AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — President Barack Obama implored the next generation of U.S. military leaders Thursday not to give in to isolationism or pull back from U.S. leadership in the world, drawing a contrast with a foreign policy vision that’s been laid out by Donald Trump.
Obama used his final commencement address as president to reassure the military that it remains the world’s dominant fighting force, implicitly pushing back against critiques that the military’s might has ebbed under his watch. Under searing sun and sweeping blue skies at the U.S. Air Force Academy, he told graduates they’d be called upon to strike a complicated balance between realism and idealism, withdrawal and overreach.
“We can’t be isolationists. It’s not possible in this globalized, interconnected world,” Obama said. “In these uncertain times, it’s tempting sometimes to try to pull back and wash our hands from conflicts that seem intractable, let other countries fend of themselves.”
Calling isolationism a “false comfort,” he added that history had shown how “oceans alone cannot protect us.”
Though Obama didn’t mention Trump or any other presidential candidates, his intended target was clear. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has called repeatedly for putting “America first” by rethinking U.S. alliances, spending less to ensure other countries’ security and enacting strict tariffs that Trump acknowledges could potentially lead to a trade war. READ MORE OF THIS STORY