NR Digital

The Week

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The IRS is targeting people who make Obama look bad. Eric Holder, call your accountant.

President Obama’s sprawling and frequently tedious National Defense University speech was long on hope but comparatively short on change, more scholastic navel-gazing than articulation of new policy. Some of what Mr. Obama sold as new strategy is in fact a mere shift in verbiage. After the president renounced the idea of a “boundless ‘global war on terror,’” for instance, he went on to outline an alternative that is just the G.W.O.T. by another name. On Guantanamo Bay, the president did call for real change, but change unlikely to occur any time soon. His promise to close the prison is as empty now as it was in 2009, a truth reflected in the president’s admission that Congress still wields the power to block wholesale detainee transfers — which it did, in bipartisan fashion, the last time his administration tried this maneuver. At a time when an unacceptably high number of detainees released from Cuba return to terror, we should not entertain closing the prison as a public-relations stunt or an exercise in collective catharsis. We should consider closing it when there are no longer enough jihadists to fill it. Elsewhere, the speech was more mixed, which is to say, better. We were cheered by the president’s explicit defense of the drone program as proportional, legal, and just (though not by the unrealistic standards of certainty he claimed would guide future strikes), and we agree that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force needs updating. But on balance, the speech is of a piece with the troubling regression of the president’s already flawed foreign policy, away from a view of the world as it is and back to a view of the world as Barack Obama wishes it were.