Then again, it’s ludicrous for Obama to claim al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat when they control most of Mali (an area the size of France) and are on the verge of seizing control of Syria. If anything, al-Qaeda has never been stronger.
President Obama appears to be backing away from his often-stated claim – a cornerstone of his 2012 campaign – that “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat.”
In a subtle but important shift three days ago during remarks nominating Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to be Secretary of State, Obama revised the assertion, stipulating that “the al Qaeda core is on the path to defeat.”
The addition of one word to Obama’s usual statement may seem a small matter. But the president chooses his words very carefully, particularly in prepared remarks. And the insertion of the word “core” probably represents a major reassessment by the administration of al Qaeda’s overall strength and durability, a change in outlook that could have a significant impact on U.S. anti-terrorism policy going forward.
Use of the word “core” implies that while the administration is having success against the al Qaeda leadership, al Qaeda’s far-flung affiliates – like the ones that carried out the Benghazi attack – are not on the “path to defeat.” And therefore in a larger sense, the claim made during the campaign that al Qaeda itself is on the path to defeat is no longer considered true by the White House.