In his prime-time address to the nation Sunday night,President Obama intended to reassure the American people in the wake of the San Bernardino terror attack, and lay out a strategy to counter the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS. But he had nothing new to offer, and left a sense that he has lost control over a situation that he does not fully understand.
The president said the war on terrorism has “evolved into a new phase.” But just days after an undetected ISIL-affiliated duo was able to conduct the deadliest domestic terror attack since September 11, 2001, he didn’t have anything new to offer. Obama outlined a strategy to destroy ISIL, but it was the same strategy he was talking about a year ago. If it hasn’t worked, why will it do any better in the future?
The president said we must be “strong and smart, resilient and relentless.” But he has said similar things before. Three weeks ago he said ISIL was “contained,” and later that day ISIL hit Paris. Shortly before the San Bernardino attack, Obama said there was no credible domestic terror threat. However, there was a threat, he just did not know about it. Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said recently that ISIL did not have the capabilities to mount an attack in this country. But clearly it does, and did.