Obama has affirmed that his top priority now is to defeat ISIL and eliminate the threat of terrorism.
Addressing the media in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Obama said:
“I’ve got a lot of things on my plate. But my top priority is to defeat ISIL and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that’s been taking place around the world. And we see high-profile attacks in Europe, but they’re also killing Muslims throughout the Middle East — people who are innocent, people who are guilty only of worshipping Islam in a different way than this organization. They are poisoning the minds of young people everywhere.”
“So there’s no more important item on my agenda than going after them and defeating them. The issue is how do we do it in an intelligent way. And our approach has been continuously to adjust to see what works and what doesn’t. What has been working is the airstrikes that we’re taking on their leadership, on their infrastructure, on their financial systems.”
“One of the great strengths of the United States, and part of the reason why we have not seen more attacks in the United States, is we have an extraordinarily successful, patriotic, integrated Muslim American community. They do not feel ghettoized, they do not feel isolated. Their children are our children’s friends, going to the same schools. They are our colleagues in our workplaces. They are our men and women in uniform fighting for our freedom. And so any approach that would single them out or target them for discrimination is not only wrong and un-American, but it also would be counterproductive, because it would reduce the strength, the antibodies that we have to resist terrorism.”
“Groups like ISIL can’t destroy us, they can’t defeat us. They don’t produce anything. They’re not an existential threat to us. They are vicious killers and murderers who perverted one of the world’s great religions. And their primary power, in addition to killing innocent lives, is to strike fear in our societies, to disrupt our societies, so that the effect cascades from an explosion or an attack by a semi-automatic rifle.
“And even as we are systematic and ruthless and focused in going after them — disrupting their networks, getting their leaders, rolling up their operations — it is very important for us to not respond with fear. As I said, that’s hard to do because we see the impact in such an intimate way of the attacks that they make. But we defeat them in part by saying, you are not strong; you are weak. We send a message to those who might be inspired by them to say, you are not going to change our values of liberty and openness and the respect of all people.”