Not his actual remarks, just what he should have said.
I come before you the American people tonight, after 6 years in office as your president to ask for a declaration of war.
Let me begin by saying The American people are not a war like people.
The American people dislike war, don’t easily tolerate American involvement in war and generally punish Presidents like myself, who either engage in conflicts and/or expand them.
Even the great Franklin Roosevelt, simply couldn’t get America away from her deep and traditional fear of foreign involvement and entry into the exploding world war, against an obviously true evil, until after Pearl Harbor.
Roosevelt understood this primal isolationist streak in the American people, it’s why he ran on a peace platform, while simultaneously crafting Lend-Lease, and also blocking oil and scrap metal shipments to Japan; actions he knew full well would probably suck our country into that conflict.
A balancing act like President Roosevelt’s is necessary here in the U.S. because the will of the American people is an all-powerful force, even while vacillating. Some people will mistakenly construe that remark, after this broadcast, as me blaming the electorate. That would be false.
The electorate, as I am, are torn over the correct path forward.
In Russia, Ukraine must be supported both militarily and financially, without starting a land war that breaks out further. Germany, France, Denmark, and all our close European allies are watching this situation — as we are — and are contributing to a fast response mobilizing force.
The leaders of those great countries are also meeting with President Putin this week to see if this can’t end a better way. I want them to succeed and I will give them the appropriate room to conduct those negotiations. Neither appeasement nor a rush to war satisfies me nor do I think either of those two options satisfies the will of the American people either.
That will is a force that drives decisions here at home, which in turn drive world events, for better or worse. That’s the part most countries and their populations don’t get. Just because there are stupid swaggering bullies who regularly appear in the media here — wearing the stars and stripes and calling for war — doesn’t mean the vast majority of Americans think like that.
The vast majority of Americans are and always have been, isolationists and peace loving people. Maybe it was our beloved George Washington’s warning against foreign entanglements or maybe it’s inherent in our collective DNA, but for whatever the reason, the American people still fear those entanglements.
We need to self-examine that fear and the rationale behind it as we contemplate a much larger role militarily in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and Afghanistan.
The American people are thinking about this problem beyond the drone war stage in Syria and ISIS controlled territories and also increasing our commitment to Afghanistan while also increasing our support to Ukraine with weaponry and cash because at the moment, they simply have no choice.
The ISIL army is running rough shod over people, civilization itself, history and their own religion, growing as a regional threat day by day, while hundreds of trucks, tanks and armor pieces continue to roll into Ukraine, where Russian backed separatists have been grabbing huge chunks of ground. The American people see this for what is, naked aggression that doesn’t even make sense, but has to be dealt with nonetheless.
I was elected promising to get our troops out of that troubled region, and I fully intended to do that. Some of my critics have labeled that as naïve. I think you, the American people understand. The American people are reluctant to fight, reluctant to commit our brave men and women to further carnage, reluctant to spend our most precious treasure on wars with no point.
.“What’s wrong with an America—“, every loving mother asks, “–Reluctant to join the military battles in foreign lands?”
“What’s wrong with letting foreign populations fight their own battles for freedom, power sharing and self-determination?” most Republicans would ask.
“Imposing democracy and American values, not to mention economic structures, has completely failed as foreign policy, has it not?” a majority of Democrat’s in my own party have asked me.
We also did it our own way here in the United States as we were formed and that worked out great, why can’t we just let that natural process unfold around the world, like the color revolutions in eastern Europe appeared to be doing, and allow the world outside of the U.S. to right itself?
Well intentioned Americans ask these questions and one more important one, adding:
By what right do we as Americans have to preach to other cultures about what their values, economic structures and governmental systems should look like, when we have such serious domestic issues it’s obvious we don’t operate with any secret or special formula?
I need to answer that question for you tonight before I can ask you and the Congress of the United States for that declaration of war. I need to answer it completely and honestly and I intend to do it right now.
The reason is quite simple, although we still don’t want to face this fundamental truth as a nation. The oceans, which protected America from the rest of the world for over 200 years, don’t accomplish that anymore.
The world isn’t a little smaller now — it’s a lot smaller.
Things that go wrong outside of American borders eventually go wrong here as well.
The twin towers were in the middle of New York City.
That was a horrible but singular blow to the country, the absolute truth is, we were very lucky that day. The damage could have been a lot worse. It would be irresponsible to describe how, but if you think about this a little, you can envision what I mean.
Why wasn’t it worse on 9-11? A big part of the reason, is the kind of world America purposely constructed at the end of WWII, a more united, interconnected and interdependent world where trade, finance, manufacturing and politics are all intertwined. The kind of world my administration has been committed to building every since I’ve been here in Washington.
If you think ISIL is a horrible problem, think instead about refighting the Japanese, the Italians or the Germans at the same time. Today those countries are all strong allies of the United States.
ISIL just looks like an insurmountable problem. I called them the JV team and that was a mistake. But fighting an angry Japan or Germany again, would be what a real problem looks like. ISIL isn’t even the biggest problem we have in the world. Imagine Iran with a nuclear bomb.
I’ve been working hard with our negotiators to try and stop that nightmare. I give the American people my word, the Israeli people my word, Prime Minister Netanyahu my word and the Jewish community in every corner of the world my word, we will not negotiate a deal with the Iranians that allows for the production of a nuclear bomb.
Technology makes it possible today for despots and dictators, to threaten the lives of millions. Simply put, the drive to split political power from the sole possession of these despots and dictators, and share it with the people is still so new, it has to finish playing out in every different corner of the world and the United States cannot sit on the sideline, naively believing that isolation from that process is either wise or will actually protect America.
Neither is true.
The idea that democracy itself is a value not all cultures share or can manage is a monstrous, murderous lie told by those who would steal that thunderous power for themselves.
Religious power and political power, even when co-mingled in a single entity temporarily are not the same thing. Any other view is naive and thoroughly discredited by history.
But helping others should never be the primary reason for engagement and I’m not here tonight asking you to engage to help others. That would be a lie, we need to be honest and open about the fact that I am asking Congress for permission to fully engage because it’s the safest thing to do for America.
The Marshall Plan rebuilt Germany and Japan because we are safer here in the U.S. — this way, with them rebuilt, prospering, self-governing and friendly toward the U.S. That process must happen eventually with every square inch on the face of the planet until every man woman and child, breathes free air — uncontaminated by tyranny, religious or political suppression, or the horrors of subjugation by violence.
Protecting ourselves isn’t just a right today; it’s an obligation we owe to future Americans. Every single war we fight in a foreign land, no matter how bad it goes, is universally better than one we fight on your own soil.
Most of the times it’s not a choice about whether to fight — in the long run — it just turns out to be about whether you do it on foreign soil first, or wait, and then do it here.
I’ll put our American values, our belief in these inalienable rights that include freedom of worship, freedom of expression and freedom to choose our laws and leaders — none of which are offered today to the people under ISIS rule — in a winner take all battle, up against; ISIL, Hitler, Hirohito, Mao, Stalin, Mussolini, Bin laden, Assad, Khomeini and Khamenei, etc., all day long.
We also need to engage militarily at this time because it’s the moral thing to do.
We need to engage because building peaceful world partners, even if it initially involves war, pain and suffering, economic hardship and even takes a step back or two here and there; is the only long-term path to a world Americans themselves will be happy and safe in.
So why then have I been so cautious? Because I didn’t think I could take these actions without giving less serious alternatives a chance, without the situation itself escalating and finally, without making the case described here tonight, much more clearly to the American people before acting.
Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower didn’t just win WWII as war decision makers; they were leaders that announced and explained to the world what they were attempting to do — not just win a war, but also win a lasting peace.
The ones who rush to war or start war are never the ones who can build the lasting peace.
We are not a war-like people subjugating a minority population with our false values because they have a different culture we don’t understand.
That line is the propaganda mask of just another mullah or military dictator using religion and nationalism to hide stealing the power, the wealth, and the very lives of people whose civil rights we cherish as fellow human beings, although they’re not Americans.
This is not false nation building or American imperialism at work here no matter what Putin or others may claim, I believe America has not just the right but also the obligation to build nations up and out of the chaos that results from war with us. The people on the ground at the end of wars, hungry, lives destroyed, homes and towns shattered, family members missing, these people didn’t war on America, their leaders did, and to punish them for these mistakes is to sow the seeds of 500 hundred more wars.
We can’t, shouldn’t, and hopefully won’t fail to make that point this time.
Provided Congress authorizes these actions I plan to join the King of Jordan and our other partners in the Middle East in shamelessly hunting down these neo-Nazi’s, killing or capturing them, and then imposing a new system on the surviving population that forbids virtually every nasty thing they’re doing today from Sharia Law, to the beheading of women and children, and possibly even the construction of mosques — if that is determined to be necessary.
Many people accept that I am prepared to make war on this area but repel instantly at the thought of blocking the future construction of mosques.
I want to be clear on this, I am not against the Muslim religion, I believe it to be a peaceful religion that has been bastardized by killers, as have many faiths and ideologies have seen through the long lens of history. That doesn’t change the facts on the ground however that many of the mosques’s in this troubled region, and a minority around the world, form a network around which the jihadist and Islamist terrorist organizations in the world today — all revolve.
People can worship in their homes (I’m not saying I’d outlaw religion in these areas, just block the use of mosques as terrorist recruitment, training and ideology centers. If that’s what it takes to pacify a war-like minority of the population and preventing them from killing the remaining portion, so be it.
The U.S. outlawed the Nazi party in Germany after WWII, and if Hitler had churches standing at wars end, dedicated to his worship, we would have knocked those down or converted them to other use. This isn’t discrimination, unconstitutional, imperialistic or cruel; it’s common sense.
I’m asking Congress for permission to wage war against ISIS which I intend to do until the State Department and the Pentagon complete a new political plan, a new security plan, and a new economic plan for the region that includes a new regional cooperation plan with Jordan and Iraq’s remaining neighbors. I expect to put all that in place during this mission, before leaving office.
The old plan didn’t work, it’s that simple and now I’m going to try something America has done before with success, impose order on this region, allowing civil rights and limited self-governance until things are stabilized.
This is, like every war action any president takes, my last resort, a product of a failed process to prevent war, and an unfortunate blow. This war is also what I have to do when I look at the action reports concerning what’s happening there. I don’t have to repeat it for you tonight, it’s barbaric, inhumane and indiscriminate. I do thereby officially request from Congress, permission to use U.S. military forces to pursue the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant or ISIS, until unconditional victory.
Good night, God bless you, and may peace return quickly to the United States of America and every corner of the world.