President Obama made a ‘war on terror’ state of the union type speech today at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCC). The speech covered the basics (we are fighting hard against Al Qaeda, but the threat is still with us, etc.), but two things peaked my interests. There was a lot to like about the speech no doubt, but these two things irked me a bit.
First off, Obama rightly praised the work of all those who have diligently worked, mostly in the shadows, to keep America safe. Specifically, he highlighted the recent good works that have lead to the deaths or capture of 11 of the top 20 Al Qaeda members. These folks and these works do indeed deserve every American citizen’s cheers and gratitude. But what was missing was any mention of the previous administration led by President Bush. The very constitution of the NCC itself as it looks today would not be as it is without the Bush administration. I’m not asking Obama to heap praise on Bush, but a quick acknowledgement of all the work that was done after 9/11 would have been appropriate and respectful. Whether one agreed with 50%, 75%, or 100% of the previous administration’s anti-terror policies, there were still thousands of good people, many Bush appointed, doing their best to keep America safe and by not mentioning this in any real way is bringing partisanship into national security. Obama, you don’t like Bush, I get it, but you’ve been president for almost a year now and know the hard calls that the position takes. I would think this would sober one up a bit and give one greater respect for his predecessors. It’s not like President Obama has really reversed much of the Bush anti-terror policies anyways. This is really disappointing to me because, though it sounds and is surely naïve, I like to think that certain parts of our American system are above politics, and protecting the country is one of them. I would like to see more continuity between administrations and less ‘all bad, I fix’ mentality that I so far have seen from Obama.
Secondly, I was disappointed in the time of the speech, not the ‘timing’, but the speech’s length. It is well known that President Obama’s main focus is on domestic affairs, but couldn’t a speech on a such a vital national security issue be longer than 10 minutes?! Especially in light of the recent arrest of Al Qaeda connected terrorist Zazi in Denver and reports that the US has had some major success in killing numerous of Bin Ladin’s top men in the mountains of Pakistan. I’m not sure how long the President’s Olympic address was in Copenhagen, but I’m gonna guess it was longer.
Overall, a couple minor qualms in a decent speech. GPP’s thoughts on the Iranian negotiations and Obama’s UN speech still to come. And I guess I could forsee the 4th edition of GPP Great Power Rankings! coming soon as well.