US strength not just through 'occupying countries' & 'firing missiles' - Obama
“The measure of strength internationally is not simply by how many countries we're occupying, or how many missiles we're firing, but the strength of our diplomacy and the strength of our commitment to human rights and our belief that we've got to cooperate with other countries together to solve massive problems like terrorism, but also like climate change,” the Washington Examiner cited Barack Obama as saying on Wednesday while addressing a 350-person fundraiser in Potomac, Maryland.
Obama made the statement on the seventh anniversary of his first-term presidential election, answering Republican critics that label his external policy as toothless.
As recently as February, the president acknowledged that the US relied on its military strength and other leverage to achieve its goals, saying that “American leadership” at times entails “twisting the arms” of states which “don’t do what we need them to do.”
“We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn't do what we need them to do if it weren't for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we had — if we didn't have that dose of realism, we wouldn't get anything done, either,” President Obama said in an interview with Vox.
In May, Obama gave a speech at West Point Military Academy’s graduation ceremony in which he said “America must always lead on the world stage.”
“If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership,” Obama said.
He stressed that the US military potential remains at the core of America’s ability to influence changes abroad, therefore the Pentagon reserves the power to launch unilateral attacks when US interests are directly threatened.
“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions,” Obama stated.
“The question we face – the question you will face – is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also to extend peace and prosperity around the globe,” the president told the cadets.
Obama made headlines again in August when he told a press briefing that US "tortured some folks," speaking about enhanced interrogation tactics in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
“In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did things that were contrary to our values,” Obama said.