Imagine a parallel universe in which the president of the United States said something like this:
“My fellow Americans … we are at war.
“It is not a war of our choosing, but one that has been forced upon us by a dedicated enemy, most of whom are cowards. Our enemy prefers to strike from the shadows, to attack the most vulnerable among us, the unarmed, the unwary, the unprepared. Our enemy does not hesitate to attack women and children, yet our enemy will hide behind women and children.
|“The United States of America was founded on the principle of individual liberty. For more than two centuries people from every country on earth have come to America seeking better lives for themselves and their families. We are a nation forged of immigrant steel, diverse in language, in race, in traditions, in lifestyles, in faith; but one thing we all are, regardless of how deep or how shallow our roots have sunk into the soil of this great country’s history, we are all Americans.|
“And as Americans, we have battled this enemy before, from the shores of Tripoli to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, from our planes being blown out of the sky to the fall of the Twin Towers, from Fort Hood to San Bernardino to Orlando. Yet always have we tried to use restraint because our enemy hides within a much larger, peaceful population.
“But as we have seen time and time again, fighting this enemy with restraint only emboldens him and leads to the slaughter of more innocent victims. As president of the United States my primary responsibility, my most sacred trust, is the protection of American citizens, and to do that I have at my disposal the most powerful and sophisticated military, law enforcement, and intelligence forces the world has ever known. But the men and women who stand ready to defend this country cannot do so with their hands tied behind their backs. Today, as commander-in-chief, I am untying their hands.
“The enemy I am speaking of is a bloodthirsty, primitive, and despicable theocratic ideology that can be called many names, but for the sake of simplicity I choose to call it radical Islam. The followers of this despotic ideology are the enemy of the entire civilized world. They do not want to live in peace. They do not want to co-exist. They refuse to tolerate and actively seek to kill anyone who does not follow their fanatical interpretation of Islam, anyone whose lifestyle they disagree with, and anyone who refuses to submit to their medieval rule.
“This enemy is like no other enemy we have fought. It has many faces and many names: the Islamic State, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and many, many others, and like the mythological Hydra of Lerna, when you strike off one head, two more spring up to take its place. And that is why the type of warfare we have tried has not worked. We did not defeat the Nazis or the Empire of Japan by fighting a limited war, and we will not defeat radical Islam like that either.
“We must fight a total, multifaceted war on many fronts, domestically and abroad. We must hunt this enemy down and exterminate him, wherever he hides and under whatever flag he marches. To that end, I have told our intelligence agencies to use every means at their disposal to find and disrupt these barbaric murderers. I have authorized our law enforcement agencies to identify these terrorists and their supporters and arrest, prosecute, and imprison them. And I have ordered our military to … unleash hell on our enemies.
“We did not start this war, but by God, we will win it.
“Thank you, and God bless America.”