Obama defends global leadership at Air Force Academy
May 23rd, 2012
05:10 PM ET

Obama defends global leadership at Air Force Academy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) - President Barack Obama delivered a strong defense of his international leadership at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Wednesday, telling graduating cadets they'll be building on "new era of American leadership."

Obama told the incoming corps of second lieutenants they are stepping into "a different world" than the one the United States faced when they entered the academy in 2008.

"Four years ago, you arrived here at a time of extraordinary challenge for our nation. Our forces were engaged in two wars. Al Qaeda, which had attacked us on 9/11, was entrenched in their safe havens," he said. "Many of our alliances were strained, and our standing in the world had suffered."

Today, Obama said, "You are the first class in nine years that will graduate into a world where there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in your lives - and thanks to Air Force personnel who did their part - Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to our country. We've put al Qaeda on the path to defeat. And you are the first graduates since 9/11 who can see clearly how we'll end the war in Afghanistan."

Obama's commencement address came as he faces an expected tough fight against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Recent polling, including an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey out Tuesday, shows voters give the president better marks for his handling of foreign affairs than the U.S. economy, consistently the top issue for voters.

At the Air Force Academy, Obama said his administration not only is bringing a decade of war to an end, "We're doing so in a way that makes us safer and stronger."

"Even as we've done the work of ending these wars, we've laid the foundation for a new era of American leadership," Obama said. "And now, cadets, we have to build on it."

Obama noted that the U.S. military, including the Air Force, "will be leaner" in the coming years, but he pledged to keep them "fast, flexible and versatile." A new "American Century" will see the United States leading the world not only militarily, but economically, diplomatically and with "the power of our ideals," he added, noting that how other countries view the United States "has consequences for our national security and for your lives."

"See, when other countries and people see us as a partner, they're more willing to work with us. It's why more countries joined us in Afghanistan and Libya. It's why nations like Australia are welcoming our forces, who stand side by side with allies and partners in the South Pacific. It's why Uganda and its African neighbors have welcomed our trainers to help defeat a brutal army that slaughters its citizens."

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Lionel

    Way to go President Obama. You have shown great leadership and you will be rewarded in november.

    Don't worry about the haters, bigots and racists. America will overcome and move forward.

    Obama / Biden 2012

    May 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • John

      So the people who voted for this guy last time and will not this time because of what he has done to this country are bigots, haters and racists? Another classic liberal statement... I am not sure what you are looking at, but all indications show this country is not moving forward with any sustained growth. In addition to that, the class warfare is destroying what this country stands for.
      I grew up in a very poor environment. My day worked in a mill and my mom was a stay at home mom raising 4 kids. What I heard from my parents while growing up was I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard. I have done ok, but my point is, I never heard envy or anything close to envy towards rich people. What the president is doing, his envy program to get votes, is very bad for America.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:43 am |
      • jean2009

        Gee John I don't know any of those people you are talking about. I actually know people who didn't vote for him the last time who will vote for him this time, and some who voted for George W Bush that will no longer vote Rethughliklan.

        May 24, 2012 at 7:08 am |
      • John

        How disingenuous Jean. It doesn't surprise me though. You tried to avoid the point I made in my post – how "presidential" of you.
        So Jean, you think not one person who voted for Obama will not vote for him this time? So all those reports about the millions Obama got from Wall street that he is not getting this time around is not true?

        May 24, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  2. italmn

    The President has done a great job, foreign and actually domestic too considering the mess he got day 1. And the NO from the GOP on EVERYTHING he is trying to do for the people out of work still. Just wait till November the people will be ther for him and he will be re-elected.

    May 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  3. C Williams

    Leadership? right. What about the doctor in Pakistan that got Bin Laden for you? What about leadership for him.

    GOP Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, expressed concern Wednesday about the extent of the Obama administration’s efforts to protect the Pakistan doctor who was sentenced to 33 years in prison, and sent to prison in Pakistan for treason and conspiring against the state.

    "This has been handled very poorly right from the time of the raid," He was asked only to help locate Al Qaeda terrorists, who threaten Pakistan and the U.S he helped save Pakistani and American lives. His activities were not treasonous, they were heroic and patriotic." many Pakistani officials, especially those working for the country's powerful spy agency, do not see it that way. "He was working for a foreign spy agency. We are looking after our national interests," said a Pakistani intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the agency's policy.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • jean2009


      Maybe you need to refresh your memory.

      Fact is Pakistan is not a friend of America...it is just in it for the money. Then ask yourself who was fighting tooth and nail to send all that aid to Pakistan.


      May 24, 2012 at 7:21 am |
      • John

        Jean, either you think Obama is in charge or he is not. There are many excuses out there of why people can't get their jobs done, but you libs have more excuses for Obama than anyone in history.

        May 24, 2012 at 8:19 am |
      • Kool-Aid Police

        $50.00 fine for revising history in Obama's favor.

        May 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  4. RS, CA

    Obama looks ridiculous in this photo: skinny kid with big mouth. There's absolutely nothing impressive about this guy that says "leadership." Embarrassment!

    May 24, 2012 at 5:12 am |
    • John

      It does look a little weird. It is so unusual coming from CNN. They usually portray him with "presidential type photos", unlike Romney who is usually portrayed as someone a little stressed. Someone actually tried to tell us yesterday that CNN is not totally left leaning. I am guessing they do not read or watch CNN much.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • jean2009

      Looks? Only morons judge leadership on looks.


      May 24, 2012 at 7:26 am |
      • John

        Jean, you write this statement then you provide pictures of a former leader to look at and make fun of?
        Gotta love you libs and your hypocrisy. It is like the whole Fluke/birth control issue. You libs killed Rush for his comments and tried to boycott him off the air. Now we have this incident with "Hustler Mag" and a picture of S.C. Cupp. This is much, much worse that what Rush said and this picture will be on the web for everyone to see for years to come (including her family members). But we all know the president won't say anything about this one because it doesn't fit his agenda. He has proven he does not want to be the president of all Americans, just the ones who will vote for him. At least Fluke came out against it. I assume she felt she had no choice given the situation she was put in by the Dems.

        May 24, 2012 at 8:16 am |
      • Kool-Aid Police

        $20.00 fine for excessive Obama worship.

        May 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
      • jerry

        yes, obama got elected on his silly books..you are right, American judged him based on his books...chucked full of lies and distortions as they were...fool us once!

        May 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  5. John

    New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to 370,000 from an upwardly-revised 372,000 the week prior. Economists expected claims to hold steady at a previously reported 370,000. This is clearly Obama speak. The first line is classic "New claims for unemployment fell last week". So we revise the number from last week upward by 2,000 then we announce a decrease in claims (by 2,000)?

    May 24, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • DEcember 2012




      May 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  6. jerry

    to mention obamas name in the very statement concerning global leadership is a travesty. He strutted around at camp david and the G8...the leaders treated him graciously, noted, and smiled then went home and took care of business...they know what/who obama is an empty shirt and narcissist. Just a few months and we will have adult leadership...like Germany.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • DEcember 2012


      May 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
      • jerry

        ford...good old ford. Had BMWs though...several. Got a yacht too...and it is American made.

        May 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
      • Steveo

        Wow Decemeber! Even for you, that was a weak. whiney, jealous comment! Just for your info. Middle class Americans work for BMW. You see, they actually have plants here AND got no government hands out to boot!

        May 25, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • DEcember 2012



      May 26, 2012 at 12:29 am |
      • Steveo

        Actually I like Holiday Inns.. I got a rewards card!!

        May 27, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  7. Tackleberry

    Exactly, a u n rep

    May 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  8. Nothername

    U. N. FIRST U. S. A. LAST

    May 26, 2012 at 12:50 am |
  9. A

    Most corrupt regime in HIRTORY

    May 26, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  10. Bartn Tappem

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    July 13, 2012 at 2:21 am |