Obama to lay out foreign policy approach in speech at West Point
May 25th, 2014
09:07 AM ET
7 years ago

Obama to lay out foreign policy approach in speech at West Point

Washington (CNN) - Eager to respond to criticism of his foreign policy approach to recent crises, from Syria to Ukraine, President Barack Obama will lay out his vision on Wednesday at the commencement at West Point for how the United States should apply force around the world.

"You will hear the President discuss how the United States will use all the tools in our arsenal without over-reaching," a White House official said.

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"There’s a lot at stake and now is the right time for this speech," the official added, noting a long period of war in both in Iraq and Afghanistan is now coming to an end.

Top administration officials have begun preparing members of Congress for the President's remarks.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday to review some of the goals that will be laid out in Obama's foreign policy address.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, later described the meeting as "bizarre."

Obama was met with stinging criticism of his foreign policy following a trip to Asia last month. The President, who has carefully avoided any sort of military confrontation in his responses to challenges in Syria and Ukraine, hit back at his critics, saying his aim is to avoid costly "errors" on the world stage.

"You hit singles, you hit doubles. Every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run,” Obama said at a news conference in the Philippines.

"Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we've just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs?" Obama added. "And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?"

Much of the criticism of the President's foreign policy began last year after Obama decided against using military force in Syria after the United States concluded that Syrian forces had crossed a "red line" he had drawn against the use of chemical weapons.

At a news conference in Tokyo during his trip to Asia, Obama pointed to his ability to force Syria to surrender much of its chemical weapon arsenal without U.S. air strikes.

“That is a consequence of U.S. leadership. The fact that we didn’t have to fire a missile to get that accomplished is not a failure to uphold international norms, it’s a success,” Obama said in Tokyo.

The President's speech at West Point will begin a larger foreign policy push that will carry into his upcoming trip to Europe, that includes a G-7 summit in Brussels and a visit to Poland, which is designed to reassure Eastern European allies after Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

"He will lay out why the right policy is one that is both interventionist and internationalist, but not isolationist or unilateral," a White House official said.

Filed under: Foreign Policy • Military • President Obama
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Military force should be used sparingly, not as the warmongers dictate. Going into a foreign country with guns a-blazing is not the answer to most problems.

    May 25, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    --you want to Bomb Syria, Ukraine? Blame Obama for not inviting to war? Not branding these so-called poor, middle class that are drafted, or going to war, and go to VA when they return serving for two or three years there, and again GOP making all kinds of VA bs, so you blame president just he is black as usual. Nonsense. Listen, USA can NOT afford another War. Period. It needs Education. Pump that money on THAT Education, R &D. India, China are waking up–you wake up. No one is interested in color bs. Wake up.

    May 25, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  3. J Anthony

    The era of chest-thumping,rightwing war-fever is hopefully coming to an end.. These people have no ground to stand on any longer. It does not make us weaker, but wiser. The U.S. military-industrial complex is the largest, most fearsome on the planet. Post-WW2 expansion and corporate imperialism ran amok...we must temper the beast, and wield that power methodically and incisively..or we can keep trying to run the world and trigger WW3. Is this a hard choice?

    May 25, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  4. Thomas Harold Richards

    Empty words from a hollow suit. Obama has successfully neutralized any tools we could use in foreign policy.

    Economy: high "actual" unemployment rate, 0.1% economic growth for Q1, policies that have done nothing to spur economic growth.

    Allies: getting caught blatantly spying on several world leaders that happened to be our allies

    Military: the VA debacle is just the tip of the iceberg

    Unity of Country: a Community Organizer's best weapon is To focus us-vs-them. Black vs white, rich vs poor, right vs left, etc.
    Totally inappropriate for the President of the United States.

    May 25, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. JED

    After 6 years he is going to announce a policy? He's the lamest of lame ducks, so nobody cares anyway. Like most of his speeches over the past 6 years, that's all it will be. All hot air and no follow through.

    May 25, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. tony

    i lived in the country of war for all of my life. no body hate war like me but sometimes war is the only resourse to deal with. if we can build our military strong and be ready to strike any one to hurt us, no body will attack us.

    May 25, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. tony

    he is a good man but not a good leader.

    May 25, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. Hmm!

    Obama's idea of foreign policy is lots of expensive international travel (paid by taxpayers) for him and his family. That's about it!

    May 25, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. chris

    Wait, wait...Obama has a policy on foreign affairs?

    May 25, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. Hector Slagg

    This should have been addressed back in 2008 or before. An Oz of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Leading from behind is no way to run a "Railroad." Constantly Campaigning is no way to lead.

    May 25, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  11. kerrypenn49

    All anyone gets from the self-righteous tinkerbell obama is lies and deceptions.
    Why would anyone want to subject themselves to such lies and deceptions?
    Obama’s reaction to reporters asking him if failing to back up his 2012 "red line" challenge may have damaged his credibility. His answer is shockingly immature and petulant, saying "I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line."
    Our President is again passing responsibility for his own behavior onto someone else.
    This must be very embarrassing to liberals and Democrats.
    Answering the question of credibility, the President sniffed, "My credibility isn't on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line."
    The President of the United States is throwing an international temper tantrum while "the world" mocks him.
    I am so ashamed to have such a person in the White House.

    May 25, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Thomas

    And the GOP response , Marco Rubio stated America needs a stronger pain killers and longer lasting hair spray .

    Marco Rubio , climat change is only as real as Fox News .

    May 25, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. Lalalam

    More lies? Obama decision on Syria? It wasn't that Lon ago, he came out nationally wanting to bomb military installations immediately. Congress, both parties told him to sit down and shut up. Are people's memory spans so short? Lie after lie, failure after failure. He makes Clinton look honest and he was impeached for lying.

    May 25, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Prophet

    He's good at killing terrorists.

    May 25, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. Jose Hose B

    Obama's foreign policy? There is no such thing. It is a myth.

    May 25, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. garypsmith321

    Obama on foreign policy? This ought to be a hoot!!

    May 25, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Old Grad

    This is a shame. Politics have to be brought up in every discussion from the dinner table to the work environment to even a graduation speech. Last year Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke at West Point's commencement. The basis of his speech revolved around "Alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and mental illness, sexual harassment and sexual assault." I was there one year ago today, in the audience, sitting on the field ready to receive my diploma.

    Can we just take a moment put politics aside and praise these Cadets, soon to be Second Lieutenants who are ready to lead our sons and daughters of tomorrow. Praise them for their accomplishments and thank them for what they have done as well as what they are about to do.

    Thank you and best of luck Class of 2014!

    –Old Grad "Defending the Dream"

    May 25, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Farrok

    The decline of American power in the world is a good thing. I as a America am tired of having our sons and daughter being sent to war in an attempt to solve other peoples problems. America can't even clean up its own house.

    America seems to have lost the power to solve any problems of any type form the VA to endless war in the Middle East. American needs to refocus on itself and stop spending money and lives on other peoples problems.

    America don't worry about the speck in someones else's eye when your own is own is full of grit and black and blue. Forget the rest of these 3rd world dumps and rebuild America.

    May 25, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. McBob79

    Really? Again? How many more times does he have to explain and how many more times will it change? Organizer is clueless .

    May 25, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Lizzie

    President Obamas foreign policy, LEAD FROM BEHIND, if we have treaties with you, tough, fight your own battles.

    May 25, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. YoonYoungJo

    Overall I actually do think Obama had the right idea. Except when lines are crossed. That is the only criticism I have of his policy. When lines are crossed, when aggression is not met with opposition, the world starts questioning your strength and even motives. If there is a school bully, where do you draw the line? The bully keeps to name calling and nothing. Then he begins hitting other students, nothing. Then he shoots another student, the. Finally something. Perhaps the line should have been drawn at an earlier point? That is my only criticism of the President. I believe in giving people the chance to do the right thing. Believe in the conscience of people, but what happens when it's discovered they will not do the right thing? That they do not have a conscience or they have been deceiving you the entire time? If nothing happens, I guarantee the US will need to begin preparing itself for a plethora of lines to be crossed. If no one had said anything about the lead in children's toys, how high would the lead content be today? Would the lead used in toys be 10x, 50x more? This is always what happens when you ignore an issue of concern or allow people's wrong doing to go unpunished or unencumbered. The issue always balloons into something 100 times, 1000 times worse, always.

    May 25, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  22. truzak

    Obama has a foreign policy? Oh yeah, I forgot – it's called Retreat and Surrender – aka the Obama Doctrine.

    Under Obama's "leadership – that would be leading from behind, the US surrenders to Putin. We surrender to China. And most assuredly, we surrender to the Muslim jihadis while clandestinely assisting them with arms and propaganda, enabling and empowering them to "fundamentally transform" the Middle East.

    But al Qaeda is on the run, let us not forget.

    May 25, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  23. JC

    The speech should have happened a long time ago. When he says "without overreaching" he really means without any force. He's terrified of upsetting the progressives, just like the GOP was once scared of upsetting tea billies, and military action, even if promised, isn't something he's willing to do.

    May 25, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  24. willhaas

    The President said that the White House dog would be a mutt "like me" from an animal shelter yet the dog they got was a purebred who had never set foot in an animal shelter. The President is suppose to be the most powerful man in the free world yet he could not keep his word on something as trivial as the White House dog. Our President is in the habit of saying thngs that sound good at the time but turn out to have little or no meaning. Our President has no real credibility on most subjects and foreign policy is one of them. It is suppose to be the President's economic plan to bring the troops home in 2014 and to apply half of the savings so that the federal government can start posting budget surpluses starting in 2015 to be used to pay down the debt and to use the other half for infrastructure. The President has yet to provide the financial details as to how his "plan" is even possible. Even his own White House is expecting that the President's "plan" will fail and the federal government will continue to post huge deficits for at least another decade. Obama said that deficit spending showed a lack of leadership so "a lack of leadership" has been a hallmark of the Obama administration. We are still waiting for the budget cuts that are suppose to go along with the tax hike on the rich and the ACA taxes as part of the President's balanced approach to deficit reduction. The list of unfulfilled promises goes on and on.

    May 26, 2014 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    Now let me see where all this gung -ho militarism got us. You need to go back in history to after WWII
    Who created the border lines and Israel as a state basically the big four then US UK Russia and France
    Result 1 The COLD and mad over Cuba, nearly WWIII.
    Result 2 The war in the Korean peninsula 38th parallel and Vietnam in the 60's almost 100%US some Brits in Korea.
    Result 3 The British and French Empires collapse and America literally soldiers on alone
    Result 4 The war against the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, some support from the UN ally nations.
    Result 5 4, above is the start for Extremist Islamic groups think Chechnya, Bosnia Herzegovina... some weaker support ex UN nations.
    Result 6 our US alone warmongers declare Iraq has WMD and the Axis of terror is expanded to include Afghanistan, Iran, Korea, finally becoming the " war on terror" please note all the states in question were Islamic states entitled to JIHAD to defend the faith against the Infidel. By now the main infidel is the GOP & USA.
    The US hegemony of international proprietary is doing what happened to all Empires or desires to control or direct how world governments are operated. they collapse of fail and in this case (US) economic bankruptcy was the winner.
    Those who wish to pursue wars in Syria Ukraine and elsewhere need to start thinking about the blood an treasure we alone will have to sacrifice. our closest ally UK wants none of it, France an Germany even less so. Russia WILL ALLY WITH CHINA on any geopolitical matter (UN VETO) and will have nothing to do with Western world so called "War on Terror"

    May 26, 2014 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
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