Excerpts From President Obama’s speech on counterterrorism policy at National Defense University

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”Alongside the decision to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way, the decision to use force against individuals or groups even against a sworn enemy of the United States is the hardest thing I do as President. But these decisions must be made, given my responsibility to protect the American people”

 

”The quiet determination; that strength of character and bond of fellowship; that refutation of fear that is both our sword and our shield.  And long after the current messengers of hate have faded from the world’s memory, alongside the brutal despots, and deranged madmen, and ruthless demagogues who litter history the flag of the United States will still wave from small-town cemeteries to national monuments, to distant outposts abroad.  And that flag will still stand for freedom.”

 

”I believe, however, that the use of force must be seen as part of a larger discussion we need to have about a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy because for all the focus on the use of force, force alone cannot make us safe.  We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root; and in the absence of a strategy that reduces the wellspring of extremism, a perpetual war — through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments  will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways”

 

”The peaceful realization of individual aspirations will serve as a rebuke to violent extremists”

 

”American leadership has always been elevated by our ability to connect with people’s hopes, and not simply their fears.”

 

”So, America, we’ve faced down dangers far greater than Al Qaeda.  By staying true to the values of our founding, and by using our constitutional compass, we have overcome slavery and Civil War and fascism and communism.  In just these last few years as President, I’ve watched the American people bounce back from painful recession, mass shootings, natural disasters like the recent tornados that devastated Oklahoma.  These events were heartbreaking; they shook our communities to the core.  But because of the resilience of the American people, these events could not come close to breaking us.”

 

”We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings, nor stamp out every danger to our open society.But what we can do — what we must do — is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us, and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend”

 

”Nevertheless, this ideology persists, and in an age when ideas and images can travel the globe in an instant, our response to terrorism can’t depend on military or law enforcement alone. We need all elements of national power to win a battle of wills, a battle of idea”

 

”To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties — not just in our cities at home and our facilities abroad, but also in the very places like Sana’a and Kabul and Mogadishu where terrorists seek a foothold.  Remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.  So doing nothing is not an option”

 

”Our victory against terrorism won’t be measured in a surrender ceremony at a battleship, or a statue being pulled to the ground.  Victory will be measured in parents taking their kids to school; immigrants coming to our shores; fans taking in a ballgame; a veteran starting a business; a bustling city street; a citizen shouting her concerns at a President.

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