the office in 2008.