Obama, Cameron: We will not be 'cowed by barbaric killers’

NATO will play a crucial role in confronting a government in Russia that has “ripped up the rulebook” and Islamic militants guilty of “brutal and poisonous extremism,” President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in a joint op-ed published Wednesday night. 

The historical alliance of Western nations “is as vital to our future as it has ever been to our past,” the world leaders argued, warning that “an arc of instability” across the globe is threatening the safety and security of the United States.

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“Whether it is regional aggression going unchecked or the prospect that foreign fighters could return from Iraq and Syria to pose a threat in our countries, the problems we face today threaten the security of British and American people, and the wider world,” the world leaders added.

Obama and Cameron issued a stern warning to the terrorists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who in recent weeks have beheaded two American journalists. The ISIS militant who appears in execution videos released by the group is thought to be British, and has threatened to kill a third journalist who also hails from the United Kingdom.

“If terrorists think we will weaken in the face of their threats they could not be more wrong. Countries like Britain and America will not be cowed by barbaric killers,” the leaders wrote. “We will be more forthright in the defense of our values, not least because a world of greater freedom is a fundamental part of how we keep our own people safe.”

The op-ed, published before Thursday's opening of the NATO summit in Wales, goes on to call for the alliance to make concrete changes to face evolving and dangerous threats.

Cameron and Obama say NATO should create a quick-strike force capable of responding to aggression like that undertaken by Russia in Ukraine, and that member countries should meet their prescribed targets of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

“We must be prepared to deploy our special forces, invest in smart defense and strengthen the capacity of forces elsewhere to tackle local conflicts through new defense capacity, building missions with our partners from Georgia to the Middle East,” the leaders wrote.

The leaders also said NATO countries “can and should use all levers” — rather than rely on just military action — when confronting either terrorists in Syria and Iraq or the Kremlin.

It is believed that Obama and Cameron will encourage other European powers to support increased sanctions against Russia over its most recent military incursions into Ukraine. Already, both France and Germany have announced their intention to halt delivery on multimillion-dollar defense contracts with the Kremlin.

Separately, Downing Street is reportedly weighing whether to join the U.S. in launching airstrikes against the Islamic State militants in Iraq. 

Cameron and Obama are slated to visit a school in Newport, Wales, together Thursday ahead of the NATO meetings. The leaders will later join a meeting with the Italian, French, German and Ukrainian heads of state to discuss the ongoing clashes between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists.