Home International Obama outlines vision of military might with diplomacy

Obama outlines vision of military might with diplomacy

By Arun Kumar,

Washington: India barely figured as US President Barack Obama Wednesday outlined a foreign policy vision of using both military might unilaterally as also diplomatic tools of alliances and sanctions to exert influence and provide global leadership.

“Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will,” he told graduating cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point.

Military “is and always will be the backbone of that leadership,” he said. “But US military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.”

“And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader — and especially your commander-in-chief — to be clear about how that awesome power should be used,” said Obama, who is accused by critics of following a passive foreign policy.

His only reference to India came in the context of how “From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums.”

Outlining his “vision for how the United States of America and our military should lead in the years to come”, Obama repeated “a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency” that the US “will use military force unilaterally if necessary”.

It would do so “when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened, when our livelihoods are at stake, when the security of our allies is in danger,” he said.

“In these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just.”

“International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland, or our way of life,” Obama said amid applause.

“On the other hand, when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States,” he said, “we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilise allies and partners to take collective action”.

“We have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law; and, if just, necessary and effective, multilateral military action,” he said.

“In such circumstances, we have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, less likely to lead to costly mistakes,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])