Politics
Emergency crews flood the scene helping those injured after two explosions went off near the Boston Marathon finish line. Charles Krupa/AP Images. Emergency crews flood the scene helping those injured after two explosions went off near the Boston Marathon finish line. Charles Krupa/AP Images.  

Obama urges end to war on terrorism

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

On Thursday, President Barack Obama urged an end to the war against terrorism, which legally began once Congress reacted to the jihadi attack on the Twin Towers.

“Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue” through the use of courts and police, he announced in a speech at the National Defense University.

“This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands,” he said.

Obama also acknowledged that the war war started by the jihadi ideology, which he called a “lie.”

But the president can’t end the war on terrorism by himself, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said. The war “is being waged against us” by jihadis, Bolton told Fox News after the speech. “Obama thinks of terrorism like a souped-up version of robbing a local Starbucks,” he said. Bolton argues that jihadis are motivated by a coherent, established idea of holy war for Islam, which urges near-perpetual war against non-Muslim governments.

Obama’s speech included repeated warnings against the use of force, repeated praise for the U.S. legal system, and repeated calls for tolerance of periodic terror strikes.

Much of the speech was directed at his progressive allies who have pressed for the release of more than 100 jihadis from the Guantanamo Bay prison, the end to missile strikes on jihadis overseas, and a rollback of the military’s role in U.S. foreign policy. Obama’s speech offered concessions to those progressive allies.

But he also offered some reassurance to the public, which overwhelmingly supports Guantanamo and drone strikes on jihadis. A Fox poll, for example, reported that 56 percent of Americans believe jihads are more threatening now than before September 2001.

Obama’s call for a one-sided end to the war was part of a speech in which he urged the closure of Guantanamo, amid pressure from the captured jihadis, many of whom are on hunger strike.

“History will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it,” he said.

“Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. Is that who we are? Is that something that our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?” he asked.

Obama also indirectly praised a heckler who interrupted his speech to urge the release of numerous jihadis from Guantanamo.

“I’m going off script, as you might think here, [but] the voice of that women is worth paying attention to,” he said.

“Obviously, I do not agree with much of what she said, and obviously she was not listening to me in much of what I said, but these are tough issues, and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong,” he said.