- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2014

A highly anticipated NATO summit kicked off Thursday with the U.S. and Britain looking to rally international partners to stop the advance of the terrorist group the Islamic State.

While it’s not yet clear whether the U.S. will try to get NATO allies on board with a stronger military response to the Islamic State — such as possible airstrikes against terrorist targets in Syria — President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron said their international partners cannot sit idly by and allow the Islamist organization to thrive in Iraq and Syria.

In a joint op-ed in the Times of London, they vowed to show “resolve and determination” as the Islamic State makes clear its intention to murder both American and British civilians and wage a war against the West.

“Those who want to adopt an isolationist approach misunderstand the nature of security in the 21st century,” they wrote. “Developments in other parts of the world, particularly in Iraq and Syria, threaten our security at home.”

The NATO summit comes as both Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron have ramped up their rhetoric toward the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL. Each leader has vowed in recent days to fully defeat the organization, which over the past month has beheaded two American journalists and threatened the same against a hostage they identify on the most recent tape as British.

As the U.S. continues its air campaign in Iraq against Islamic State targets, White House officials say Mr. Obama on Friday will be looking for specific commitments from NATO as an organization and from its member countries.


SEE ALSO: State Dept. releases graphic ‘Welcome to Islamic State’ mock recruitment video


“We will be exploring with individual NATO members what contributions they can make to a broad effort to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, which, again, will cover many different aspects,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters. “In terms of NATO as an alliance, there is an existing NATO capacity to provide support to Iraqi Security Forces as well. So that is an essential area of cooperation. Although, again, when we talk about a broader, multifaceted effort to confront ISIL, clearly different member states would bring to the table different resources.”

NATO officials have indicated there’s a collective responsibility to combat the Islamist organization and left open the possibility of NATO assistance to Iraq, should the new Iraqi government request it.

“I’m sure that if the Iraqi government were to forward a request for NATO assistance, that would be considered seriously by NATO allies,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday after arriving at the two-day gathering, which thus far also has included meetings on Afghanistan and other international issues.

Mr. Obama on Thursday also met with King Abdullah II of Jordan, one of America’s strongest allies in the Middle East.

On a separate foreign policy crisis, NATO members released a joint statement Thursday blasting Russia’s “blatant violation of international law” in Ukraine.

While Russia and Ukraine announced a cease-fire agreement Wednesday, it’s not yet clear whether Moscow is fully able or willing to stop pro-Russia separatists from continuing to wreak havoc across eastern Ukraine.

In a statement, NATO expressed doubt that Russia will live up to its latest cease-fire commitment.

“Despite the commitments it has made, Russia has, in fact, carried out direct military intervention inside Ukraine and increased its support to the militants. We call on Russia to change course and to take active steps to de-escalate the crisis, including to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities,” the organization said.

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