On Tuesday, President Barack Obama went to MacDill Air Force Base and gave his final address to the men and women in the U.S. armed forces before his time is up as their Commander-in-Chief. During his speech, President Obama implored them to question the incoming President and reminded them that it’s okay to “protest against authority.” The outgoing Commander-in-Chief also recapped his past eight years in office, touting his administration’s efforts in homeland security, the war on terror, and strengthening relations with our allies.
During the speech, President Obama wanted to remind the troops that they had the right and the duty to protest President-elect Trump once he takes office. He said he wanted to remind them “that each of us has…the universal right to speak your minds and to protest against authority; to live in a society that’s open and free; that can criticize our president without retribution.”
He also reminded the military members that the nation is dependent on them and their sacrifice to protecting this country. He said the United States depends on them “to carry forward what is best in us, that commitment to a common creed, the confidence that right makes might, not the other way around.”
On terrorism, President Obama lauded his administration’s efforts on combating “violent extremism” but added that the problem will continue to be around for many years to come.
“So rather than offer false promises that we can eliminate terrorism by dropping more bombs or deploying more and more troops or fencing ourselves off from the rest of the world,” President Obama told the troops, “we have to take a long view of the terrorist threat. And we have to pursue a smart strategy that can be sustained. In the time remaining, let me just suggest what I think should guide this approach.”
In continuing the war on terror both abroad and at home, the POTUS made note that while terrorists can kill people, they’re not an “existential threat” to the nation. He urged that it was important to find a way to fight terrorists in a manner that didn’t alienate groups and end up creating more violent jihadists. He also suggested that the right way to fight the violent extremists is to use diplomacy and uphold civil liberties.
“Terrorists would love to see us walk away from the type of work that builds international coalitions and ends conflicts and stops the spread of deadly weapons,” President Obama said. “It would make life easier for them; it would be a tragic mistake for us.”
In what seemed to be a moment of taking his own advice to criticize President-elect Trump, President Obama warned about creating a stigma against “good, patriotic Muslims,” something President Obama and his administration have accused President-elect Trump of doing in the past.
“If we act like this is a war between the United States and Islam, we’re not just going to lose more Americans to terrorist attacks, but we’ll also lose sight of the very principles we claim to defend,” he said.
The President ended his speech with a reminder once more that the nation depends on the heroism of our country’s military members that so proudly serve our nation.
“Remember what that flag stands for,” President Obama said. “For we depend on you, the heirs to that legacy, our men and women in uniform, and the citizens who support you, to carry forward what is best in us, that commitment to a common creed, the confidence that right makes might, not the other way around.”