Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on President Obama’s remarks on U.S. foreign policy at the United States Military Academy at West Point:
“Actions speak louder than words. And when our friends and enemies around the world seek the measure of America and its President, what do we think will carry more weight: The President's nice words today at West Point – or his decision yesterday to withdraw all of our troops from Afghanistan out of concern for his political legacy, whether or not our goals have been achieved and our hard-won gains can be sustained?
“I agree with much of what the President said today about American exceptionalism, our role as the indispensable nation, our enduring capacity for global leadership, and the continuing need for it. The problem is that the President is not translating these principles into effective policies, and today's speech gives little reason to believe that this will change.
“It is unfortunate that the President once again fell back on his familiar tactic of attacking straw-men, posturing as the voice of reason between extremes, and suggesting that the only alternative to his policies is the unilateral use of military force everywhere. Literally no one is proposing that, and it is intellectually dishonest to suggest so. As our Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said recently, ‘to those who would argue that a head of state or government has to choose only between doing nothing and sending in the military – I maintain that is a constructed and false choice, an accompaniment only to disengagement and passivity.’
“It is a truism that no problem we face has a purely military solution. The real choice is how to combine our tools of soft power and hard power in order to avoid conflict, secure our interests and ideals, and meet our challenges through effective deterrence and diplomacy. The President's failure in this regard can be seen in Russia's aggression in Europe, China's coercion of U.S. allies and partners in Asia, Syria's transformation into a regional sectarian conflict, the growth of Al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa, and elsewhere. None of these challenges are the fault of our President, but nothing he has done has been sufficient to address them.
“There is a growing perception worldwide that America is unreliable, distracted, and unwilling to lead. Our nation's capacity is not in question, but our resolve and judgment are. Speeches alone did not cause this dangerous development, and more speeches will not correct it. We need better actions, and that starts with a more honest debate of the real choices we face and the proper options at our disposal.”