It has been the week of foreign policy for U.S. President Barack Obama. He discussed America’s role in global politics and conflict in his West Point graduation address on NPR and in various announcements over the course of the week. This included, but was not limited to, his announcement on troops remaining in Afghanistan and his request to Congress to pass his Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund. In his talks, Obama put America in a position to lead, saying that the U.S. “must always lead on the world stage,” while also discussing the desire to find alternate, diplomatic means for solving conflict as opposed to military solutions. “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail,” he said.
He gave updates and explanations for key concerns overseas, explaining the administrations positions going forward on China, Russia/Ukraine, and Syria. Let’s take a look at where the nation stands — including what his opponents in Congress have to say — on three of the U.S.’s major international concerns.
1. Russia and Ukraine
Republicans have been calling the president weak in responses to Russian aggression towards Ukraine, saying that Putin fails to take the U.S. seriously because Obama has led the international community to expect a policy of uninvolvement. Obama’s interview with NPR has the chief executive claiming the exact opposite. “When you look at events in Ukraine over the last two months, there is no doubt that our ability to mobilize international opinion rapidly has changed the balance and the equation in Ukraine,” said Obama. “I just spoke yesterday to the newly elected president of Ukraine. Mr. Putin has just announced that he is moving his troops back from the borders of Ukraine.”
However, this is hardly the first time this conversation has been had or heard, as even Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney noted. A little over a week ago, Carney stated that though the U.S. had seen reports of Putin ordering troops at the border to move out, “At this point, we see no indication of any movement, which has been the case, as you note, several times before.” It’s possible that Obama is more certain of movement this time around, since, as Carney noted, “I think it’s fair to say that we would know and would be able to confirm for you if the Russian military had, in fact, moved back.” Not only is it possible, it would have to be likely that Obama has some greater indication that troop removal is actually happening this time around. “And that’s an application of American leadership that’s sustainable, consistent, and is most likely to produce the kind of results we want,” said Obama.