Topic of the day: President Obama's speech on defense

Published: Friday, May 24 2013 2:00 p.m. MDT

Yesterday, President Obama gave a long awaited speech at the National Defense University, chiefly addressing the concerns on the administrations use of drones. The big takeaway from his speech? It’s time to end the war on terror. Here is a collection of opinions from around the web about Obama's remarks.

“President Obama’s speech on Thursday was the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America,” reads the opening statement of the New York Times editorial on the subjet. “For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future.”

The Washington Post viewed the speech as a critique of Obama’s past four years and the way he managed the war on terror, and what it has become. “The fundamental question with which Mr. Obama wrestled Thursday is the nature of the war — if it is still a war — in which the United States remains engaged.”

Commentary’s Matt Boot failed to see any meat behind the president’s statements, and accuses him of trying to blame the Bush administration while still following its policies more or less. “Better that Obama feign a change of course rather than actually undertake a change of course, because the course established by Bush and continued by Obama has kept us largely, although not entirely, safe since 9/11. Indeed, Obama’s welcome and robust defense of drone strikes ('our actions are effective… [and] legal') also could have come from his predecessor’s mouth.

James Fallows, in The Atlantic, notes that far more important than the presidents statements on curtailing the use of drones in the war on terror and at home is the presidents efforts to deal with the war itself and "to end the 'Authorization for Use of Military Force,’ which the Congress passed while the rubble of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was still smoking and which has been the basis for the wars, detention, killings, and torture carried out in the 11+ years since then.”

The Christian Science Monitor’s Anna Mulrine notes that potentially one of the biggest and most hoped for statements to come out of the president yesterday was his commitment to moving drone strikes away from the CIA and towards the Department of Defense. “'This is a big deal. It’s something that we’ve been pushing for quite a long time — to have it moved over to the DOD,’ says Sarah Holewinski, executive director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict. ‘The military is actually quite accountable not only to Congress but also to the American people.’” We are in a war after all, Mulrine notes, and treating it as anything else would be wrong. The same people we trust to run our wars we should trust to run drone strikes.

Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and is the DeseretNews.com opinion intern. Reach me at fstevenson@deseretdigital or @freemandesnews

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