President Obama this week brought his unique brand of leadership to the U.S. Military Academy. Speaking at the West Point graduation, the commander-in-chief outlined a foreign policy that sharply differed from the Bush Doctrine that was proclaimed from that same podium eight years ago.
In those tense, post-9/11 days, George W. Bush declared that the U.S. would carry the fight to our jihadist enemies, that we would not wait for those who were preparing weapons of mass destruction to strike us a first, devastating blow, and that we would regard any government that harbored terrorists as a foe. The Bush Doctrine was certainly controversial then. It has been effectively superseded by the Obama Doctrine. President Obama recognized that America’s economy is the basis of America’s military strength. No argument there. He told the Corps of Cadets, that illustrious “Long Gray Line,” including hundreds of graduates who will soon join their brothers in combat:
Simply put, American innovation must be the foundation of American power - because at no time in human history has a nation of diminished economic vitality maintained its military and political primacy. And so that means that the civilians among us, as parents and community leaders, elected officials, business leaders, we have a role to play. We cannot leave it to those in uniform to defend this country - we have to make sure that America is building on its strengths.
During World War II, American productivity saved freedom for the world. But Obama’s economic policies will choke American innovation. Small businesses are already contemplating the grim decision whether to lay off workers or pay the fine and dump their employees from company-provided health plans. Obama’s Cap & Trade legislation, should it be passed, will vastly increase the cost of doing business. At the very time the President seeks to engage “soft power”--economic and non-military resources, his policies are rendering that power ineffective.
We will be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well, including those who will serve by your side in Afghanistan and around the globe. As influence extends to more countries and capitals, we also have to build new partnerships, and shape stronger international standards and institutions.