Obama's Unheralded Goal: Getting Foreign Policy Off Combat Track
by Jules Witcover
The most poignant moment in President Obama's fifth State of the Union address came near the end, when he introduced the Army Ranger severely wounded in
As the heavily decorated Sgt.
Remsburg was serving as a Normandy guide to him then, Obama recalled. "A few months later on his tenth deployment," he said, "Cory was nearly killed in a massive roadside bombing in
Obama went on to recount how Remsburg lay in a coma for months. When the president next encountered him in a hospital, he was recovering from much surgery and was blind in one eye. But, Obama reported to
There were many teary eyes in the crowd, and in one sense the sergeant's appearance was just another of those
But the courageous Ranger's presence in another sense was a critical reminder of the price ordinary Americans in the military pay every day, and many for the rest of their lives, for the decisions of their civilian leaders who send them to war, sometimes of necessity, sometimes not.
Obama in his brief remarks on foreign policy reviewed the overseas deployments of the first five years of his presidency, citing the imperative of engaging terrorists that imperil America wherever they crop up. But he also took note of the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from
While vowing to send Americans wherever required to protect this country, Obama pointedly said: "I will never send our troops into harm's way unless it is truly necessary, nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts. We must fight the battles that must be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us -- large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism."
He continued: "So even as we aggressively pursue terrorist networks ... America must move off a permanent war footing." In so doing, he said, he will be relying more on diplomacy to resolve foreign disputes, noting that "American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why
Obama also claimed, perhaps too optimistically, that it was the resort to "American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of
In the same vein of contending to move from decade-long wartime status, Obama renewed his failed earlier commitment to close the detention center at
As a lead-in to his salute to Sgt. Remsburg, the president also reminded
Most of Obama's State of the Union address focused on his domestic agenda stuck in an uncooperative