Obama: U.S. Taking ‘Targeted Approach’ on Extremism

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)

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