Skip to content

Obama Calls for Global Effort to Fight Violent Extremism

President Barack Obama detailed his plan to wipe out violent extremism across the globe in anaddress to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly this morning, reaffirming America�s commitment and calling upon global leaders to pledge their support to eliminate this global threat.

�No god condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions,� Obama said. �There can be no reasoning, no negotiating 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.�

A majority of Obama�s remarks focused on eliminating ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, through targeted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria and through training ground troops in the respective nations to combat the threat. Forty nations have already committed to the effort, but in his appearance at the assembly Obama asked for a broader global commitment to eliminate the threat that could potentially spread beyond the Middle East.

That fear is spurred by the fact that ISIS has attracted thousands of Westerners to its cause. The militant group has a strong, sophisticated Internet presence, using social media to effectively spread its radical beliefs and recruit new members as no terrorist organization has done before.

�In this century, we have faced a more lethal and ideological brand of terrorists who have perverted one of the world�s great religions,� Obama explained. �With access to technology that allows small groups to do great harm, they have embraced a nightmarish version that would divide the world into adherents and infidels�killing as many innocent civilians as possible; and employing the most brutal methods to intimidate people within their communities.�

To combat this threat, the United States will continue to support military force to eradicate ISIS, but that is only part of the solution. To truly defeat violent extremism, Obama said that Muslim communities and the international community itself needs to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of organizations like al Qaeda and ISIS.

�That means contesting the space that terrorists occupy�including the Internet and social media,� Obama said. �Their propaganda has coerced young people to travel abroad to fight their wars, and turned students into suicide bombers. We must offer an alternative.�

Along with an alternative forum for ideas, Obama said nations must take concrete steps to invest in places where extremism is rampant to provide engaging alternatives to young people who might be attracted to the cause. �When young people have the tools to succeed�good schools, education in math and science, an economy that nurtures creativity and entrepreneurship�then societies will flourish,� he said. �So America will partner with those who promote that vision.�

The United States has seen some success along these lines with young Muslims across the globe taking to social media to denounce the acts of ISIS, the election of a new prime minister in Iraq, a more inclusive government in Baghdad, and Lebanon�s efforts to thwart ISIS. However, rejecting extremism is a generational task that must be undertaken by the Middle East itself with support from the rest of the world, Obama said.

�You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder,� Obama said, speaking directly to the people of the Middle East. �Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition, not defending it.�