President Obama failed to mention terrorism in his inaugural address, omitting from his remarks the existential threat that has plagued the United States for more than a decade.
Recent events have shown that al Qaeda and the threat of terrorism remain potent problems for the United States, which just months ago had its consulate in Benghazi overrun and which is now helping France try to root out Islamists in Mali.
But as Obama busies himself with his domestic agenda, terrorism does not seem to be figuring prominently in his thinking.
Instead, Obama sought in his address to impress upon America’s enemies that, effectively, We come in peace:
A decade of war is now ending . . . We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.
While the White House has continued to track and kill terrorists around the world, Obama’s policies and methods may also be laying the groundwork for another attack on the United States.
By choosing to kill terrorists with drones instead of capture and subject them to tough interrogations, the administration may be losing a chance to pick up crucial information. The interrogations of captured terrorists during the Bush years, while raising concerns about whether captives were tortured, nevertheless yielded critical details that prevented future attacks.
What’s more, some believe the continued use of drones radicalizes local populations.
Meanwhile, the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the increasingly rapid departure from Afghanistan deprives America of longstanding sources of data about terrorist activities.
That Obama would minimize the threat in his speech suggests that, eleven years after 9/11, the White House may be taking its eye off the ball.