Addressing the Australian federal parliament in Canberra, Cameron announced new measures that are being put in place in Britain to prevent jihadists from returning to the country from Middle East conflict zones and to stop suspected foreign fighters from leaving in the first place.
He contested the argument that issues like poverty and deprivation, or unhappiness with foreign policy, are fueling Islamist terrorism.
“We also have to address its root cause,” he said. “And let us be frank, it’s not poverty, though of course our nations are united in tackling deprivation wherever it exists.
“It’s not exclusion from the mainstream. Of course we have more to do but we [Britain and Australia] are both successful, multicultural democracies where opportunities abound.
“And it’s not foreign policy,” Cameron continued. “Now I can show you examples all over the world where British aid and British action have saved millions of Muslim lives, from Kosovo to Syria – but that is not actually the real point. In our democracies we must never give in to the idea that disagreeing with a foreign policy in any way justifies terrorist outrages.”
“No, the root cause of the challenge we face is the extremist narrative,” he said. “So we must confront this extremism in all its forms.”
Secretary of State John Kerry is among those who on occasion cite poverty and other factors when discussing the causes of terrorism.
Late last month, Kerry told U.S. Embassy staffers in Ottawa that the response to Islamist extremism must be to deal with the distortion of Islam as well as providing “better alternatives for a whole bunch of young people who today live in places where they feel oppressed, where they don’t have a lot of opportunity, there’s not enough education, they don’t have jobs.”
Two weeks earlier, Kerry said terrorism such as that practiced by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) was not linked to Islam, pointing instead to poverty, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and climate change.