What Obama said- and noticeably did not say- regarding counterterrorism in his State of the Union Address should raise red flags in the minds of all Americans.
Most importantly, he seemingly forgot about his 2009 election promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay. He failed to even mention Guantanamo Bay or the progress in that regard. Unlike 2009, he did not even make idealistic promises about shutting down the facility.
He also implied that the drone strikes under his administration were However, the very concept of untargeted drones that take massive civilian casualties at the expense of killing a few terrorist leaders goes against the U.S. ideals of upholding the rights of the individual for the betterment of society.
Overall, Obama projected an image very different from that in 2009. Whereas in 2009 Obama won over Americans with his call for change, Obama now seems content in maintaining the status quo. During the State of the Union Adress, he claimed, “So in the months ahead, I will continue to engage Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”
Why is U.S. counterterrorism so messy? The fact of the matter is that the United States is unable to deal with the terrorist threat. Yes, the United States, the largest military in the world, is unable to deal with the terrorist threat and is thus forced to use extreme measures and violate its own founding principles in this pursuit.
In isolation, the U.S. counterterrorism policies seem bad, but in the context of U.S. history counterterrorism is actually quite moderate. Take a glance at U.S. history and you will see that the U.S. was always threatened by some foreign power. Just a few decades ago, the U.S. went to great lengths and sacrificed the rights of its people, especially Democrat supposed Communists, in ousting the threat of the U.S.S.R. During World War II, the U.S. set up internment for U.S. citizens of hostile ethnicities. Before that, the rights of Southerners, Chinese, and other ethnicities deemed threats faced oppression throughout U.S. history.
This is not to justify U.S. counterterrorism efforts, but just to offer an explanation. As the United States becomes more advanced and modern, its social and political systems should follow suit. But the history of the U.S., molded by a series of perceived threats, will prevent it from doing so. As such, not Obama but the citizens of America who voted for him and current Congressmen and shaped public opinion should be held accountable for the U.S.’s barbaric counterterrorism strategies.