Engage With the World

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) — If I were President Obama, I might suggest the following on foreign policy:

"As the Cold War fades into memory, voices of isolation say America should retreat from its responsibilities. I say they are wrong. The threats we face today as Americans respect no nation's borders. Think of them: terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, organized crime, drug trafficking, ethnic and religious hatred, aggression by rogue states, environmental degradation. If we fail to address these threats today, we will suffer the consequences in all our tomorrows.

"Of course, we can't be everywhere. Of course, we can't do everything. But where our interests and our values are at stake, and where we can make a difference, America must lead. We must not be isolationist.

"To those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

"We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed."

These lines are not original; they are from Presidents Bill Clinton in 1996 and John F. Kennedy in 1961.

(Amity Shlaes is a Bloomberg View columnist and the director of the Four Percent Growth Project at the Bush Institute. Her biography, "Coolidge," will be published in February 2013. The opinions expressed are her own. This is one of 11 suggestions Bloomberg View columnists made for the foreign policy section of Barack Obama's State of the Union address.)

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

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To book Amity Shlaes for a speaking engagement, contact Jamie Brickhouse at the Red Brick Agency, 646.281.9041.
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