Obama: US Can't Lead With Bullets Alone

President defends foreign policy, pledges help to Syria rebels
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2014 11:14 AM CDT
Obama: US Can't Lead With Bullets Alone
President Barack Obama applauds those who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan as he deliverers the commencement address to the US Military Academy at West Point's Class of 2014, May 28, 2014.    (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Obama will ask Congress to create a $5 billion fund to help allied governments fight terrorism, and ramp up aid to Syria's rebels, he announced today, in a wide-ranging commencement speech on foreign policy. Obama spoke to West Point's graduating class, but the speech emphasized an approach to the world lighter on military might. The military "always will be the backbone" of US leadership, he said, according to CNN, but it "cannot be the only—or primary—component of our leadership."

Obama touted a multilateral approach that he said had produced progress in Iran and helped swiftly isolate Russia following its Ukraine invasion. "This is American leadership. This is American strength." He said the US should fund countries that provide UN peacekeepers to help combat extremists around the world. "It's a smart investment. It's the right way to lead." He said there was "no military option" that would help Syria, but said propping up moderate rebels would help combat both the Assad regime and extremists. And while he affirmed that the US would continue to launch drone strikes and other unilateral attacks when necessary, he promised restraint and transparency. "Our actions must meet a simple test, we must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield." (Read more Barack Obama stories.)

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