During a major foreign policy speech on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said Washington would continue to use military force unilaterally “when our core interests demand it.”
On the Syrian conflict, Obama promised to work with Congress to increase America’s support for the foreign-backed insurgents fighting against the Syrian government.
Obama’s announcement came amid reports that Washington plans to start training militants in a secret base in Qatar to attack Syrian government troops and vehicles.
Speaking to graduates from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, the US president also defended Pentagon’s deadly drone strikes in several countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. But he vowed more transparency in this regard.
International reports show that US drone strikes abroad mainly lead to huge civilian casualties.
Commenting on Iran’s nuclear energy program, Obama reiterated that Washington reserves all options to “prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” referring to the war option. He also said there’s an opportunity to resolve problems with Tehran peacefully.
Iran has been negotiating with the United States and five other countries – France, Germany, Britain, Russian and China – over its nuclear energy program. Authorities in Tehran have let UN inspectors visit all Iranian nuclear facilities in a goodwill gesture. However, Washington and its European allies insist that Tehran might intend to pursue a military program, an allegation Iranians strongly reject.
Obama’s speech was aimed at defending his administration’s foreign policy strategies, which have come under increasing criticism from Republicans who say America’s global influence has diminished as a result of those weak policies.
The president’s speech came one day after he outlined plans to wind down America’s longest running war in Afghanistan by the end of 2016. The plan calls for keeping 9,800 troops in Afghanistan for training and counterterrorism even after combat missions end later this year.