In a globalised economy, it is not possible to stop trading goods and services with other nations, President Barack Obama said today in an apparent dig at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“As we navigate this complex world, America cannot shirk the mantle of leadership. We can’t be isolationists. It’s not possible in this globalised, interconnected world,” Obama said in his commencement address to the Air Force Academy.
“In these uncertain times, it’s tempting, sometimes, to pull back, to try to wash our hands of conflicts that seem intractable, let other countries fend for themselves. But history teaches us, from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, that oceans alone cannot protect us. Hateful ideologies can spark terror, from Boston to San Bernardino,” he added.
“In a global economy, it’s not possible to stop trading goods and services with other countries. Weak public health systems on the other side of the world allow diseases to develop that end up reaching our shores. So, we cannot turn inward; we cannot give into isolationism,” he said.
“That’s a false comfort. Allowing problems to fester over there makes us less secure here. So, as Americans, we have to keep leading and working with others to build the security and prosperity and justice we want in the world. By the way, one of the most effective ways to lead and work with others is through treaties that advance our interests,” he said.
Obama said lately, there has been a mindset in Congress that just about any international treaty is somehow a violation of American sovereignty, and so the Senate almost never approves treaties any more.
“So, if we’re truly concerned about China’s actions in the South China Sea, for example, the Senate should help strengthen our case by approving the Law of the Sea Convention, as our military leaders have urged,” Obama said.
He said as powerful as US military is, Americans have to remember that many of the threats to their security cannot be solved by military force alone.
“We’ve got to draw on every tool, all elements of our national power. When we invest in the development that promotes education and opportunity around the globe, it can make conflicts and military interventions less likely later,” he said.
Even as the US is well-positioned to lead the world, it is facing a major threat from terrorist groups.
“We face serious threats. Terrorist networks slaughter the innocent and plot attacks against our nation,” he said.
“Civil wars, like in Iraq, tear countries apart and create humanitarian catastrophes and havens for terrorists. Russian aggression against Ukraine. Disputes in the South China Sea. These are testing an international order that we built, where the sovereignty of nations is respected and all nations abide by the same rules,” Obama said.
“Nuclear weapons, as in South Korea and the specter of nuclear terrorism still threatens us all,” he added.