Obama and Kerry Speak at White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism
Today at the State Department in Washington, governments and civil society groups from more than 60 countries will meet to focus on ways to counter violent extremism (CVE).
“We know that the outbreak of violent extremism is not going to be defeated by any one country, by any one group acting alone,” Secretary Kerry said February 18 at the White House CVE Summit. “We have to do this together. We have to coordinate almost as never before, because we’re living in a totally different world, unlike the last century, unlike the World Wars where news traveled differently. This is instantaneous. And believe me, [violent extremists] are exploiting that to a fare-thee-well.”
“As we go forward, we need to find new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion – and we especially need to do it online,” President Obama said during the summit. “We have to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies that these terrorist groups use to incite people to violence. (…) We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders – they’re terrorists.”
President Obama said countries must both discredit these ideologies and address the grievances that terrorists exploit, including economic grievances. “When millions of people – especially youth – are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliations on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester. The risk of instability and extremism grow. Where young people have no education, they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas, because it’s not tested against anything else, they’ve got nothing to weigh.”
As part of the summit, Secretary Kerry also participated in a ministerial on information sharing to counter foreign terrorist fighters. “Our estimates suggest more than 20,000 people from more than 100 different countries have traveled to Syria or Iraq to join Daesh’s ranks,” the Secretary said. “And although more than half of them are from the Middle East, they could come literally from anywhere. Recruits from Western Europe, for example, number almost 4,000. This is unprecedented. (…) It’s not just the fact that these foreign fighters are helping to fuel the fight in Syria and Iraq; they’re coming home, too. (…) The world has borne witness to the horrific attacks in Brussels, Peshawar, Paris, Copenhagen, Sydney, two cities in Canada, and elsewhere. And make no mistake: Daesh is not only interested in going after the West. They’re turning their swords to the Middle East as well, as we saw days ago with the mass beheadings of the Egyptian Coptic Christians that I talked about in the beginning. So bottom line, this is about as global as a threat gets.”
Secretary Kerry will address the CVE summit today at 14:45 German time. His remarks will be livestreamed on www.state.gov.