Mark Landler of the NY Times looks at Obama's many pretty words on national security and comes away scratching their heads:
In Obama’s Speeches, a Shifting Tone on Terror
By MARK LANDLER MAY 31, 2014WASHINGTON — Few leaders place more weight than President Obama on the power of the spoken word to clarify a messy world. But after five and a half years and dozens of speeches — most recently at West Point last week — the trail of Mr. Obama’s pronouncements has grown muddier. Speaking to cadets at the United States Military Academy, Mr. Obama said, “For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America, at home and abroad, remains terrorism.” A year ago, speaking at the National Defense University here, the president said of the post-9/11 war on terrorism, “this war, like all wars, must end.”
Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 2009, Mr. Obama said, “There will be times when nations, acting individually or in concert, will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.” On Wednesday at West Point, he said, “Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences.”By themselves, these statements are not contradictory. And White House officials insist that the policies laid out in his speeches, whether on the use of force or the nature of the terrorist threat, are rigorously consistent. But Mr. Obama’s tone has shifted radically, depending on his audience and the context. Taken together, the speeches offer a portrait of a president whose ambivalence about the wisdom of military action has only deepened since he took office, even as his view of the world’s dangers has darkened.
The trouble is that a shrunken vision does not make for inspiring oratory. Mr. Obama’s instinct when he gets into a difficult situation has always been to deliver a speech. Some experts said he might be better off not giving one for a while.
Two and half more years of golden silence? We should be so lucky.