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Obama to explain foreign policy goals in West Point speech

May. 27, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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President Obama will detail how the U.S. intends to respond to hot spots throughout the world, including Ukraine, Iran and Syria, during a speech Wednesday at West Point, a White House official tells Military Times.

For the remainder of his time in office, Obama will aim for a foreign policy that is “both interventionist and internationalist, but not isolationist or unilateral,” the official said.

“On counter-terrorism, the president will talk about how the threat has changed and how an effective U.S. strategy will adapt to combat al Qaeda and the de-centralized groups that pose a threat from South Asia to the Sahel” in Africa, the official said. “You will hear the president discuss how the United States will use all the tools in our arsenal without over-reaching.”

Obama’s speech will come one day after the White House’s announcement that 9,800 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond this year, pending approval of a security agreement with the Afghan government. That number would fall by half at the end of 2015, and then to a “nominal Embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul” by the end of 2016.

In his speech, Obama will seek to counter his critics, who claim he has been risk averse — even isolationist — in the face of a string of crises overseas; and that his administration lacks a strategy for foreign policy.

“As we reach the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it’s a natural point to describe how we see our strategy moving out of this period of war, both in terms of counter-terrorism, and also in terms of our broader priorities around the world,” the White House official said. “In addition, over the last six to nine months, we’ve had to respond to a series of big events rather than talking about our overarching policy.”

Starting Wednesday, Obama will spend 10 days laying out his administration’s foreign policy goals for the next two-and-half-years. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other cabinet members will also make speeches through the summer to explain the way forward.

“The United States is the only nation capable of galvanizing action and the president will explain why we need to put that to use in an international system that is sustainable and enduring, and that can address challenges from traditional ones, like maritime and trade issues, to emerging ones, like climate change,” the official said.

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