Obama’s Oval Office Address

By: Kara Haselton

This past Sunday night, November 6th, President Obama gave a speech regarding the recent terrorist attacks occurring around the world. He specifically addressed the attack that occurred last week in San Bernardino, California, and for the first time, addressed it as a terrorist attack. For the rest of the speech, he reminded the American people of the ongoing war against terrorism that was initiated after 9/11.

He reassured the viewers by saying, “The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL* and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.”

President Obama clarified and reminded the viewers of his plan for defeating ISIS, ISIL– one that included working with many different countries, like France, Germany, and the UK, to uproot ISIS. The US military will hunt down terrorists internationally and continue to provide training and aid to Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIS. He also addressed gun control, stating his wish to ensure “no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun.”

In addition, President Obama reiterated his desire to revise and “put in place stronger screening” for those who try to come into the country without a visa to see if they are affiliated with any terrorist groups or have been to a country where ISIS is at war. He further explained that his goal is to not be drawn into a ground war with ISIS in Iraq or Syria, as ISIS would then be able to take advantage of our troops and resources, negatively affecting our country.

One of the last points he discussed was to make clear that ISIS is in no way representative of the Muslim community, and we, as Americans, should not discriminate against Muslims because of the horrendous acts ISIS has  committed. Not only that, but Obama specifically addressed the Muslim community and encouraged them to counter the radical and incorrect ideology ISIS promotes.  

President Obama addresses how we should respond to Muslims: “ISIL does not speak for Islam… and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology… It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose.”

President Obama’s speech could prove to be a significant moment in the future of the war against terrorism. His speech was undeniably important considering it was only Obama’s third address made in the Oval Office to the nation. This is the first speech Obama has given during his presidential term that is directly focused on the war against terrorism. It could change how Americans view Muslims, and remind people that people should not be judged based off of acts committed by others in their culture. It could turn out to be the kind of speech we read about in history books, likely changing the future of international relations – whether for the better or worse.

*ISIL is another term for ISIS. It stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is a broader region in the Middle East.