Analysis: US Abandoning the War on Terrorism


war-on-terrorBy Yaakov Kornreich

No, this headline is not a mistake. If only it were.

Please follow this closely, because the logic behind the statements of US policy in this story is a little hard to accept. But this is what happened, what was said, and who said it. We are not making this up.

This is about President Obama’s redefinition of President Bush’s war on terrorism. In fact, that war is now officially over, and according to Obama, it was all probably a mistake to begin with. According to Obama’s chief expert on counterterrorism, the United States is no longer at war with Islamic terrorists around the world. We are only at war with al Qaeda and its terrorist allies who directly attack the United States homeland. (Note to Hamas and Hezbollah: all is forgiven.)

Also, for those of you who weren’t paying close attention, this is not news. According to a White House budget office memo, the phrase “global war on terrorism” became obsolete back in March.

I know. I missed it, too.

Second, we are no longer at war against Muslims who are fighting a “jihad” (holy war). According to Obama’s advisor, the US government has now officially redefined the term jihad to mean “to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal,” even if, in real life, Muslim clerics tell their followers that it is a “moral goal” to shoot or blow up innocent civilians, including women and children, and to wipe Israel off the map.

Finally, his advisor claims that “President Obama has confronted this perception [that the United States is somehow at war with Islam itself] directly and forcefully in his speeches to Muslim audiences, declaring that America is not and never will be at war with Islam.”

Does that mean that we are now all friends, and let bygones be bygones?


The truth is that the Muslims really don’t care how the US government defines their religion or jihad. The attempt by Obama and his advisor to impose their own simplistic thinking on the theological definitions of one of the world’s major religions can only be described as a breathtaking act of hubris.

In fact, it is painfully obvious that many if not most Muslims in the Middle East have been practicing a much more aggressive definition of jihad than the one that Obama and his advisor have anointed as Islam’s true standard.

According to Barry Rubin, the director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, “almost every influential, publicly active Islamic cleric [in the Middle East] defines murdering Israelis as appropriate jihad. A very large number, probably a majority define killing Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq as proper Jihad.”


Now for a little background. The advisor’s name is John O. Brennan, and he serves in the Obama White House as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism. The post is the highest that any White House staffer can hold, and as a practical matter, Brennan directs this country’s counter-terrorism efforts.

On paper, Brennan seems to be well qualified for the job. A 25-year career analyst for the CIA, he served as its Chief of Station for the Middle East from 1996-1999. He also served as the political officer at the US embassy in Saudi Arabia. He was CIA Director George Tenet’s chief of staff, before becoming the first director of the National Counterterrorism Center after its creation by the Bush administration in 2004.

Since 2007, Brennan has served as the Chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. He was Obama’s chief advisor on terrorism during the 2008 presidential campaign. Initially, Brennan was believed to have been Obama’s pick to become Director of the CIA, until his candidacy was derailed by critics from the left wing of the Democrat party, who claimed that he was too involved in Bush’s post-9/11 terrorist detention and harsh interrogation policies. Brennan complained at the time that his critics were misinformed.

The directorship of the CIA ultimately went to former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, but Brennan has remained Obama’s chief advisor on terrorism and counter-terrorism issues in the White House.


Brennan is one of the few senior officials in the Obama White House with long practical experience in the worlds of spycraft and intelligence. While his opinion is influential on those matters, it does not always prevail. For example, Brennan is known to have opposed Obama’s decision to declassify the Bush administration legal opinions that authorized harsh CIA interrogations.

Brennan apparently enjoys a good working relationship with CIA Director Panetta, who told the Los Angeles Times, “John understands how intelligence and policy support one another — that’s a major asset. He is a vital link between the CIA and the National Security Council (NSC).”

“His portfolio is growing, not shrinking,” said Mark Lippert, the chief of staff for the National Security Council, which is run by National Security Adviser James Jones. “He has the president’s trust. . . Folks from all parts of the policy and intelligence community respect him,” Lippert said.


The statements at the top of this article about the changes in US counter-terrorism policy are all based on direct quotes from an address Brennan made to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC earlier this month, and in an interview with the Washington Post.

In order to allay any suspicion that we are taking his words out of context, we are including extensive direct quotes from the official transcript.

Speaking to the CSIS, Brennan went into great detail explaining what he said were the “five key elements” of President Obama’s “new and more effective approach to the long-term obligation of safeguarding the American people.

“First, and perhaps most significantly, the fight against terrorists and violent extremists has been returned to its right and proper place, no longer defining, indeed distorting, our entire national security and foreign policy, but rather serving as a vital part of those larger policies. . .

“Rather than looking at allies and other nations through the narrow prism of terrorism, whether they are with us or against us, the administration is now engaging other countries and people across a broader range of areas. . .

“At the same time, terrorism is recognized as one of the many transnational challenges the world will face in the 21st century. We saw this in [Obama’s] speech in Cairo, where he spoke of a broader engagement with the world’s Muslims, including the issues important to them – education, public health, economic development, responsive governance and women’s rights.

“Indeed, it was telling that the president was actually criticized in certain quarters in this country for not using words like terror, terrorist and terrorism in that speech. This goes to the heart of this new approach. Why should a great and powerful nation like the United States allow its relationship with more than a billion Muslims around the world be defined by the narrow hatred and nihilistic actions of an exceptionally small minority of Muslims?”


The second “key element” in Obama’s new approach to the terrorist threat is linguistic. According to Brennan, “How you define a problem shapes how you address it. As many have noted, the president does not describe this as a “war on terrorism.” That is because terrorism is but a tactic – a means to an end – which, in al-Qaeda’s case, is global domination by an Islamic caliphate.

“Confusing ends and means is dangerous, because by focusing on the tactic, we risk floundering among the terrorist trees while missing the growth of the extremist forest. And ultimately, confusing ends and means is self-defeating, because you can never fully defeat a tactic like terrorism any more than you can defeat a tactic of war itself. Likewise, the president does not describe this as a ‘global war.'”

It was at this point in his presentation that Brennan offered the Obama administration’s redefinition of the term jihad, as quoted at the beginning of this story.


The third key element of Obama’s new approach to terrorism, according to Brennan, is “a broader, more accurate understanding of the causes and conditions that help fuel violent extremism, be they in Pakistan and Afghanistan or Somalia and Yemen.” But why did he not also include, Israel, the West Bank or Gaza?

He explained this element more clearly in his Washington Post interview, when he said, “We are not saying that poverty causes terrorism, or disenfranchisement causes terrorism, but we can’t mistake there are certain phenomena that contribute to it. Terrorism needs to be fought against and certainly delegitimized or attacked, but some of the underlying grievances that might in fact lead individuals astray to terrorism cannot be ignored.”

He also told his CSIS audience that, “We cannot shoot ourselves out of this challenge. We can take out all the terrorists we want – their leadership and their foot soldiers – but if we fail to confront the broader political, economic and social conditions under which extremists thrive, then there will always be another recruit in the pipeline, another attack coming downstream. . .”

In other words, according to Brennan, there is no point in fighting terror because you can’t win with military force alone.


He continues:

“This is why the president’s approach includes a critical fourth element – the recognition that addressing these upstream factors is ultimately not a military operation, but a political, economic and social campaign to meet the basic needs and legitimate grievances of ordinary people – security for their communities, education for their children, a job and income for parents and a sense of dignity and worth.”

Note that when Brennan tells us to give in to their demands, he does not define what a “legitimate grievance” for a terrorist might be. One could interpret his words to mean that a Palestinian terrorist fighting a “jihad” may have a “legitimate grievance” at the fact that there is any Jew left alive in Eretz Yisroel, and no doubt many terrorists do.

He also says that, “even as we condemn and oppose the illegitimate tactics used by terrorists, we need to acknowledge and address the legitimate needs and grievances of ordinary people those terrorists claim to represent, which leads to the fifth and final part of the president’s approach – integrating every element of American power to ensure that those upstream factors discourage rather than encourage violent extremism. . .

“That is why the administration is aggressively pursuing negotiations to achieve the goal of two states – Israel and Palestine – living side-by-side in peace and security.”


Following his address to the CSIS, Brennan took questions from the audience. A reporter from The Nation magazine asked how the Obama administration views its relationship with Hamas and Hezbollah. Again, what follows is a direct quote of the question and answer, and a follow-up.

Question: “We’ve discussed this in the past, and you’ve suggested that it might be possible to have a dialogue with Hamas and Hezbollah. . . So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about disaggregating these movements, which the Bush administration was so prone to rolling up into one, big Islamo-fascist ball of wax. Talk a little bit about how we could deal with some of the other formations that exist and whether or not it might be prudent to start talking to them, now.”

BRENNAN: “Well, the two cases that you give, Hamas and Hezbollah, are interesting case studies. Hezbollah started out as purely a terrorist organization back in the early ’80s and has evolved significantly over time. And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hezbollah organization.

“However, within Hezbollah, there’s still a terrorist core. And hopefully those elements within the Shia community in Lebanon and within Hezbollah at large – they’re going to continue to look at that extremist terrorist core as being something that is anathema to what, in fact, they’re trying to accomplish in terms of their aspirations about being part of the political process in Lebanon. And so, quite frankly, I’m pleased to see that a lot of Hezbollah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion.

“Hamas, on the other hand, started out as a very focused social organization that was providing welfare to Palestinians, primarily in Gaza. Over time, it developed an extremist and terrorist element to it that, I think, has unfortunately delegitimized it in the eyes of many, not just throughout the world, but also in the territories. And its continued embrace of violence and terrorism is something that the Palestinian people, I think, have to continue to tell Hamas leaders that this is not going to bring them what they truly deserve, which is a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel.


“So you’re absolutely correct. There are a number of different organizations that have both political and terrorist dimensions to it. Unfortunately, it’s the terrorist dimension that, as I pointed out in my remarks, really holds the aspirations of the people. There are disenfranchised Shia within Lebanon that Hezbollah is trying to represent. But they’re doing it in a corrupted and twisted manner. They’re not going to help to realize those aspirations of the Shia people if they continue to embrace that violence – same thing with Hamas. And I think these aspirations of the people need to be realized, and it’s not going to be through the terrorist agenda.

Question: “So what do we do? What is America’s role?”

BRENNAN: “I think what we’ve done is to demonstrate both in Lebanon and to the Palestinians that we, the United States, are willing to engage and have a dialogue with any organizations or groups that are, in fact, dedicated to realizing peaceful solutions to existing problems. And I think those elements within Lebanon, be they Hezbollah or others, know that the United States has tried to be a very honest broker there, providing support to Lebanese institutions.

“And those who shun and eschew that terrorism will, in fact, gain favor with the United States. The same thing in the Palestinian community – those Palestinians that are really going to ensure that they pursue a path towards peace that does not bring terrorism to bear are going to be partners with the United States.”


Barry Rubin says that Brennan’s response has revealed him to be an apologist for Hezbollah. Rubin also challenges the accuracy of Brennan’s statement that any active member of Hezbollah has renounced its “terrorism and violence” and that “using Iranian money to buy votes and threats of mayhem to keep people from criticizing them” can be defined as participating in the Lebanese political process “in a very legitimate fashion.”     

Rubin is equally critical of Obama’s June 4 Cairo speech, in which he accuses the US president of trying “to whitewash the history and practices of Islamic polities and peoples completely.” It is part of a broader formulation which Rubin calls a “counter-terrorist isolationist policy, which sends the message [to terrorists] that you can attack anyone but the United States, and we will not view you as full enemies.”

He points out that this new, much narrower formulation of US anti-terrorism policy has a sobering message to US allies, including Israel. It is: “if your people are blown up at a theater or gunned down at a school or if someone explodes a bomb on an airliner full of passengers, you better hope that you can link the group responsible to al-Qaeda or forget about getting strong US support.”


Incredibly, much of these statements went unreported in the mainstream American media. The headlines coming out of Brennan’s speech and interview dealt primarily with his outspoken criticisms of the Bush administration counter-terrorism policies. Brennan deplored them as an affront to American values, damaging to the nation’s security and creating a “global war” mind-set that served only to “validate Al Qaeda’s twisted worldview.”

Brennan also denounced the CIA’s use during the Bush administration of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation measures, with which his liberal critics tried to associate him. Such methods, he said, serve only as “a recruitment bonanza for terrorists, increase the determination of our enemies and decrease the willingness of other nations to cooperate with us.”


Obama’s new, much narrower, counter-terrorism policy as defined by Brennan, in many ways, tries to turn back the clock to before the 9/11 attacks. It denies the reality of the harsh face of Islamic terrorism which has been revealed to us all since then.

We cannot excuse Obama’s tolerance for jihad terrorism by suggesting that it serves legitimate “moral goals,” or on the basis of tolerance for cultural diversity or religious expression. Nothing justifies the deliberate murder of innocents.

Neither is it legitimate for US leaders to make up their own convenient definitions of jihad. If I were a Muslim, I would be insulted. I would tell Obama and Brennan that, “I have my own religious authorities whom I follow in that regard, thank you very much!”

Using linguistics to avoid unpleasant truths, Brennan’s second “key element,” is more than just mistaken. It is arrogant and dangerous.

Brennan’s third “key element,” arguing that terrorism is the end result of poor economic, social and political conditions, is also dishonest, for two reasons. First, if that were true, we would see the same scourge of terrorism in non-Muslim countries where those same conditions exist as well,  but we do not.

Second, we know that Osama bin Laden and his top al Qaeda lieutenants, as well as the Muslim doctors who launched two terrorist attacks in Great Britain in 2007, and many other terrorists who were responsible for heinous attacks, were well-educated and socially privileged, rather than deprived. That theory was discredited years ago.


By reviving that myth, Obama is once again trying to blame the victim of terrorism, in this case, the United States, by imagining that it is our failure to wipe out poverty and injustice around the world that is responsible for creating terrorism. It is a revival of the old radical-liberal America-hating attitudes of the ’60s, and it is just as wrong today as it was then.

As we saw in his June 4 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, Obama is obsessed with apologizing for this country’s imagined sins, rather than doing his duty as president by aggressively defending it against its enemies and detractors, and holding it up to the rest of the world as a shining example of freedom, democracy and individual opportunity.

Our only hope in the face of such blindness is to pray to Hashem to protect this country and Eretz Yisroel from its sworn enemies. 

 {This article originally appeared in Yated Ne’eman}


  1. Ditto to #1, but enough people did. Excellent, if horrifying, analysis. People are beginning to “chap” that Mr. Obama is not so good at this President thing. And nothing to do about it until 2012. On my to-do list: get passports for the kids.

  2. I guess I beat you to that. I got a passport for my kid when I got this bad feeling for this guy. Now I need to work on getting one for my newborn.

  3. If you want to understand how liberal ideologists think, read the book “United In Hate” The Left’s Romance With Tyranny & Terror. By: Jamie Glazov.

    However, the Obama problem is much worse than that. In the Muslim world, the word ‘Takiya’ is an allowance for followers of Islam to use deception in the name of their cultist and ‘bi-polar’ founder’s deity. Obama seems to be well versed in that type of double-speak.

    For instance, giving a speech about an ‘undivided Jerusalem’ to a Jewish audience to thundering applause and standing ovations – then, a few days later, clarifying his statement on TV as meaning ‘no chain-link fence’ to a primarily liberal and pro-Palestinian audience.

    To this day, not one journalist has asked Obama to explain his support for Raila Odinga, his cousin in Kenya. This resulted in many deaths, intimidation and blatant terrorism.

    There are many Jewish-Americans that have fallen under Obama’s spell and have not been willing to look at the evidence. Here we are 200 days into his presidency, and all we can see is an amazing betrayal of American and Judeo-Christian ideals, in favor of a white flag surrender to Islam.

    The myth that the American media is ruled by Jews has been replaced with the reality that they are influenced greatly by liberal and secular progressive ideas planted in their heads by our own universities. But the real control of the media seems to come from much higher up: Ownership of all of our media outlets seems to be in the hands of globalist bankers. They are not interested in politics or religion. They tell the media what they can and cannot talk about.

    Witness the media’s failure to report or even discuss Obama’s Kenyan Birth Certificate, posted by Orly Taitz on the web on August 2, 2009!

    Brennan is just one more of the bought-and-paid-for corrupt officials that Obama has been so successful at recruiting. All of Obama’s so-called Czars answer only to him and not to the American people.

    Rahm Emmanuel is more of an enigma to me. I would love for someone to explain to me how he fits into all this.