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As the Syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle-hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases. Regional aggression that goes unchecked, whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea or anywhere else in the world, will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military. We can’t ignore what happens beyond our boundaries.

And beyond these narrow rationales, I believe we have a real stake -- abiding self-interest -- in making sure our children and our grandchildren grow up in a world where schoolgirls are not kidnapped; where individuals aren’t slaughtered because of tribe or faith or political belief.

I believe that a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative; it also helps keep us safe.

But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution. Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action, without leveling with the American people about the sacrifices required. Tough talk often draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans. As General Eisenhower, someone with hard-earned knowledge on this subject, said at this ceremony in 1947, “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.”

Like Eisenhower, this generation of men and women in uniform know all too well the wages of war, and that includes those of you here at West Point. Four of the service members who stood in the audience when I announced the surge of our forces in Afghanistan gave their lives in that effort. A lot more were wounded.

I believe America’s security demanded those deployments. But I am haunted by those deaths. I am haunted by those wounds. And I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm’s way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak.

Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only -- or even primary -- component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.

And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader -- and especially your commander in chief -- to be clear about how that awesome power should be used. So let me spend the rest of my time describing my vision for how the United States of America, and our military, should lead in the years to come, for you will be part of that leadership.

First, let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it -- when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.

In these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just. International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland or our way of life. (Applause.)

On the other hand, when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States, when such issues are at stake, when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten us, then the threshold for military action must be higher. In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. We have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development, sanctions and isolation, appeals to international law, and, if just, necessary and effective, multilateral military action. In such circumstances, we have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, less likely to lead to costly mistakes.

This leads to my second point. For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America, at home and abroad, remains terrorism, but a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naive and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counterterrorism strategy, drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.

And the need for a new strategy reflects the fact that today’s principal threat no longer comes from a centralized al-Qaida leadership. Instead it comes from decentralized al-Qaida affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in the countries where they operate. And this lessens the possibility of large-scale 9/11-style attacks against the homeland, but it heightens the danger of U.S. personnel overseas being attacked, as we saw in Benghazi. It heightens the danger to less defensible targets, as we saw in a shopping mall in Nairobi. So we have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat, one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin or stir up local resentments.

We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us. And empowering partners is a large part of what we have done and what we are currently doing in Afghanistan. Together with our allies, America struck huge blows against al-Qaida core and pushed back against an insurgency that threatened to overrun the country.

But sustaining this progress depends on the ability of Afghans to do the job. And that’s why we trained hundreds of thousands of Afghan soldiers and police. Earlier this spring, those forces -- those Afghan forces -- secured an election in which Afghans voted for the first democratic transfer of power in their history. And at the end of this year, a new Afghan president will be in office, and America’s combat mission will be over.




尽管我们有意向在全球倡导和平与自由,但这并 不意味着我们要借助军事手段来解决每个问题。二战结束以来,我们所犯的那些严重的错误,皆源自我们倾向于以诉诸武力的方式来解决问题,而对后果考虑不周、 缺乏国际支持及法律支持,也没有向美国人民交代他们需要作出的牺牲,以使他们心中有数。虽然强硬的表态时常占据报纸头条,但战争却很少与口号“步调一 致”。正如对这个问题深有体会的艾森豪威尔将军(General Eisenhower),于1947年在西点军校毕业典礼上所说的那样:“战争是人类最悲惨、最愚笨的蠢行,无论是蓄意挑起战争,还是为其献计献策,这都 是对全人类犯下的滔天罪行。”


我认为,出于维护美国国家安全的考虑,这些军 事部署是很有必要的。但是,这些伤亡者的英魂和伤痛一直萦绕在我的脑海、令我难安。如果我将你们派上战场,仅仅是因为世界某地出现问题需要处理,或是担心 批评家会将军事不作为视作是美国软弱的表现,那么,我就违背了自己对你们、对这个我们所爱国家的职责了。





另一方面,当引起世界关注但没有直接威胁到美 国利益的危机产生时,当这些问题亟待解决时,当能触动我们的良心或推动世界向更危险的方向发展但不对美国构成直接威胁的危机出现时,我们更不能轻易采取军 事行动。在这种情况下,我们不应该单打独斗。相反,我们必须动员盟友和合作伙伴采取集体行动。我们应该广泛使用各种手段,包括外交和发展、制裁和孤立、诉 诸于国际法,甚至在必要情况下采取多边军事行动。在这些情况下,我们必须与其他国家合作,因为集体行动更容易成功,持续性强,还可以减少代价惨痛的错 误。”

这引出了我的第二个观点。在可预见的未来,不 管国内还是国外,对美国最直接的威胁仍是恐怖主义。但是,那种对每个包庇恐怖主义组织的国家都采取进攻手段的战略未免过于天真,也不可能长期进行。我认 为,我们必须从伊拉克和阿富汗问题上汲取经验和教训,将美国打击恐怖主义的战略转变为与那些国内有恐怖组织基地的国家进行有效的伙伴合作。

并且,对新战略的需求反映出一个事实:今天我 们主要的威胁不再是来自于基地组织的集中领导,而是来自分散的“基地”组织分支机构和极端分子,其中很多都在他们从事活动的国家内进行活动。虽然这种情况 降低了美国本土遭受大规模9•11式袭击的可能性,但是就像我们在班加西(Benghazi)看到的那样,这会增加美国海外人员遇险的可能性。就像我们在 内罗毕(Nairobi)购物商场看到的那样,这还会增加防备薄弱目标遇险的可能性。因此,我们需要制定战略应对这种传播式的威胁,这一战略必须能够在不 派遣军队、避免战线过长、避免引发当地不满情绪的前提下扩大我们的影响力。


但是,决定这个进程能否持续下去的是阿富汗人 民在处理这一问题上的能力。这就是我们训练成千上万的阿富汗士兵和警察的原因。今年春天早些时候,这些部队,这些阿富汗部队保障了选举的进行,阿富汗人为 该国史上第一次政权的民主移交进行了投票。今年年底,阿富汗新总统将上任,届时美国作战部队的使命也将完成。

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