In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that claimed the lives of 14 people, President Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office tonight to discuss terrorism the security of our nation. But the question remains: Exactly what will Obama talk about during his Oval Office speech? Based on a statement on WhiteHouse.gov, President Obama “will provide an update on the ongoing investigation into the tragic attack in San Bernardino. He will also discuss the broader threat of terrorism — including the nature of the threat, how it has evolved, and how we will defeat it.”
During Sunday's address, President Obama will once again assert the need for the dismantling of the Islamic State, which is currently at the root of many recent headlines, including the violence in Syria and subsequent refugee crisis, the terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris, and the downing of a Russian plane over Egypt, all in the past few months. While ISIS/ISIL has yet to officially claim responsibility for the San Bernardino attack, many of their supporters have praised the tragedy on Twitter. A radio broadcast by the group solidified this connection by asking their supporters to honor the attackers as “martyrs.”
This is President Obama’s first Oval Office address since 2010 and only the third in his entire presidency. The last two addresses involved the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
There is a lot of speculation out there as to what the particular points of tonight’s speech will entail, and what President Obama should address.
Adopting An “All Hazards” Approach
CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayem discusses the ways in which our nation responds to terrorism. While much of the attention in the past has gone into finding ways to prevent attacks (the “Never Again” approach), she discusses the successes of using an “After the Boom” or “All Hazards” approach, which focuses on how quickly we respond to these attacks. That includes how fast first responders can get civilians to safety and also how prepared nearby hospitals are so they are better able to save the lives of the injured. She suggests that President Obama focus at least part of his address toward this more comprehensive approach to the growing threat of terrorism.
Addressing The Complexity Of Under-The-Radar Terrorist Attacks
Director for the Center of Security Studies Bruce Hoffman tells the Wall Street Journal about the added complexity that attacks like the one perpetrated by Syed Rizwad Farook and Tashfeen Malik create when it comes to tracking potential terrorist threats. “When you have a husband and wife team who self-radicalize one another, you’ve not got an added layer of complexity. Not only is there no communication to track, but it becomes impossible to predict where the next threat is coming from.”
He also hypothesizes that ISIS' current strategy may involve finding ways to exhaust law enforcement and intelligence with “low-level threats... so then the more professional terrorists can then slip in beneath the radar.” It’s possible the President will touch on new steps being taken to uncover these types of terrorists.
A Call For Increased Gun Control
Shortly after the attack in San Bernadino, President Obama once again made a call for increased gun control. It’s more likely than ever that the president will use his address to reiterate the facts that, much like the New York Times pointed out in a front page editorial this past Friday, we are in the midst of a serious gun epidemic. It’s even possible that the President will go as far as the NYT did in labeling all the recent gun violence (even that not associated with radical muslims) as terrorism. Considering that the couple responsible for the holiday party attack were armed with “2,000 9-millimeter handgun rounds, 2,500 .223-caliber rifle rounds and ‘hundreds of tools’ that could have been used to make explosive devices,” and that their entire arsenal was obtained legally, it would be an excellent time to raise this debate once more.
The U.S. Strategy To Combat ISIS
With tensions heating up in Syria and surrounding nations, it’s important to know and understand as citizens of this country how much involvement we will have in combating ISIS/ISIL. The president says that “ISIL will be destroyed” using our nation’s values of equality, justice, and freedom, but what does this mean in terms of security and defense? The bulk of Sunday's address will surely involve the current and potential strategy regarding the war in Syria. The U.S. have already conducted airstrikes and sent ground troops into Syria. Sunday's address may give us insight into whether we will be sending more, and when it will occur.
President Obama’s oval office address will air Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on various networks as well as online here.
Image: Chip Somodevilla, Joe Raedle, David McNew, Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty