The Failed War on the ‘War on
In May, President Barack Obama responded to critics of his counterterrorism policies by declaring that he was ready to work with Congress “to refine, and ultimately repeal” the authorization for the use of military force that served as the legal foundation and operational genesis of the war on terror. “Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue,” he said. “But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”
The muted and skeptical reaction to the president’s speech cast doubt on the implication that this war is, in any crucial way, “like all wars.” The next day, Time asked, “Can Obama End the War on Terror?” CBS News headlined its story “Should President Obama end the war on terror?” The questions lingered and piled up; a week after the speech, the Nation chimed in: “Will Obama End the Long War on Terror?” Can? Should? Will? Suddenly, the president who claims to have been “elected to end wars, not start them” appeared powerless to do anything but perpetuate this one.