The Free Press, Mankato, MN


May 30, 2014

Our View: Diplomacy is not heroic but it works

Why it matters: The United States will be involved in more world conflicts and military action will not always be the solution.

President Obama’s critics likely had a lot to choose from as he addressed the graduating class at West Point military academy on the role of the U.S. military around the world in keeping the peace and protecting our interests.

His critics have begun to say he is an isolationist president, unwilling to help our allies around the world and unwilling to quash dictators who richly deserve it. Those criticisms would be more legitimate were Obama operating in a post World War II world, from which the United States emerged as the country with the least amount of infrastructure damage and its economy intact.

In those days, we could dictate peace with the threat of our sword. Some argue Harry Truman used the atom bomb for just that purpose.

But today, the world is a very different place.

It is even very different from the world George W. Bush saw as he took the helm of the U.S. presidency more than a decade ago.

Obama told the West Point cadets Wednesday that the U.S. military role will always be the “backbone” of leadership around the world.

Obama made clear the United States will clearly take that leadership role when “our people are threatened, when our livelihood is at stake or when the security of our allies is in danger.”

Obama’s critics don’t buy that.

They say he stands by while Russian President Vladimir Putin thumbs his nose at an empty U.S. response to his aggression in Ukraine.

They will likely see Obama’s speech as a further weakening of U.S. resolve.

Obama defends the combination of diplomacy, economic sanctions and military might. It’s a multi-faceted approach that he argues is working with Iran’s nuclear threats and Syria’s civil war.

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