WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2010 — The United States is moving toward “a more targeted approach” that focuses on strengthening partners and dismantling terrorist networks without the need for large troop deployments in the fight against violent extremism, President Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly today.
Obama underscored the U.S. commitment to fighting extremists and denying them safe havens, the ability to sow violence and access to weapons of mass destruction.
He pointed to Iraq, where, as the United States has drawn down its forces dramatically, the Iraqis have assumed the security lead for their country. “We are now focused on building a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while keeping our commitment to remove the rest of our troops by the end of next year,” he said.
While drawing down nearly 100,000 troops in Iraq, the United States has “refocused on defeating al-Qaida and denying its affiliates a safe haven,” the president said.
He cited operations in Afghanistan, where the United States and its coalition partners are pursuing a strategy “to break the Taliban’s momentum and build the capacity of Afghanistan’s government and security forces.” This, he told the U.N. body, will ensure the transition to Afghan security responsibility can begin in July.
Obama called these transitions blueprints for a new security approach that will demand fewer U.S. boots on the ground.
“From South Asia to the Horn of Africa, we are moving toward a more targeted approach, one that strengthens our partners and dismantles terrorist networks without deploying large American armies,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the United States and its allies “pursue the world’s most dangerous extremists, we’re also denying them the world’s most dangerous weapons and pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” Obama said.
He noted international nonproliferation cooperation, with 47 nations agreeing earlier this year to a plan to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years. The president also cited the United States’ and Russia’s signing of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which he called “the most comprehensive arms-control treaty in decades.” Obama said he also reached out to Iran as part of the nonproliferation agenda, emphasizing that Iran must be held accountable for failing to live up to its international responsibilities.
“Iran is the only partner to the [nonproliferation treaty] that cannot demonstrate the peaceful intentions of its nuclear program,” he said. “And those actions have consequences.” Obama cited sanctions imposed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 as a clear message to Tehran that “international law is not an empty promise.”
The United States and the international community hope to resolve their differences with Iran, Obama said, and the door to diplomacy remains open if Iran will to agree to it. “But the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible commitment and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear program,” he added.
Much of the president’s speech was devoted to pressing for progress in the Middle East peace talks and for the United Nations to do more to promote economic development and human rights.
“We stand up for universal values because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “But we also know from experience that those who defend these values for their people have been our closest friends and allies, while those who have denied those rights – whether terrorist groups or tyrannical governments – have chosen to be our adversaries.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)