“This war will take many turns we cannot predict,”

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Thread from Allison:

In 2002, President George W. Bush delivered a speech to the graduating class of West Point wherein he encouraged their potential yet warned of the grave dangers facing the post-9/11 world. The uncertainty felt by many Americans was echoed within the president’s remarks [i]. Despite the fear of the unknown, President Bush informed the graduates and their families that the U.S. would not sit idly by and wait for the next attack to occur. The nation’s military offensive strategy was outlined, as the president spoke of the need to face the enemy head-on [ii]. The president concluded his speech by encouraging the cadets to use their skills and knowledge for the good of the nation.
In President Obama’s 2011 speech on the nation of Libya, he informed the American people of the role the U.S. would be taking in an international effort to force then-Libyan President Qaddafi out of power. Although President Obama’s Democrat base had discouraged military involvement overseas, he received bipartisan Congressional approval to employ military action to combat Qaddafi’s reign of brutality against his own people [iii]. However, the president went on to express that the U.S. would not be engaged in a full-fledged military campaign against Libya; rather the U.S. would join with an international coalition in determining the best course of action.
The speeches delivered by both President Bush and President Obama conveyed gratitude toward the men and women of the U.S. military. There was a notable difference in tone between the two speeches, in part because the former was a graduation speech, therefore allowing for moments of levity. However, the military strategies of the two presidents stood in stark contrast of one another. President Bush expressed a clear interest in defending America and strengthening global democracy through U.S. engagement, whereas President Obama used much of his speech assuring the American people that the U.S. would not take a leadership-role in Libya. President Bush’s speech to the West Point cadets highlighted his consistent, unwavering trust in the U.S. armed forces. In contrast, President Obama’s speech came across as somewhat weak-handed. Instead of strongly asserting the reasoning for U.S. involvement, he strayed from his initial declaration into an apologetic diatribe on how the U.S. had failed to stabilize the Middle East.

[i] “This war will take many turns we cannot predict,” (White House, 2002).
[ii] “We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge,” (White House, 2002).
[iii] “And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973,” (White House, 2011).
White House. (2002). “President Bush Delivers Graduation Speech at West Point.” Retrieved from https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020601-3.html
White House. (2011). “Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Libya.” Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/03/28/remarks-president-address-nation-libya

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