US strength not just through 'occupying countries' & 'firing missiles' - Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama. © Jonathan Ernst
America’s world supremacy is not about the number of occupied countries and fired missiles, believes the US president. Its international strength relies on diplomacy, protection of human rights and cooperation with other nations.

“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.”

READ MORE Obama: 'We have to twist arms when countries don't do what we need them to'

“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.

READ MORE Obama: Military to remain backbone of America’s leadership

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.

READ MORE Obama on CIA’s post-9/11 tactics: ‘We tortured some folks’

“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.