President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the fight against Islamic terrorism is one that will last a generation.
“We know that in some form this violent extremism will be with us for years to come. In too many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, there’s been a breakdown of order that’s been building for decades, and it’s unleashed forces that are going to take a generation to resolve,” Obama said during a speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
The president’s speech focused on his military accomplishments and laying out a vision for the future.
Speaking about the threat of terrorism, Obama said domestic terrorism brings a unique challenge.
“What complicates the challenge even more is the fact that for all of our necessary focus on fighting terrorists overseas, the most deadly attacks on the homeland over the last eight years have not been carried out by operatives with sophisticated networks or equipment directed from abroad,” Obama said. “They’ve been carried out by home-grown and largely isolated individuals who were radicalized online.”
The president, however, cautioned that these home-grown terrorists “can’t inflict the sort of mass casualties we saw on 9/11.” Obama added that while these attacks have been smaller, the family of victims in attacks such as San Bernardino feel pain that “continues to this day.”
“So while we’ve made it much more difficult, you have made it much more difficult to carry out an attack approaching the scale of 9/11, the threat will endure,” the president said. “We will not achieve the kind of clearly defined victory comparable to those that we won in previous wars against nations. We won’t have a scene of the Emperor of Japan and Douglas MacArthur in a surrender.”
Obama then went on to focus his blame for this on technology and the second amendment. He said that technology “makes it impossible to completely shield impressionable minds from violent ideologies.” Obama added that someone who is trying to kill is “dangerous, particularly when we live in a country where it’s very easy for that person to buy a very powerful weapon.”
He then took veiled shots at President-elect Donald Trump’s previous call to “bomb the shit out of” ISIS and ban Muslim immigration.
“So rather then offer false promises, that we can eliminate terrorism by dropping more bombs, or deploying more and more troops, or fencing ourselves off from the rest of the world, we have to take a long view of the terrorist threat. And we have to pursue a smart strategy that can be sustained,” Obama said.
The president said that this strategy would treat terrorists like “thugs and murderers” and not a serious threat. In addition, Obama said the U.S. needs to respect the rule of law by not engaging in waterboarding and keeping Guantanamo Bay prison open. He also said that the United States needs to accept refugees “who have escaped the horrors of war.” All of these policies are ones President-elect Trump has advocated against.
Obama continued on to say, “We are fighting terrorists who claim to fight on behalf of Islam, but they do not speak for most Muslims.”