President Obama gave a rare speech from the Oval Office on Sunday evening as he sought to reassure Americans in the aftermath of the December 2nd shooting massacre in San Bernardino, California that the threat of terrorism is real but it will be overcome.
Although the 2 attackers who went on a shooting spree and killed 14 innocent Americans on December 2nd were not members of Islamic State and there is no indication yet of a cell or network, both of them had become radicalized by Islamic ideology during a recent trip to the Middle East and one of them, Tashfeen Malik, pledged allegiance to the leader of Islamic State.
A recent poll from Washington Post/ABC News released on November 20th after the Islamic terrorist attack in Paris and sampled on November 16-19th among a random sample of 1,004 adults revealed that 59 percent of polled Americans claims that the U.S. is at war with “radical” Islam.
Seventy two percent of Americans say its more important to investigate possible terror threats, even if it means intruding on personal privacy which is up 15 points from its post 9/11 low in July 2013.
Fifty-four percent disapprove of President Obama’s handling of terrorism in general, up 9 points to the worst rating on terrorism in his career while fifty seven percent disapprove of his handling of Islamic State.
Sixty percent support the increased use of ground forces against ISIS.
Less than half, forty-five percent of polled Americans are confident in the government’s ability to prevent further terrorist attacks in the U.S.
President Obama said during his speech on Sunday night that “we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and drawing upon every aspect of American power” and then explained in 4 steps how the U.S. plans to pursue its objective of defeating terrorism.
Here are the 4 steps that Obama outlined:
1. The U.S. military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary. Obama said that U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have taken out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, and infrastructure and pointed out that Western partners including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have increased their contributions to the military campaign.
2. The U.S. will continue to provide training and equipment tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIS on the ground.
3. The U.S. will continue to work with friends and allies to stop ISIS’s operations, cut off their financing, and prevent further recruiting. Obama explained that since the Paris attacks, there has been a surge in intelligence sharing with European allies, closer work with Turkey to close its border with Syria, and cooperation with Muslim majority countries to counter ISIS ideology.
4. American leadership and the international community has started a process and timeline to pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the war in Syria.
Obama said there are several steps that Congress should take right away including making sure that no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun, making it more difficult for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino, and implementing stronger screening measures for those who come to America without a visa.
Calling ISIS a “death cult” that doesn’t speak for Islam, Obama emphasized that they account for only a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world, including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology.
“Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we always have met challenges- whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks- by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, one people” Obama said.
Obama emphasized that just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out their misguided ideas it is the responsibility of all Americans to reject discrimination and to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should be treated differently.