WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama said the fight against violent extremism is a “battle for hearts and minds,” as he called for unity on the second day of a conference bringing together 60 countries Wednesday.
Stressing that the fight against groups like Islamic State cannot be won with military might alone, Obama is expected to talk about “discrediting the voices of extremism” within communities and across the world.
“We must stand united internationally and here at home,” he wrote in a Los Angeles Times opinion article foreshadowing a speech later Wednesday.
“We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians.”
“We also have to confront the violent extremists – the propagandists, recruiters and enablers – who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.”
Obama will speak at the three-day conference, which aims to form a united front following extremist attacks in France, Denmark, Syria and Libya.
Sessions are focused on allowing delegates — most from cities, local government and non-governmental groups — to share experience of what works in tackling extremism.
Among the delegates is Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, where attacks by Islamist gunmen on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly magazine and a kosher supermarket that left 17 people dead.
A White House official said Obama would talk about how anti-radicalization efforts would fit within a broader counterterrorism strategy.
He will talk about how “we must continue to counter and discredit the voices of extremism and hatred, address exploitable grievances, and empower the very communities that are too often targeted by extremists to remain resilient against these efforts,” the official said.
“He also will make the point that, in taking these steps, America must remain true to its core values as a nation that has thrived on the diversity at its core.”