Obama: Terror fight needs coalitions, no ´false promises´

December 8, 2016 at 5:35 am

Tampa: President Barack Obama on Tuesday used his final address on global terror to defend his approach to the fight, calling for coalition-building to continue battlefield successes while rejecting the use of torture.

Highlighting the lines drawn during his eight years as commander in chief, Obama did not mention Donald Trump by name, but he clearly addressed his successor, who has yet to spell out his own counterterrorism strategy.

“Rather than offer false promises that we can eliminate terrorism by dropping more bombs or deploying more and more troops or fencing ourselves off from the rest of the world, we have to take a long view of the terrorist threat,” Obama said.

“And we have to pursue a smart strategy that can be sustained.”

Obama claimed a clear break from the strategy under former president George W. Bush, highlighting the withdrawal of most US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, from 180,000 to about 15,000 today. That number also includes advisors in Syria.

“Instead of pushing all of the burdens onto American ground troops, instead of trying to mount invasions wherever terrorists appear, we´ve built a network of partners,” he said.

Obama also defended his approach to fighting the militant group in Iraq and Syria, much of it centred around an intense air strike campaign directed from MacDill Air Force Base.

The installation, where the president gave his speech, houses the headquarters of US Special Operations Command and CENTCOM, the US military´s command for operations stretching from the Gulf to Central Asia.

The militant group that wants to establish a “caliphate” straddling the two countries has lost “more than half” its territory, Obama said.

“Militant has lost control of major population centres. Its morale is plummeting. Its recruitment is drying up. Its commanders and external plotters are being taken out, and local populations are turning against it.”

Obama, who authorized the strike to take out Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, said that the group was now “a shadow of its former self.”

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