Getty Images

President Obama cautioned that “our resources and influence are not infinite” Friday, as his administration released its 2015 National Security Strategy.

He also emphasized his belief that the United States must not “overreach” and insisted that American strategy cannot “rely solely on military power.”

Obama’s comments came in a letter accompanying the official document outlining the national security strategy.

The administration’s overall approach, viewed as prudent by the White House, has often been criticized as weak by more hawkish figures, particularly in the Republican Party.

{mosads}The pattern continued Friday as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) blasted the document.

“The Obama Doctrine, or ‘strategic patience,’ has led to a world in chaos,” Graham said in a statement, going on to highlight challenges in Iran, the Middle East more generally, Russia and Cuba. 

“I doubt ISIL, the Iranian mullahs, or [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will be intimidated by President Obama’s strategy of ‘strategic patience.’ From their point of view, the more ‘patience’ President Obama practices the stronger they become,” Graham said.  

The document stresses that the United States is not inherently antagonistic to Islam and offers a restrained framework for military action. 

It also highlights the benefits of U.S. forces acting in tandem with others, rather than unilaterally.

It calls for transitioning to a “sustainable global security posture that combines our decisive capabilities with local partners and keeps pressure on al-Qa’ida, ISIL, and their affiliates.” ISIL is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. 

“We reject the lie that America and its allies are at war with Islam,” the White House document adds. “We will continue to act lawfully. Outside of areas of active hostilities, we endeavor to detain, interrogate, and prosecute terrorists through law enforcement.” 

On Russian aggression against Ukraine, the strategy paper is vague on support for Ukraine, but pledges to “continue to impose significant costs on Russia through sanctions and other means.” 

On Iran, the paper maintained the administration’s preference for talks “to achieve a comprehensive and verifiable deal that assures Iran’s nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.”

The issue of Iran’s nuclear program, and what the United States should do about it, continues to roil Capitol Hill.

Despite the cautionary notes expressed about overreach, the document paints a rosy picture of the United States and its position in the world. It casts the United States as in a position of global strength with a “resurgent economy, increased energy security” and an “unrivaled military.” 

“Today, the United States is stronger and better positioned to seize the opportunities of a still new century and safeguard our interests against the risks of an insecure world,” a White House fact sheet said. 

The strategy paper is required by law every year, but administrations have only released them sporadically. The Obama administration last released one in 2010. 

The updated version largely sticks to goals outlined in that version, which called for the end of large ground wars, and instead pursuing terrorists through limited military means, law enforcement, and a reliance on local partners. 

Although the paper said the U.S. “counterterrorism approach is at work with several states, including Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq,” it notably leaves out Yemen, which the president touted as a counterterrorism model in September. 

The strategy also calls for working with Congress to end defense cuts under sequestration. 

“With the Congress, we must end sequestration and enact critical reforms to build a versatile and responsive force prepared for a more diverse set of contingencies,” it says. 

The paper prioritizes defense spending in nuclear deterrence, cybersecurity, space, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. 

It also pledges to take care of troops: “We will honor our sacred trust with Veterans and the families and communities that support them, making sure those who have served have the benefits, education, and opportunities they have earned.” 

Jesse Byrnes contributed.

Tags Iran ISIL ISIS Islamic State Lindsey Graham President Obama Russia Ukraine

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video