A year ago this week, President Barack Obama spoke at the National Defense University, where he laid out a vision for how the United States would—slowly—move away from the paradigm of war in confronting the threat posed by terrorism. Every war America has fought, Obama reminded us, has come to an end. So must the war footing, if not the struggle, against global terrorism.
What’s happened since then?
The State Department’s annual assessment of terrorist networks says terrorist attacks on Americans have continued to decline, with just 16 U.S. citizen fatalities last year. U.S. drone strikes targeting terrorists have also declined in both Pakistan and Yemen, and the rate of civilian casualties has apparently declined in Pakistan. With additional flexibility from Congress, the Obama administration has made slow progress on its pledge to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, transferring 10 detainees and securing an offer last week from Uruguay to accept six more. With combat operations in Afghanistan scheduled to end in December, it seems possible to imagine, for the first time in more than a decade, a world in which the U.S. is not at war.