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New Obama strategy to beat terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan

By Arun Kumar,IANS,

Washington : Vowing not to allow terrorists to plot against the American people from “safe havens” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Barack Obama said the US will forge a new strategy to defeat the Al Qaeda and combat extremism.

Turning to the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in his first speech Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress focusing on economy, Obama said his budget for the first time “includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

“For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price,” he said. “We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.”

“And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat Al Qaeda and combat extremism,” Obama said. “Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away.”

To overcome extremism, the US must also be vigilant “in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America”, he said giving his reasons for the closing of the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.

“In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America,” Obama declared.

“To meet the challenges of the 21st century – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty – we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power,” Obama said.

To respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, he said US was working with the nations of the G20 to restore confidence in its financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe.

“For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world’s,” Obama held, saying the world was “waiting for us to lead” as “we stand at this crossroads of history”.