Obama: 'We can't be isolationists'
© Getty Images

President Obama on Thursday warned Americans against the desire to pull back from world affairs, rebutting the foreign policy of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer chairman of Wisconsin GOP party signals he will comply with Jan. 6 committee subpoena Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon tells Russia to stand down Billionaire GOP donor maxed out to Manchin following his Build Back Better opposition MORE.


Speaking to graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Obama derided isolationism as a “false comfort” that will put the country at risk of future terror attacks and diminish the United States's reputation abroad.

“America cannot shirk the mantle of leadership,” the president said. “We can’t be isolationists. It’s not possible in this globalized, interconnected world.”

Obama acknowledged that “it’s tempting to pull back” and “wash our hands of conflicts that seem intractable.” But he said that attacks such as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 show that “oceans alone cannot protect us.”

The president’s commencement address in Colorado Springs, Colo., marked the second consecutive day he spent going after Trump. 

Trump has questioned the value of NATO and suggested that allied nations such as Japan and South Korea should foot the cost of hosting U.S. troops on their soil.

Without naming him, Obama also appeared to rebuke Trump’s desire to “take out” the families of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants.

“When we use force, we have a responsibility to use it proportionally, unlike terrorists, who try to kill as many people as possible,” Obama said.

He noted the U.S. military goes to “extraordinary lengths” to avoid civilian casualties, calling them “deaths that haunt us all.”

The president also defended his policies in Syria and Libya, which have come under fire due to the violence and instability in both of those nations.

Obama acknowledged the situation in Syria is “heartbreaking" and "gut-wrenching,” but he said that calls for deeper American troop involvement “have to be fully thought through.”

In Syria, he said it is important that Americans not be "dragged into the middle of another civil war in the Middle East."

Obama attacked Trump's economic policies during a speech in Elkhart, Ind., on Wednesday. Likely Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLet's 'reimagine' political corruption The Armageddon elections to come Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second MORE is expected to go after her GOP rival in a national security speech later Thursday.