President Obama unveiled a national security strategy on Friday that called for “strategic patience” and warned against American “overreach” — an approach that drew criticism as some lawmakers say the rising threat from the Islamic State demands a more urgent response.
The 29-page document is meant to serve as a blueprint for Obama’s final two years in office. The strategy cast the U.S. as an indispensable force in combating global challenges — including terrorism, climate change and cyber threats.
“American leadership remains essential,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said at a Brookings Institution event where she detailed the plan.
Yet the long-awaited security agenda included no major course changes in the military campaign against Islamic State militants or in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The document acknowledged serious threats abroad – and reiterated that, for the Islamic State, the goal is to “ultimately defeat” the terror group – but was imbued with a sense of restraint.
“America leads from a position of strength. But, this does not mean we can or should attempt to dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world,” the document said. “As powerful as we are and will remain, our resources and influence are not infinite. And in a complex world, many of the security problems we face do not lend themselves to quick and easy fixes.”
The strategy said the U.S. has to make “hard choices” and “resist the over-reach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear.”
“The challenges we face require strategic patience and persistence,” the document said.