WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday appealed to the global community to help the United States bring down Islamic State militants, saying it will take a broad coalition "to dismantle this network of death."
In remarks before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Obama conveyed a strong message of collectivism, calling not just on the international community to reject violent extremism but also on the Muslim community to reject it. He used the word "collectively" four times; "together" 12 times; and "cooperation" four times.
"There can be no reasoning, no negotiation, with this brand of evil," Obama said. "The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death."
Obama's rhetoric was reminiscent of that used throughout George W. Bush's presidency, but with a different touch. His message was less that "you're either with us or against us" in fighting terrorism, but rather that "we need everyone to be with us."
"Over 40 nations have offered to join this coalition. Today, I ask the world to join in this effort," he said. "Those who have joined [the Islamic State] should leave the battlefield while they can. Those who continue to fight for a hateful cause will find they are increasingly alone. For we will not succumb to threats, and we will demonstrate that the future belongs to those who build, not those who destroy."
The president pointed to four areas where the global community must come together to stem terrorism: destroying Islamic State militants; rejecting the ideology of al Qaeda and the Islamic State; addressing the conflicts that fuel the conditions that terrorists prey upon; and encouraging Arab countries to provide opportunities for young people. On the last point, he spoke directly to Muslim youth who may have been listening.
"You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder," Obama said. "Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition, not defending it."
Ultimately, said the president, the people of the Middle East must reject sectarianism and extremism in their region.
"No external power can bring about a transformation of hearts and minds," he said.
Some in the White House later disputed that Obama's use of terms like "evil" and "network of death" reflected a shift toward Bush-era rhetoric.
"I don't think that is true at all, this is how he has talked abt his [counterterrorism] strategy for as long as I have worked for him," tweeted White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer.
"Not inconsistent at all," he added.
The president's remarks come two days after the United States, with a coalition of five Arab partners, launched a major bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria. More than 40 countries have spoken in favor of the U.S. effort, though it's unclear in what capacity they will contribute to it.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. military had conducted 198 airstrikes in Iraq and 20 airstrikes in Syria targeting the terrorist group.
This story has been updated to include Pfeiffer's comments on Obama's rhetoric.
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