The document will be Obama’s second, and likely last, before he leaves office in early 2017. It aims to rebut criticism that he has consistently waited too long to respond to challenges like the rise of the Islamic State and Moscow’s military aggression in Ukraine, allowing the problems to worsen while his administration debated ways to act.
The document argues that such an approach was instead part of a carefully constructed strategy designed to ensure that the United States considered all options before getting ensnared in risky and potentially open-ended conflicts. It will effectively make the case for Obama as a prudent president who was ever mindful of possible future risks rather than an overly cautious one unwilling to act aggressively in the nation’s defense.
Obama will introduce his strategy by arguing that the United States remains the strongest global military and economic power — even if the country lacks enough influence or resources to solve all the world’s problems.
A person who has seen the document, and described it to Foreign Policy on condition of anonymity, said the strategy document is meant to explain and defend Obama’s reluctance to use military might for crises that are unlikely to be solved quickly or easily. In the document, the administration summarizes its worldview as one of “strategic patience,” this person said.