By Daniel Greenfield
Last year Obama delivered his own “Mission Accomplished” speech at the National Defense University. Its broad theme was that the War on Terror was over; it was time to shut down Guantanamo Bay and stand down from a war footing.
Obama claimed credit for putting “the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan” on the “path to defeat” with his disastrous Afghan strategy which cost 1,600 American lives while letting the Taliban take over the country. He did not acknowledge that the so-called core Al Qaeda had stopped being relevant even before he was elected.
1,600 Americans died chasing a political slogan that existed only in the heads of his speechwriters.
That same year 499 Americans were killed in Afghanistan.
Obama had declared victory against an enemy that the United States wasn’t fighting while losing a war to an enemy that the United States was fighting.
Meanwhile his own people were telling him that Al Qaeda had not been defeated.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper said, in response to a question about whether Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, “No. It is morphing and franchising itself, not only here but in other areas of the world.”
“They are not,” Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn added.
These two men were not telling the Senate Armed Services committee anything they had not already told Obama. But their boss was choosing not to listen.
By narrowly defining Al Qaeda as a small number of leaders and fighters in pre-existing war zones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, he and his White House staffers were making it easier to claim victory while ignoring the threat from expanding groups such as Boko Haram and Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.
Obama’s policy snapshot of Al Qaeda in which Osama bin Laden was still a menace and Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan were the biggest threat to America was a decade out of date.
In his Mission Accomplished speech, Obama said that the core of Al Qaeda was no longer a threat.”They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi or Boston.”
Al Qaeda’s core might not have directed either attack, though it’s possible it did, but both attacks emerged from its strategy of building up local franchises and training lone wolf attackers over the internet.
What Obama was celebrating as proof of his victory over Al Qaeda actually reflected his failure to understand and prepare for Al Qaeda’s next move.
He was using the fact that Al Qaeda had outmaneuvered him twice, and carried out devastating attacks, as proof that he had defeated Al Qaeda and that we no longer had to worry about Al Qaeda.
It was a moment of supreme cluelessness.