Obama to cadets: 'International order' over unilateral actions

McClatchy NewspapersMay 22, 2010 

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, addressing the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on Saturday, previewed the national security strategy his administration is to announce next week by saying the U.S. must "shape an international order" and make itself more competitive globally in terms of education and innovation.

Obama's approach in his commencement address to cadets rejected the Bush administration's justifications for preemptive war or go-it-alone foreign policy. Obama said the nation "has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation."

Speaking of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the overall U.S. effort against al Qaeda, Obama said "we also have to see the horizon beyond these wars" and "pursue a strategy of national renewal and global leadership."

The president noted it is West Point's ninth straight commencement during war time, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He also acknowledged his own remarks at West Point six months earlier introducing a new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy that commits at least 30,000 additional troops. He said he is "humbled by the knowledge that many of you will soon be serving in harm's way."

Obama emphasized both diplomacy and practicality in calling for the U.S. to strengthen longtime alliance and bring in new partners. He said adversaries want the U.S. to overextend itself and recalled how coalitions prevailed in World War II and against the Cold War. He also argued that international approaches to fighting extremism, nuclear proliferation, global warming and hunger could reduce root causes of violence.

On the flight back to Washington, Obama spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about economic policy and Iran. Then he headed out for some golf.

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