Obama: ISIS must be destroyed, there will be no negotiations
President Barack Obama presented a four-pronged approach to battling violent extremism from the likes of the Islamic State on Wednesday and pleaded with the international community for assistance during an address at the United Nations.
From the UN headquarters in New York City, Pres. Obama asked member states and the rest of the world to come together in order to combat the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, or ISIL — in the midst of a months-long campaign of violence in the Middle East that in recent days and weeks has been met with military strikes from the United States and its allies.
Speaking at first generally of what he referred to as the dangers posed by religiously motivated fanatics such as members of Al-Qaeda, Pres. Obama soon after set his sights specifically on the Islamic State and asked his audience in the General Assembly to consider a blueprint that aims to eradicate those groups by first eliminating ISIS before taking a broader approach intended to curb the creation of similar factions in the future.
“As an international community, we must meet this challenge with a focus on four areas. First, the terrorist group known as ISIL must be degraded, and ultimately destroyed,” Obama said.
“No God condones this terror,” he added. “No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”
Indeed, the president’s remarks came only hours after the US and a coalition of Arab nations launched strikes on Syria for the second consecutive day as part of a Pentagon initiative that so far has required no boots on the ground, but rather air and sea attacks against at Islamic State targets both there and in Iraq.
Speaking before the General Assembly and a global audience, Pres. Obama encouraged the rest of the world to participate in the anti-ISIS campaign that so far has attracted the cooperation of over 40 nations.
“In this effort, we do not act alone. Nor do we intend to send US troops to occupy foreign lands,” he said. “Instead, we will support Iraqis and Syrians fighting to reclaim their communities. We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL. We will train and equip forces fighting against these terrorists on the ground. We will work to cut off their financing, and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region.”
“Today, I ask the world to join in this effort,” Obama added. “Those who have joined ISIL should leave the battlefield while they can. Those who continue to fight for a hateful cause will find they are increasingly alone. For we will not succumb to threats; and we will demonstrate that the future belongs to those who build – not those who destroy.”
Additionally, Pres. Obama said his plan involves not just erasing the Islamic State, but eliminating the creation of splinter groups by going after the factors he blames for breeding extremism.
“Second, it is time for the world – especially Muslim communities – to explicitly, forcefully and consistently reject the ideology of Al-Qaeda and ISIL,” he said. “It is time for a new compact among the civilized peoples of this world to eradicate war at its most fundamental source: the corruption of young minds by violent ideology,” he continued, adding that achieving as much could be accomplished by blocking funding to extremist groups and counteracting other tactics, like social media and web recruiting, that has allowed the ranks of ISIS to balloon up by the thousands in recent months.
Thirdly, Obama said, his plan calls for a global effort intended to solve sectarian disputes that spawn violent groups; and lastly asked that “the countries of the Arab and Muslim world must focus on the extraordinary potential of their people – especially the youth.”
“Ultimately, the task of rejecting sectarianism and extremism is a generational task – a task for the people of the Middle East themselves,” Obama said. “No external power can bring about a transformation of hearts and minds. But America will be a respectful and constructive partner. We will neither tolerate terrorist safe-havens, nor act as an occupying power. Instead, we will take action against threats to our security – and our allies – while building an architecture of counter-terrorism cooperation. We will increase efforts to lift up those who counter extremist ideology, and seek to resolve sectarian conflict. And we will expand our programs to support entrepreneurship, civil society, education and youth – because, ultimately, these investments are the best antidote to violence.”
According to the president, the UN Security Council will adopt a resolution later Wednesday that underscores the responsibility of states to counter violent extremism. The pact, however, “must be followed by tangible commitments,” he cautioned.