WHITE HOUSE —
President Barack Obama says despite the closing of U.S. embassies due to terrorist threats, the United States will never retreat from the world. The president spoke to U.S. Marines Wednesday at their base in California.
Obama was responding to new threats from al-Qaida, after which the U.S. closed 19 diplomatic facilities and evacuated some personnel from its embassy in Yemen.
The president told the marines at Camp Pendleton their work in Afghanistan, though, has led to al-Qaida’s influence being diminished.
“Because of you, Osama bin Laden is no more. [Marines: “Oorah!”] Because of you, al-Qaida’s top ranks have been hammered. The core of al-Qaida, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is on the way to defeat,” said Obama.
Obama acknowledged that while the war in Afghanistan is winding down, however, the withdrawal of international combat troops by the end of 2014 will not mean the end of threats to America.
“Al-Qaida affiliates and like-minded extremists still threaten our homeland, still threaten our diplomatic facilities, still threaten our businesses abroad. We have got to take these threats seriously, and do all we can to confront them,” he said.
Still, the president said terrorist threats will not intimidate the U.S.
“We do not get terrorized. We are going to keep standing up for our interests. We are going to keep standing up for the security of our citizens. We are going to keep standing up for human rights and dignity for people wherever they live. We are going to keep working with our allies and our partners. We are going to keep offering a future of hope and progress, in stark contrast to terrorists, who only know how to kill and destroy and maim,” said the president.
Obama said the U.S. will remain what he called “the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.” While he said the military is an integral part of that mission, he also said America must also lead with its ideals and values.
In addition, the president challenged the U.S. Congress to end the automatic government spending cuts, which have slashed military budgets.
Before speaking to the Marines, Obama met with wounded service members and the parents of troops killed in action, as well as with several of California’s members of Congress.