Kerry: Military alone won't win terror fight

Kerry: Military alone won't win terror fight

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Kerry Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington Biden confirms 30 percent global methane reduction goal, urges 'highest possible ambitions' 9/11 and US-China policy: The geopolitics of distraction MORE warned Thursday against only using the military to defeat terrorism.

“You have to take the people off the battlefield who are there today, but you're kind of stupid if all you do is that, and you don't prevent more people from going to the battlefield,” Kerry said at the administration's summit on countering violent extremism.

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Kerry said that, to defeat terrorism, the administration has to understand why people decide to become terrorists.

“You cannot defeat what you don’t understand. Certainly, there is no single answer,” he said. “In our era, poisonous ideas can come from almost anywhere.”

Republicans have criticized the administration for what they say is a reluctance to engage in a direct fight with Islamic extremism.

“We have to stop them and kill them first, and then we can worry about social reasons,” Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said Tuesday during an interview with CNN's “The Situation Room.” “But if we think we are going to stop ISIS by somehow finding what's bothering them psychologically.”

The administration wanted to use the three-day summit on countering extremism to focus on its efforts to prevent terrorism, but they've played defense for much of the week in explaining their use of language in the fight against terrorism.

“We are not at war with Islam,” Obama told the conference on Wednesday, as he addressed questions about the administration’s tactics. 

“We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” he said. “No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism.”

Obama is expected to speak again at the summit Thursday, as is national security adviser Susan Rice.