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Category: Philosophy and Psychology

Date Submitted: 07/31/2014 11:53 PM

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The latest pronouncement of Pres. Obama on International Relation concerning the foreign policy guidelines of the US.

The president presented the case for his foreign policy at West Point. Obama's speech was long but his message simple ‘the right policy is one that is both interventionist and internationalist, but not isolationist or unilateral.’ It seeks to strike two critical balances. One is between "over reach" in presuming to rectify every one of the world's problems or turning our back on issues and developments that could threaten tangible American interests. The other is between over-reliance on military force simply because it is our strong suit or being overly hesitant in using it where and when appropriate. Underlying this affirmation of prudent engagement was the claim that "America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise, who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away, are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics."

Mr. Obama made much of a newfound strategic approach that avoids large conventional wars, on the one hand, and disengagement or severe retrenchment, on the other. Supposedly, the selective resort to high tech weaponry and surgical deployment of Special Forces offers a third way. As an abstract formulation, this may serve as the starting point for a serious discussion of strategy, not its conclusion. One does not begin with means before examining interests and purposes. The means have to be sufficient to the purposes, otherwise, either the means must be adjusted or the interests rescaled and redefined.

The president raised eyebrows by treating the recent events in Ukraine as a clear win for his measured approach. To date, the U.S. has responded to Russian moves in that former Soviet Republic by appealing to world opinion, imposing economic sanctions and rallying the NATO allies. Russia's Vladimir Putin has responded by seizing Crimea and...