PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you, General Caslen, for that introduction. General Trainor, General Clarke, faculty and staff at West Point, you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution and outstanding mentors for the newest officers in the United States Army.
I’d like to acknowledge the Army’s leadership -- General McHugh -- Secretary McHugh, General Odierno, as well as Senator Jack Reed who is here and a proud graduate of West Point himself. To the class of 2014, I congratulate you on taking your place on the Long Gray Line.
Among you is the first all-female command team: Erin Mauldin and Austen Boroff. In Calla Glavin, you have a Rhodes Scholar, and Josh Herbeck proves that West Point accuracy extends beyond the three point line. (Laughter.)
To the entire class, let me reassure you in these final hours at West Point, as commander in chief, I hereby absolve all cadets who are on restriction for minor conduct offenses. (Laughter, applause.)
Let me just say that nobody ever did that for me when I was in school.
I know you join me in extending a word of thanks to your families. Joe DeMoss, whose son James is graduating, spoke for a whole lot of parents when he wrote me a letter about the sacrifices you’ve made. “Deep inside,” he wrote, “we want to explode with pride at what they are committing to do in the service of our country.” Like several graduates, James is a combat veteran, and I would ask all of us here today to stand and pay tribute not only to the veterans among us, but to the more than 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their families. (Applause.)
It is a particularly useful time for America to reflect on those who’ve sacrificed so much for our freedom, a few days after Memorial Day. You are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. (Cheers, applause.)
When I first spoke at West Point in 2009, we still had more than 100,000 troops in Iraq. We were preparing to surge in Afghanistan. Our counterterrorism efforts were focused on al-Qaida’s core leadership -- those who had carried out the 9/11 attacks. And our nation was just beginning a long climb out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Four and a half years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed. We have removed our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida’s leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated, and Osama bin Laden is no more. (Cheers, applause.) And through it all, we’ve refocused our investments in what has always been a key source of American strength: a growing economy that can provide opportunity for everybody who’s willing to work hard and take responsibility here at home.
In fact, by most measures America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise -- who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away -- are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.
Think about it. Our military has no peer. The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low, and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War. Meanwhile, our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth, our businesses the most innovative. Each year, we grow more energy independent. From Europe to Asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivaled in the history of nations.
America continues to attract striving immigrants. The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe. And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help. (Applause.) So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century past, and it will be true for the century to come.
But the world is changing with accelerating speed. This presents opportunity, but also new dangers. We know all too well, after 9/11, just how technology and globalization has put power once reserved for states in the hands of individuals, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm.
Russia’s aggression towards former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors.
From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts, failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago.
It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.
Now, this question isn’t new. At least since George Washington served as commander in chief, there have been those who warned against foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic well-being.
Today, according to self-described realists, conflicts in Syria or Ukraine or the Central African Republic are not ours to solve. And not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges here at home, that view is shared by many Americans.
A different view, from interventionists from the left and right, says that we ignore these conflicts at our own peril, that America’s willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and America’s failure to act in the face of Syrian brutality or Russian provocations not only violates our conscience, but invites escalating aggression in the future.
And each side can point to history to support its claims, but I believe neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment. It is absolutely true that in the 21st century, American isolationism is not an option. We don’t have a choice to ignore what happens beyond our borders. If nuclear materials are not secure, that poses a danger to American citizens.
美国将继续吸纳奋发图强的外国移民。我们的建 国理念激励着各国议会的领导人，也激励着世界各地在公共广场上发起的新运动。当台风袭击菲律宾的时候，当尼日利亚女学生遭到绑架的时候，当蒙面歹徒攻占乌 克兰政府大楼的时候，全世界都翘首以待美国的援助之手。（掌声）因此，美国始终是一个无可取代的国家，上个世纪如此，下个世纪亦是如此。
从巴西到印度，新兴中产阶级在与我们展开竞 争，此外，各国谋求在国际事务中争取更多话语权。尽管发展中国家拥护民主、认同市场经济，但全天候新闻以及社交媒体报道使得人们无法对接连发生在这些国家 的派系冲突、国家衰败与民众暴动等事件视而不见。然而，这些对于上一代人而言，只能引来他们的“侧目”罢了。
然而，干涉主义者对此持不同观点。他们认为， 无视这些冲突最终会危及我们自身，美国在全球充当“世界警察”角色的意愿能够最彻底地保卫世界安全，使其免于陷入混乱。而若美国对叙利亚的暴乱或俄罗斯的 挑衅撒手不管、无所作为的话，那么这不仅违背我们的良心，也会使得这些行径在未来愈演愈烈。