Mr. Obama rejected the notion of an expansive war on terrorism and instead articulated a narrower understanding of the mission for the United States. “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 said.
The president’s moves stirred immediate skepticism among Republicans, who have long questioned whether he was playing down the continuing threat of terrorism for political reasons, as in the case of the attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, last year.
Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, issued 10 questions to the president in reaction to previews of his speech. “Is it still your administration’s goal to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda?” he asked. “If you are scaling back the use of unmanned drones, which actions will you be taking as a substitute to ensure Al Qaeda’s defeat? Is it your view that if the U.S. is less aggressive in eliminating terrorists abroad, the threat of terrorist attacks will diminish on its own?”
Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, was sharper in reaction. “The president’s speech today will be viewed by terrorists as a victory,” he said. “Rather than continuing successful counterterrorism activities, we are changing course with no clear operational benefit.”
Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war. It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist.