Maybe if Paula Abdul hadn't quit American Idol, this speech by John Brennan, formerly of the Bush Administration and now the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, might have gotten into the news. It's a long one, but worth the read.
First, and perhaps most significantly, the fight against terrorists and violent extremists has been returned to its right and proper place: no longer defining—indeed, distorting—our entire national security and foreign policy, but rather serving as a vital part of those larger policies. President Obama has made it clear that the United States will not be defined simply by what we are against, but by what we are for—the opportunity, liberties, prosperity, and common aspirations we share with the world.
Rather than looking at allies and other nations through the narrow prism of terrorism—whether they are with us or against us—the administration is now engaging other countries and peoples across a broader range of areas. Rather than treating so many of our foreign affairs programs—foreign assistance, development, democracy promotion—as simply extensions of the fight against terrorists, we will do these things—promote economic growth, good governance, transparency and accountability—because they serve our common interests and common security; not just in regions gripped by violent extremism, but around the world.
Indeed, it was telling that the President was actually criticized in certain quarters in this country for not using words like "terror," "terrorism" or "terrorist" in [his Cairo] speech. This goes to the heart of his new approach. Why should a great and powerful nation like the United States allow its relationship with more than a billion Muslims around the world be defined by the narrow hatred and nihilistic actions of an exceptionally small minority of Muslims? After all, this is precisely what Osama bin Laden intended with the Sept. 11 attacks: to use al Qaeda to foment a clash of civilizations in which the United States and Islam are seen as distinct identities that are in conflict. In his approach to the world and in his approach to safeguarding the American people, President Obama is determined not to validate al Qaeda’s twisted worldview.