STRASBOURG, France - My story on President Obama’s day here in France yesterday is up on the website. I wanted to highlight the last portion of the story, which explains the president’s attempts to challenge European attitudes about war.
With Europe’s aversion to armed conflict in mind, Mr. Obama talked throughout the day about the need to persevere in Afghanistan.
“We would not deploy our own troops if this mission was not indispensable to our own common security,” Mr. Obama told the town hall gathering. “If there is another al Qaeda attack, it is just as likely, if not more, that it will be here in Europe in a European city.”
But he also sought to counter attitudes about war and conflict in general, and said a change of U.S. administrations did not lessen the burden for others.
“It is important for Europe to understand that even though I’m now president and George Bush is no longer president, al Qaeda is still a threat. We cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president, suddenly everything is going to be OK,” he said.
“Don’t fool yourselves, because some people say, ‘Well, you know, if we changed our policies with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or if we were more respectful towards the Muslim world, suddenly these organizations would stop threatening us.’ That’s just not the case.”
He even called the war in Afghanistan “just,” a term usually reserved for theological debates about whether state-sanctioned bloodshed can be morally justified.
“I understand that after a long campaign in Afghanistan, people can feel weary of war, even a war that is just,” he said.
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times