WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) – President Barack Obama says today’s main terrorist threat comes from decentralized al-Qaida affiliates and extremists.
Obama tells U.S. Military Academy graduates that this means the U.S. must work with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold. He says working with allies will expand America’s reach without the use of U.S. forces.
Obama says the threat from a decentralized al-Qaida lessens the possibility of large-scale 9/11-style attacks against the U.S.
But he says there is a heightened danger to U.S. personnel overseas.
Obama says the United States must lead on the world stage, but also show restraint before rushing into military operations overseas.
Obama outlined his foreign policy vision for his final two years during a commencement address.
Obama says the U.S. is emerging from a long period of war. But he says isolationism isn’t an option in the 21st century.
He says the U.S. will use force when necessary, but is stronger when it doesn’t act alone.
Obama also says he plans to work with Congress to increase support for the Syrian opposition.
The speech comes a day after Obama offered a blueprint for ending the U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan.
Obama says he will continue to “take direct action” by ordering drone strikes and capture operations against terror suspects “when necessary to protect ourselves.”
The president said there still would be times when the U.S. must go it alone. He restated a policy he disclosed last May, however, that no drone strike should occur unless there is “a near certainty” that no civilians will be harmed.
That policy has contributed to a reduction in U.S. drone attacks and claims of civilian deaths. The CIA has acknowledged to Congress, though, that a child – the brother of a targeted militant – was killed in a drone strike in Yemen last June.