Commencement Speech at West Point - History

Commencement Speech at West Point - History


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

President Kennedy (center left, holding hat) reviews honor guard cadets during graduation exercises at the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, New York. Superintendent of the USMA, Major General William C. Westmoreland (mostly hidden), walks behind President Kennedy; honor guard commander, Cadet Captain Paul J. Kirkegaard, escorts the President and Superintendent on the Plain (parade grounds) of the USMA, West Point, New York.


President John F. Kennedy (center background, at lectern) delivers an address during graduation exercises at the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, New York. Also pictured (seated on stage): Special Assistant to the President, Kenneth P. O’Donnell; Special Assistant to the President for National Security, McGeorge Bundy; General Maxwell D. Taylor; Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General George H. Decker; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lyman L. Lemnitzer; Secretary of the Army, Elvis J. Stahr, Jr.; Superintendent of the USMA, Major General William C. Westmoreland; Military Aide to the President, General Chester V. Clifton; Chaplain of the USMA, Reverend Theodore C. Speers, D.D. White House Secret Service agent, Frank Yeager, stands left of the stage. Field House, USMA, West Point, New York.


Speech to the Graduating Class,

United States Military Academy

May 29, 1942 [West Point, New York]

I appreciate the honor of being here this morning, but I would like you young men to have a sympathetic realization of the fact that it is an obviously dangerous business for a soldier to make a speech these days. Nevertheless, I welcome the opportunity to talk for a few moments to you First Classmen on your day of graduation, and to the other members of the Corps who will carry the flag after you have gone.

Two weeks from now you join a great citizen-army. In physique, in natural ability, and in intelligence, the finest personnel in the world. In their eagerness to work, to endure, and to carry through any missions, they are all that could be desired of soldiers. They but require the modern tools of their profession, the support of the people back home and, most of all, understanding leadership. Preparation for that task of leadership has been the purpose of your course at the Military Academy.

Your predecessors have usually endured long years of slow promotion. They have suffered professionally from our national habit of indifference to military precautions. You will enter the service under quite different circumstances. Your opportunities will be great and they will come soon, but your responsibilities will be far greater and more immediate.

In a few days you will find yourselves among thousands of officers who have recently won their commissions in a rigorous competition unique in the annals of our army. These officers are splendid types. They understand from personal experience the tasks, the duties and the daily problems of the private soldier. They have received intensive training in the technique of weapons and in minor tactics. They won their commissions because they proved conclusively in a grueling test that they were leaders, and that they had the necessary intelligence and initiative. Already they are familiar with the concentrations and movements of large masses of men. Many of them have participated in maneuvers which extended over a period of months and involved hundreds of thousands of troops operating over tremendous areas, covering in one instance an entire state. In other words, you will be in fast company you are to join virile, highly-developed forces. You will meet the citizen-soldiers of America at their best and, by the same token, you will have to work very hard to justify your heritage.

Within the past three years our military establishment has undergone a tremendous growth. When I became Chief of Staff, the active Army consisted of 175,000 men and 12,000 officers. Today it numbers almost as many officers as it formerly did soldiers. During the past four weeks alone it has been increased by 300,000 men, and this expansion will continue until by the end of the year there will be nearly four-and-a-half million in the ranks.

A large part of this expansion is taking place within the Air Forces. In spite of the high speed with which it must be accomplished, we know that our pilots represent the flower of American manhood, and our crews the perfection of American mechanical ingenuity. These men come from every section of the country, and pilots have been drawn from almost every college and university in the land. No finer body of men can be found. They are consumed with a determination to carry the fight into Germany and Japan—the same determination that inspired Jimmie Doolittle and his gallant band. Yet splendid as is this personnel, a unified Air Force should have a proportion of officers whose viewpoint, moulded by four years in the Corps of Cadets, includes a full understanding of those military intangibles which are epitomized in the motto of the Corps. Here, then, is one of the most important reasons for the introduction of a flying course into the Academy’s curriculum. Last Spring I insisted upon the re-arrangement of courses in order that our new Air Force should include as soon as possible a larger number of commissioned flyers imbued with the traditions and standards of West Point. 1

The path we have followed in preparing the Army during this emergency has not been an easy one. It has not been traversed overnight, and it has been up-hill all of the way. During the period prior to Pearl Harbor, my most difficult task was to progress with the mobilization and training of the Army despite the confusion, to express it mildly, that was spread throughout the ranks by a nation-wide debate regarding the necessity for organizing such an Army, as to whether or not there was an emergency which justified it, and as to what our national policy should be.

Current events remind me of questions which were put to me by members of Congress prior to December 7th, as to where American soldiers might be called upon to fight, and just what was the urgent necessity for the Army that we were endeavoring to organize and train. In reply I usually commented on the fact that we had previously fought in France, Italy, and Germany in Africa and the Far East in Siberia and Northern Russia. No one could tell what the future might hold for us. But one thing was clear to me, we must be prepared to fight anywhere, and with a minimum of delay. The possibilities were not overdrawn, for today we find American soldiers throughout the Pacific, in Burma, China, and India. Recently they struck at Tokio. They have wintered in Greenland and Iceland. They are landing in Northern Ireland and England, and they will land in France. 2 We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.

The state of the public mind has changed. Many of those who were in confusion have come to a clear conclusion as to what we must do. Our people, solidly behind the Army, are supporting wholeheartedly every measure for the prosecution of the war. The calm and the fortitude with which they accept the vicissitudes that are inevitable in a struggle that goes to the four corners of the earth are very reassuring. And our greatest reassurance comes from the courage and fortitude of the wives and parents of those who fought to the last ditch in the Philippines.

I do not know of anything which has impressed me so much with the present implacable state of mind of the American people as the letters I received from the wives and mothers of those men in the Philippines who went down in the struggle, either as casualties or prisoners. Their heroic messages of fortitude and resolution are an indication of the fact that this struggle will be carried to a conclusion that will be decisive and final.

Your utmost energy, aggression, and effort, backed by high and unselfish purpose, will be required to bring this struggle to a triumphant conclusion. There is no possible compromise. We must utterly defeat the Jap and German war machines. You will notice I omit Italy.

It is on the young and vigorous that we must depend for the energy and daring and leadership in staging a great offensive.

I express my complete confidence that you will carry, with a proud and great resolution, into this new Army of citizen-soldiers at their American best, all the traditions, all the history and background of your predecessors at West Point—and may the good Lord be with you. 3

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Speeches, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed draft.

1. On Marshall’s arrangement for flight training for U.S.M.A. cadets, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-109 [2: 144-5], and Marshall to Snyder, March 25, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-145 [3: 148-49].

2. At this point the new officers responded with a rousing ovation. (New York Times, May 30, 1942, p. 1.)

3. During the presentation of diplomas and commissions, Marshall singled out the son of Major General Alexander M. Patch, announcing to the audience that “his father is in New Caledonia,” and the son of Brigadier General Edgar B. Colladay, announcing that “his father is in the Aleutian Islands.” The chief of staff also emphasized hemispheric unity as he congratulated new graduate Olmedo Alfaro, son of Ecuador’s ambassador to the United States, Col


Remarks by the President at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. And thank you, General Caslen, for that introduction. To General Trainor, General Clarke, the 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&rsquod like to acknowledge the Army&rsquos 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. 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 and applause.) Let me just say that nobody ever did that for me when I was in school. (Laughter.)

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&rsquove made. &ldquoDeep inside,&rdquo he wrote, &ldquowe want to explode with pride at what they are committing to do in the service of our country.&rdquo 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.)

This is a particularly useful time for America to reflect on those who have 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. (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 Qaeda&rsquos 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 Qaeda&rsquos leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated, and Osama bin Laden is no more. (Applause.) And through it all, we&rsquove refocused our investments in what has always been a key source of American strength: a growing economy that can provide opportunity for everybody who&rsquos 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 passed 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&rsquos aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China&rsquos 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 and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago.

It will be your generation&rsquos 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&rsquot 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 wellbeing. 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&rsquos willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and America&rsquos 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&rsquot have a choice to ignore what happens beyond our borders. If nuclear materials are not secure, that poses a danger to American cities. 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&rsquot ignore what happens beyond our boundaries.

And beyond these narrow rationales, I believe we have a real stake, an abiding self-interest, in making sure our children and our grandchildren grow up in a world where schoolgirls are not kidnapped and where individuals are not 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 to 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: &ldquoWar is mankind&rsquos most tragic and stupid folly to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.&rdquo

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 servicemembers 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&rsquos 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 ever sent you into harm&rsquos 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&rsquos my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don&rsquot, 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 naïve 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&rsquos principal threat no longer comes from a centralized al Qaeda leadership. Instead, it comes from decentralized al Qaeda affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in 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 Qaeda 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&rsquos 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&rsquos combat mission will be over. (Applause.)

Now, that was an enormous achievement made because of America&rsquos armed forces. But as we move to a train-and-advise mission in Afghanistan, our reduced presence allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa. So, earlier this year, I asked my national security team to develop a plan for a network of partnerships from South Asia to the Sahel. Today, as part of this effort, I am calling on Congress to support a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines. And these resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al Qaeda supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya and facilitating French operations in Mali.

A critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in Syria. As frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers, no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering anytime soon. As President, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn&rsquot help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people. And in helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos.

So with the additional resources I&rsquom announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support Syria&rsquos neighbors -- Jordan and Lebanon Turkey and Iraq -- as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria&rsquos borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis, and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share to support the Syrian people.

Let me make one final point about our efforts against terrorism. The partnerships I&rsquove described do not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. When we have actionable intelligence, that&rsquos what we do -- through capture operations like the one that brought a terrorist involved in the plot to bomb our embassies in 1998 to face justice or drone strikes like those we&rsquove carried out in Yemen and Somalia. There are times when those actions are necessary, and we cannot hesitate to protect our people.

But as I said last year, in taking direct action we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is no certainty -- there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. For our actions should meet a simple test: We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.

I also believe we must be more transparent about both the basis of our counterterrorism actions and the manner in which they are carried out. We have to be able to explain them publicly, whether it is drone strikes or training partners. I will increasingly turn to our military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts. Our intelligence community has done outstanding work, and we have to continue to protect sources and methods. But when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion, we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people, and we reduce accountability in our own government.

And this issue of transparency is directly relevant to a third aspect of American leadership, and that is our effort to strengthen and enforce international order.

After World War II, America had the wisdom to shape institutions to keep the peace and support human progress -- from NATO and the United Nations, to the World Bank and IMF. These institutions are not perfect, but they have been a force multiplier. They reduce the need for unilateral American action and increase restraint among other nations.

Now, just as the world has changed, this architecture must change as well. At the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy spoke about the need for a peace based upon, &ldquoa gradual evolution in human institutions.&rdquo And evolving these international institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of American leadership.

Now, there are a lot of folks, a lot of skeptics, who often downplay the effectiveness of multilateral action. For them, working through international institutions like the U.N. or respecting international law is a sign of weakness. I think they&rsquore wrong. Let me offer just two examples why.

In Ukraine, Russia&rsquos recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn&rsquot the Cold War. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies the IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine&rsquos economy OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine. And this mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda and Russian troops on the border and armed militias in ski masks.

This weekend, Ukrainians voted by the millions. Yesterday, I spoke to their next President. We don&rsquot know how the situation will play out and there will remain grave challenges ahead, but standing with our allies on behalf of international order working with international institutions, has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future without us firing a shot.

Similarly, despite frequent warnings from the United States and Israel and others, the Iranian nuclear program steadily advanced for years. But at the beginning of my presidency, we built a coalition that imposed sanctions on the Iranian economy, while extending the hand of diplomacy to the Iranian government. And now we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully.

The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement -- one that is more effective and durable than what we could have achieved through the use of force. And throughout these negotiations, it has been our willingness to work through multilateral channels that kept the world on our side.

The point is this is American leadership. This is American strength. In each case, we built coalitions to respond to a specific challenge. Now we need to do more to strengthen the institutions that can anticipate and prevent problems from spreading. For example, NATO is the strongest alliance the world has ever known. But we&rsquore now working with NATO allies to meet new missions, both within Europe where our Eastern allies must be reassured, but also beyond Europe&rsquos borders where our NATO allies must pull their weight to counterterrorism and respond to failed states and train a network of partners.

Likewise, the U.N. provides a platform to keep the peace in states torn apart by conflict. Now we need to make sure that those nations who provide peacekeepers have the training and equipment to actually keep the peace, so that we can prevent the type of killing we&rsquove seen in Congo and Sudan. We are going to deepen our investment in countries that support these peacekeeping missions, because having other nations maintain order in their own neighborhoods lessens the need for us to put our own troops in harm&rsquos way. It&rsquos a smart investment. It&rsquos the right way to lead. (Applause.)

Keep in mind, not all international norms relate directly to armed conflict. We have a serious problem with cyber-attacks, which is why we&rsquore working to shape and enforce rules of the road to secure our networks and our citizens. In the Asia Pacific, we&rsquore supporting Southeast Asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with China on maritime disputes in the South China Sea. And we&rsquore working to resolve these disputes through international law. That spirit of cooperation needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change -- a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters and conflicts over water and food, which is why next year I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.

You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We can&rsquot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else. We can&rsquot call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it&rsquos taking place. We can&rsquot try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by our United States Senate, despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security. That&rsquos not leadership that&rsquos retreat. That&rsquos not strength that&rsquos weakness. It would be utterly foreign to leaders like Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions. (Applause.) And that&rsquos why I will continue to push to close Gitmo -- because American values and legal traditions do not permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders. (Applause.) That&rsquos why we&rsquore putting in place new restrictions on how America collects and uses intelligence -- because we will have fewer partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we&rsquore conducting surveillance against ordinary citizens. (Applause.) America does not simply stand for stability or the absence of conflict, no matter what the cost. We stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere.

Which brings me to the fourth and final element of American leadership: Our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity. America&rsquos support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism -- it is a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends and are far less likely to go to war. Economies based on free and open markets perform better and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.

A new century has brought no end to tyranny. In capitals around the globe -- including, unfortunately, some of America&rsquos partners -- there has been a crackdown on civil society. The cancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies, and enraged citizens from remote villages to iconic squares. And watching these trends, or the violent upheavals in parts of the Arab World, it&rsquos easy to be cynical.

But remember that because of America&rsquos efforts, because of American diplomacy and foreign assistance as well as the sacrifices of our military, more people live under elected governments today than at any time in human history. Technology is empowering civil society in ways that no iron fist can control. New breakthroughs are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And even the upheaval of the Arab World reflects the rejection of an authoritarian order that was anything but stable, and now offers the long-term prospect of more responsive and effective governance.

In countries like Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests -- from peace treaties with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government, but we can and will persistently press for reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.

And meanwhile, look at a country like Burma, which only a few years ago was an intractable dictatorship and hostile to the United States -- 40 million people. Thanks to the enormous courage of the people in that country, and because we took the diplomatic initiative, American leadership, we have seen political reforms opening a once closed society a movement by Burmese leadership away from partnership with North Korea in favor of engagement with America and our allies. We&rsquore now supporting reform and badly needed national reconciliation through assistance and investment, through coaxing and, at times, public criticism. And progress there could be reversed, but if Burma succeeds we will have gained a new partner without having fired a shot. American leadership.

In each of these cases, we should not expect change to happen overnight. That&rsquos why we form alliances not just with governments, but also with ordinary people. For unlike other nations, America is not afraid of individual empowerment, we are strengthened by it. We&rsquore strengthened by civil society. We&rsquore strengthened by a free press. We&rsquore strengthened by striving entrepreneurs and small businesses. We&rsquore strengthened by educational exchange and opportunity for all people, and women and girls. That&rsquos who we are. That&rsquos what we represent. (Applause.)

I saw that through a trip to Africa last year, where American assistance has made possible the prospect of an AIDS-free generation, while helping Africans care themselves for their sick. We&rsquore helping farmers get their products to market, to feed populations once endangered by famine. We aim to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa so people are connected to the promise of the global economy. And all this creates new partners and shrinks the space for terrorism and conflict.

Now, tragically, no American security operation can eradicate the threat posed by an extremist group like Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped those girls. And that&rsquos why we have to focus not just on rescuing those girls right away, but also on supporting Nigerian efforts to educate its youth. This should be one of the hard-earned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where our military became the strongest advocate for diplomacy and development. They understood that foreign assistance is not an afterthought, something nice to do apart from our national defense, apart from our national security. It is part of what makes us strong.

Ultimately, global leadership requires us to see the world as it is, with all its danger and uncertainty. We have to be prepared for the worst, prepared for every contingency. But American leadership also requires us to see the world as it should be -- a place where the aspirations of individual human beings really matters where hopes and not just fears govern where the truths written into our founding documents can steer the currents of history in a direction of justice. And we cannot do that without you.

Class of 2014, you have taken this time to prepare on the quiet banks of the Hudson. You leave this place to carry forward a legacy that no other military in human history can claim. You do so as part of a team that extends beyond your units or even our Armed Forces, for in the course of your service you will work as a team with diplomats and development experts. You&rsquoll get to know allies and train partners. And you will embody what it means for America to lead the world.

Next week, I will go to Normandy to honor the men who stormed the beaches there. And while it&rsquos hard for many Americans to comprehend the courage and sense of duty that guided those who boarded small ships, it&rsquos familiar to you. At West Point, you define what it means to be a patriot.

Three years ago, Gavin White graduated from this academy. He then served in Afghanistan. Like the soldiers who came before him, Gavin was in a foreign land, helping people he&rsquod never met, putting himself in harm&rsquos way for the sake of his community and his family, of the folks back home. Gavin lost one of his legs in an attack. I met him last year at Walter Reed. He was wounded, but just as determined as the day that he arrived here at West Point -- and he developed a simple goal. Today, his sister Morgan will graduate. And true to his promise, Gavin will be there to stand and exchange salutes with her. (Applause.)

We have been through a long season of war. We have faced trials that were not foreseen, and we&rsquove seen divisions about how to move forward. But there is something in Gavin&rsquos character, there is something in the American character that will always triumph. Leaving here, you carry with you the respect of your fellow citizens. You will represent a nation with history and hope on our side. Your charge, now, is not only to protect our country, but to do what is right and just. As your Commander-in-Chief, I know you will.

May God bless you. May God bless our men and women in uniform. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)


West Point Commencement Address

President Trump delivered the commencement address to the military academy&rsquos 2020 graduating class at West Point. After congratulating the cadets for their achievements, the president took the opportunity to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent protests around the country. He thanked the military who helped &ldquobattle the invisible enemy, the new virus, that came to our shores from a distant land called China,&rdquo and then praised the National Guard for &ldquoensuring peace, safety and the constitutional rule of law on our streets.&rdquo close


West Point Commencement Speech

I heard President Trump mention that the US military has developed a HYPERSONIC missle that is 17x faster than any other missile, and can strike a target with an accuracy of 14 inches from 1000 miles away.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe lockheed just developed and released a weapons platform that goes supersonic, has a high degree of accuracy like this, and a range of 500-1000 miles away.

Does anybody know what he may be referring to? Possible orbital warheads? He did follow up that statement with the affirmation of the space force.

Looking for answers and ideas! Thank you!

It's Trump, and I hope regardless of political orientation we can all agree he's something of an unreliable narrator. Iɽ take every number there with a huge grain of salt.

Hypersonic refers to atmospheric travel above Mach 5. Even though ICBMs go upwards of Mach 20, because they are in space they don't really get the title of hypersonic except during reentry. Given that ICBMs have been around since the 60s it would be absurd to discuss them as if they were some big advancement, so I feel fairly confident that the actual thing he based his hyperbole on is not in fact an ICBM or orbital weapon.

Hypersonic cruise missiles are on the forefront of new tech, and is almost certainly what he was talking about. A hypersonic cruise missile would certainly be many times faster than existing cruise missiles (but not 17×).


Transcript of President Obama’s Commencement Address at West Point

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 Qaeda’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 Qaeda’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.

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 naïve 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 Qaeda leadership. Instead it comes from decentralized Al Qaeda 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 Qaeda 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.

Now — (applause) — that was an enormous achievement made because of America’s armed forces. But as we move to a train-and-advise mission in Afghanistan, our reduced presence there allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa. So earlier this year I asked my national security team to develop a plan for a network of partnerships from South Asia to the Sahel.

Today, as part of this effort, I am calling on Congress to support a new counterterrorism partnerships fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity and facilitate partner countries on the front lines. And these resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who’ve gone on the offensive against Al Qaeda, supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia, working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya and facilitating French operations in Mali.

A critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in Syria. As frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers there, no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering anytime soon. As president, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian civil war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people. And in helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos.

So with the additional resources I’m announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support Syria’s neighbors — Jordan and Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq — as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share of support to the Syrian people.

Let me make one final point about our efforts against terrorism. The partnerships I’ve described do not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. When we have actionable intelligence, that’s what we do, through capture operations, like the one that brought a terrorist involved in the plot to bomb our embassies in 1998 to face justice, or drone strikes, like those we’ve carried out in Yemen and Somalia.

There are times when those actions are necessary and we cannot hesitate to protect our people. But as I said last year, in taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is no certainty -- there is near certainty of no civilian casualties, for our actions should meet a simple test: We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.

I also believe we must be more transparent about both the basis of our counterterrorism actions and the manner in which they are carried out. We have to be able to explain them publicly, whether it is drone strikes or training partners. I will increasingly turn to our military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts. Our intelligence community has done outstanding work and we have to continue to protect sources and methods, but when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion, we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people, and we reduce accountability in our own government.

And this issue of transparency is directly relevant to a third aspect of American leadership, and that is our effort to strengthen and enforce international order.

After World War II, America had the wisdom to shape institutions to keep the peace and support human progress, from NATO and the United Nations, to the World Bank and I.M.F. These institutions are not perfect, but they have been a force multiplier. They reducing the need for unilateral American action and increase restraint among other nations.

Now, just as the world has changed, this architecture must change as well. At the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy spoke about the need for a peace based upon a gradual evolution in human institutions. And evolving these international institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of American leadership.

Now, there are lot of folks, a lot of skeptics who often downplay the effectiveness of multilateral action. For them, working through international institutions, like the U.N. or respecting international law, is a sign of weakness. I think they’re wrong. Let me offer just two examples why.

In Ukraine, Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn’t the Cold War. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions, Europe and the G-7 joined with us to impose sanctions, NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies, the I.M.F. is helping to stabilize Ukraine’s economy, O.S.C.E. monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine.

And this mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda and Russian troops on the border and armed militias in ski masks.

This weekend, Ukrainians voted by the millions. Yesterday, I spoke to their next president. We don’t know how the situation will play out, and there will remain grave challenges ahead, but standing with our allies on behalf of international order, working with international institutions, has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future — without us firing a shot.

Similarly, despite frequent warnings from the United States and Israel and others, the Iranian nuclear program steadily advanced for years. But at the beginning of my presidency, we built a coalition that imposed sanctions on the Iranian economy, while extending the hand of diplomacy to the Iranian government. And now we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement, one that is more effective and durable than what we could have achieved through the use of force. And throughout these negotiations, it has been our willingness to work through multilateral channels that kept the world on our side.

The point is, this is American leadership. This is American strength.

In each case, we built coalitions to respond to a specific challenge. Now we need to do more to strengthen the institutions that can anticipate and prevent problems from spreading.

For example, NATO is the strongest alliance the world has ever known but we’re now working with NATO allies to meet new missions both within Europe, where our eastern allies must be reassured, but also beyond Europe’s borders, where our NATO allies must pull their weight to counterterrorism and respond to failed states and train a network of partners.

Likewise, the U.N. provides a platform to keep the peace in states torn apart by conflict. Now, we need to make sure that those nations who provide peacekeepers have the training and equipment to actually keep the peace so that we can prevent the type of killing we’ve seen in Congo and Sudan. We are going to deepen our investment in countries that support these peacekeeping missions because having other nations maintain order in their own neighborhoods lessens the need for us to put our own troops in harm’s way. It’s a smart investment. It’s the right way to lead. (Applause.)

Keep in mind, not all international norms relate directly to armed conflict. We have a serious problem with cyberattacks, which is why we’re working to shape and enforce rules of the road to secure our networks and our citizens. In the Asia Pacific, we’re supporting Southeast Asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with China on maritime disputes in the South China Sea, and we’re working to resolve these disputes through international law.

That spirit of cooperation needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change, a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters, and conflicts over water and food, which is why, next year, I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.

You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else. We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it is taking place. We can’t try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by the United States Senate, despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security. That’s not leadership. That’s retreat. That’s not strength that’s weakness. It would be utterly foreign to leaders like Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions. (Applause.)

And that’s why I will continue to push to close Gitmo, because American values and legal traditions do not permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders. (Applause.) That’s why we’re putting in place new restrictions on how America collects and uses intelligence, because we will have fewer partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we’re conducting surveillance against ordinary citizens. (Applause.) America does not simply stand for stability or the absence of conflict, no matter what the cost we stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere -- which brings me to the fourth and final element of American leadership: our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity.

America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism it is a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends and are far less likely to go to war. Economies based on free and open markets perform better and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.

A new century has brought no end to tyranny. In capitals around the globe — including, unfortunately, some of America’s partners — there has been a crackdown on civil society. The cancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies and enraged citizens from remote villages to iconic squares.

And watching these trends, or the violent upheavals in parts of the Arab world, it’s easy to be cynical. But remember that because of America’s efforts, because of American diplomacy and foreign assistance, as well as the sacrifices of our military, more people live under elected governments today than at any time in human history. Technology is empowering civil society in ways that no iron fist can control. New breakthroughs are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And even the upheaval of the Arab world reflects the rejection of an authoritarian order that was anything but stable, and now offers the long-term prospect of more responsive and effective governance.

In countries like Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests, from peace treaties to Israel to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government, but we can and will persistently press for reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.

And meanwhile, look at a country like Burma, which only a few years ago was an intractable dictatorship and hostile to the United States. Forty million people. Thanks to the enormous courage of the people in that country, and because we took the diplomatic initiative, American leadership, we have seen political reforms opening a once- closed society a movement by Burmese leadership away from partnership with North Korea in favor of engagement with America and our allies.

We’re now supporting reform and badly needed national reconciliation through assistance and investment, through coaxing and, at times, public criticism. And progress there could be reversed, but if Burma succeeds we will have gained a new partner without having fired a shot — American leadership.

In each of these cases, we should not expect change to happen overnight. That’s why we form alliances, not only with governments, but also with ordinary people. For unlike other nations, America is not afraid of individual empowerment. We are strengthened by it. We’re strengthened by civil society. We’re strengthened by a free press. We’re strengthened by striving entrepreneurs and small businesses. We’re strengthened by educational exchange and opportunity for all people and women and girls. That’s who we are. That’s what we represent. (Applause.)

I saw that through a trip to Africa last year, where American assistance has made possible the prospect of an AIDS-free generation, while helping Africans care themselves for their sick. We’re helping farmers get their products to market to feed populations once endangered by famine. We aim to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa so people are connected to the promise of the global economy. And all this creates new partners and shrinks the space for terrorism and conflict.

Now, tragically, no American security operation can eradicate the threat posed by an extremist group like Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped those girls.

And that’s we have to focus not just on rescuing those girls right away, but also on supporting Nigerian efforts to educate its youth. This should be one of the hard-earned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where our military became the strongest advocate for diplomacy and development. They understood that foreign assistance is not an afterthought, something nice to do apart from our national defense, apart from our national security. It is part of what makes us strong.

Now, ultimately, global leadership requires us to see the world as it is, with all its danger and uncertainty. We have to be prepared for the worst, prepared for every contingency, but American leadership also requires us to see the world as it should be — a place where the aspirations of individual human beings really matters, where hopes and not just fears govern where the truths written into our founding documents can steer the currents of history in the direction of justice. And we cannot do that without you.

Class of 2014, you have taken this time to prepare on the quiet banks of the Hudson. You leave this place to carry forward a legacy that no other military in human history can claim. You do so as part of a team that extends beyond your units or even our Armed Forces, for in the course of your service, you will work as a team with diplomats and development experts.

You’ll get to know allies and train partners. And you will embody what it means for America to lead the world.

Next week I will go to Normandy to honor the men who stormed the beaches there. And while it’s hard for many Americans to comprehend the courage and sense of duty that guided those who boarded small ships, it’s familiar to you. At West Point, you define what it means to be a patriot.

Three years ago Gavin White graduated from this academy. He then served in Afghanistan. Like the soldiers who came before him, Gavin was in a foreign land, helping people he’d never met, putting himself in harm’s way for the sake of his community and his family and the folks back home. Gavin lost one of his legs in an attack. I met him last year at Walter Reed. He was wounded but just as determined as the day that he arrived here at West Point. And he developed a simple goal. Today his sister Morgan will graduate. And true to his promise, Gavin will be there to stand and exchange salutes with her. (Cheers, applause.)

We have been through a long season of war. We have faced trials that were not foreseen and we’ve seen divisions about how to move forward. But there is something in Gavin’s character, there is something in the American character, that will always triumph.

Leaving here, you carry with you the respect of your fellow citizens. You will represent a nation with history and hope on our side. Your charge now is not only to protect our country, but to do what is right and just. As your commander in chief, I know you will. May God bless you. May God bless our men and women in uniform. And may God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)


Read President Obama's Commencement Address at West Point in 2010

H ere are the full remarks from Obama&rsquos speech on West Point&rsquos campus in West Point, New York in 2010.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Please be seated. Thank you very much. Good morning.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

THE PRESIDENT: It is wonderful to be back at the United States Military Academy — the oldest continuously occupied military post in America — as we commission the newest officers in the United States Army.

Thank you, General Hagenbeck, for your introduction, on a day that holds special meaning for you and the Dean, General Finnegan. Both of you first came to West Point in the Class of 1971 and went on to inspire soldiers under your command. You&rsquove led this Academy to a well-deserved recognition: best college in America. (Applause.) And today, you&rsquore both looking forward to a well-deserved retirement from the Army. General Hagenbeck and Judy, General Finnegan and Joan, we thank you for 39 years of remarkable service to the Army and to America. (Applause.)

To the Commandant, General Rapp, the Academy staff and faculty, most of whom are veterans, thank you for your service and for inspiring these cadets to become the &ldquoleaders of character&rdquo they are today. (Applause.) Let me also acknowledge the presence of General Shinseki, Secretary McHugh, the members of Congress who are with us here today, including two former soldiers this Academy knows well, Senator Jack Reed and Congressman Patrick Murphy. (Applause.)

To all the families here — especially all the moms and dads — this day is a tribute to you as well. The decision to come to West Point was made by your sons and daughters, but it was you who instilled in them a spirit of service that has led them to this hallowed place in a time of war. So on behalf of the American people, thank you for your example and thank you for your patriotism. (Applause.)

To the United States Corps of Cadets, and most of all, the Class of 2010 — it is a singular honor to serve as your Commander-in-Chief. As your Superintendent indicated, under our constitutional system my power as President is wisely limited. But there are some areas where my power is absolute. And so, as your Commander-in-Chief, I hereby absolve all cadets who are on restriction for minor conduct offenses. (Applause.) I will leave the definition of &ldquominor&rdquo — (laughter) — to those who know better. (Laughter.)

Class of 2010, today is your day — a day to celebrate all that you&rsquove achieved, in the finest tradition of the soldier-scholar, and to look forward to the important service that lies ahead.

You have pushed yourself through the agony of Beast Barracks, the weeks of training in rain and mud, and, I&rsquom told, more inspections and drills than perhaps any class before you. Along the way, I&rsquom sure you faced a few moments when you asked yourself: &ldquoWhat am I doing here?&rdquo I have those moments sometimes. (Laughter.)

You&rsquove trained for the complexities of today&rsquos missions, knowing that success will be measured not merely by performance on the battlefield, but also by your understanding of the cultures and traditions and languages in the place where you serve.

You&rsquove reached out across borders, with more international experience than any class in Academy history. You&rsquove not only attended foreign academies to forge new friendships, you&rsquove welcomed into your ranks cadets from nearly a dozen countries.

You&rsquove challenged yourself intellectually in the sciences and the humanities, in history and technology. You&rsquove achieved a standard of academic excellence that is without question, tying the record for the most post-graduate scholarships of any class in West Point history. (Applause.)

This includes your number one overall cadet and your valedictorian — Liz Betterbed and Alex Rosenberg. And by the way, this is the first time in Academy history where your two top awards have been earned by female candidates. (Applause.)

This underscores a fact that I&rsquove seen in the faces of our troops from Baghdad to Bagram — in the 21st century, our women in uniform play an indispensable role in our national defense. And time and again, they have proven themselves to be role models for our daughters and our sons — as students and as soldiers and as leaders in the United States armed forces.

And the faces in this stadium show a simple truth: America&rsquos Army represents the full breadth of America&rsquos experience. You come from every corner of our country — from privilege and from poverty, from cities and small towns. You worship all of the great religions that enrich the life of our people. You include the vast diversity of race and ethnicity that is fundamental to our nation&rsquos strength.

There is, however, one thing that sets you apart. Here in these quiet hills, you&rsquove come together to prepare for the most difficult test of our time. You signed up knowing your service would send you into harm&rsquos way, and you did so long after the first drums of war were sounded. In you we see the commitment of our country, and timeless virtues that have served our nation well.

We see your sense of duty — including those who have earned their right shoulder patch — their right shoulder combat patches, like the soldier who suffered a grenade wound in Iraq, yet still helped his fellow soldiers to evacuate — your First Captain of the Corps of Cadets, Tyler Gordy. (Applause.)

We see your sense of honor — in your respect for tradition, knowing that you join a Long Grey Line that stretches through the centuries and in your reverence for each other, as when the Corps stands in silence every time a former cadet makes the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Indeed, today we honor the 78 graduates of this Academy who have given their lives for our freedom and our security in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And we see your love of country — a devotion to America captured in the motto you chose as a class, a motto which will guide your lives of service: &ldquoLoyal &lsquoTil the End.&rdquo

Duty. Honor. Love of country. Everything you have learned here, all that you&rsquove achieved here, has prepared you for today — when you raise your right hand when you take that oath when your loved one or mentor pins those gold bars on your shoulders when you become, at long last, commissioned officers in the United States Army.

This is the ninth consecutive commencement that has taken place at West Point with our nation at war. This time of war began in Afghanistan — a place that may seem as far away from this peaceful bend in the Hudson River as anywhere on Earth. The war began only because our own cities and civilians were attacked by violent extremists who plotted from a distant place, and it continues only because that plotting persists to this day.

For many years, our focus was on Iraq. And year after year, our troops faced a set of challenges there that were as daunting as they were complex. A lesser Army might have seen its spirit broken. But the American military is more resilient than that. Our troops adapted, they persisted, they partnered with coalition and Iraqi counterparts, and through their competence and creativity and courage, we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer. (Applause.)

Even as we transition to an Iraqi lead and bring our troops home, our commitment to the Iraqi people endures. We will continue to advise and assist Iraqi security forces, who are already responsible for security in most of the country. And a strong American civilian presence will help Iraqis forge political and economic progress. This will not be a simple task, but this is what success looks like: an Iraq that provides no haven to terrorists a democratic Iraq that is sovereign and stable and self-reliant.

And as we end the war in Iraq, though, we are pressing forward in Afghanistan. Six months ago, I came to West Point to announce a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I stand here humbled by the knowledge that many of you will soon be serving in harm&rsquos way. I assure you, you will go with the full support of a proud and grateful nation.

We face a tough fight in Afghanistan. Any insurgency that is confronted with a direct challenge will turn to new tactics. And from Marja to Kandahar, that is what the Taliban has done through assassination and indiscriminate killing and intimidation. Moreover, any country that has known decades of war will be tested in finding political solutions to its problems, and providing governance that can sustain progress and serve the needs of its people.

So this war has changed over the last nine years, but it&rsquos no less important than it was in those days after 9/11. We toppled the Taliban regime — now we must break the momentum of a Taliban insurgency and train Afghan security forces. We have supported the election of a sovereign government — now we must strengthen its capacities. We&rsquove brought hope to the Afghan people — now we must see that their country does not fall prey to our common enemies. Cadets, there will be difficult days ahead. We will adapt, we will persist, and I have no doubt that together with our Afghan and international partners, we will succeed in Afghanistan. (Applause.)

Now even as we fight the wars in front of us, we also have to see the horizon beyond these wars — because unlike a terrorist whose goal is to destroy, our future will be defined by what we build. We have to see that horizon, and to get there we must pursue a strategy of national renewal and global leadership. We have to build the sources of America&rsquos strength and influence, and shape a world that&rsquos more peaceful and more prosperous.

Time and again, Americans have risen to meet and to shape moments of change. This is one of those moments — an era of economic transformation and individual empowerment of ancient hatreds and new dangers of emerging powers and new global challenges. And we&rsquore going to need all of you to help meet these challenges. You&rsquove answered the call. You, and all who wear America&rsquos uniform, remain the cornerstone of our national defense, the anchor of global security. And through a period when too many of our institutions have acted irresponsibly, the American military has set a standard of service and sacrifice that is as great as any in this nation&rsquos history. (Applause.)

Now the rest of us — the rest of us must do our part. And to do so, we must first recognize that our strength and influence abroad begins with steps we take at home. We must educate our children to compete in an age where knowledge is capital, and the marketplace is global. We must develop clean energy that can power new industry and unbound us from foreign oil and preserve our planet. We have to pursue science and research that unlocks wonders as unforeseen to us today as the microchip and the surface of the moon were a century ago.

Simply put, American innovation must be the foundation of American power — because at no time in human history has a nation of diminished economic vitality maintained its military and political primacy. And so that means that the civilians among us, as parents and community leaders, elected officials, business leaders, we have a role to play. We cannot leave it to those in uniform to defend this country — we have to make sure that America is building on its strengths. (Applause.)

As we build these economic sources of our strength, the second thing we must do is build and integrate the capabilities that can advance our interests, and the common interests of human beings around the world. America&rsquos armed forces are adapting to changing times, but your efforts have to be complemented. We will need the renewed engagement of our diplomats, from grand capitals to dangerous outposts. We need development experts who can support Afghan agriculture and help Africans build the capacity to feed themselves. We need intelligence agencies that work seamlessly with their counterparts to unravel plots that run from the mountains of Pakistan to the streets of our cities. We need law enforcement that can strengthen judicial systems abroad, and protect us here at home. And we need first responders who can act swiftly in the event of earthquakes and storms and disease.

The burdens of this century cannot fall on our soldiers alone. It also cannot fall on American shoulders alone. Our adversaries would like to see America sap its strength by overextending our power. And in the past, we&rsquove always had the foresight to avoid acting alone. We were part of the most powerful wartime coalition in human history through World War II. We stitched together a community of free nations and institutions to endure and ultimately prevail during a Cold War.

Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system. But America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation — we have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice, so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities and face consequences when they don&rsquot.

So we have to shape an international order that can meet the challenges of our generation. We will be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well, including those who will serve by your side in Afghanistan and around the globe. As influence extends to more countries and capitals, we also have to build new partnerships, and shape stronger international standards and institutions.

This engagement is not an end in itself. The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times &ndash- countering violent extremism and insurgency stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick preventing conflict and healing wounds. If we are successful in these tasks, that will lessen conflicts around the world. It will be supportive of our efforts by our military to secure our country.

More than anything else, though, our success will be claimed by who we are as a country. This is more important than ever, given the nature of the challenges that we face. Our campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and to defeat al Qaeda is part of an international effort that is necessary and just.

But this is a different kind of war. There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey&rsquos end — no armistice, no banner headline. Though we have had more success in eliminating al Qaeda leaders in recent months than in recent years, they will continue to recruit, and plot, and exploit our open society. We see that in bombs that go off in Kabul and Karachi. We see it in attempts to blow up an airliner over Detroit or an SUV in Times Square, even as these failed attacks show that pressure on networks like al Qaeda is forcing them to rely on terrorists with less time and space to train. We see the potential duration of this struggle in al Qaeda&rsquos gross distortions of Islam, their disrespect for human life, and their attempt to prey upon fear and hatred and prejudice.

So the threat will not go away soon, but let&rsquos be clear: Al Qaeda and its affiliates are small men on the wrong side of history. They lead no nation. They lead no religion. We need not give in to fear every time a terrorist tries to scare us. We should not discard our freedoms because extremists try to exploit them. We cannot succumb to division because others try to drive us apart. We are the United States of America. (Applause.) We are the United States of America, and we have repaired our union, and faced down fascism, and outlasted communism. We&rsquove gone through turmoil, we&rsquove gone through Civil War, and we have come out stronger — and we will do so once more. (Applause.)

And I know this to be true because I see the strength and resilience of the American people. Terrorists want to scare us. New Yorkers just go about their lives unafraid. (Applause.) Extremists want a war between America and Islam, but Muslims are part of our national life, including those who serve in our United States Army. (Applause.) Adversaries want to divide us, but we are united by our support for you — soldiers who send a clear message that this country is both the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Applause.)

You know, in an age of instant access to information, a lot of cynicism in the news, it&rsquos easy to lose perspective in a flood of pictures and the swirl of political debate. Power and influence can seem to ebb and flow. Wars and grand plans can be deemed won or lost day to day, even hour to hour. As we experience the immediacy of the image of a suffering child or the boasts of a prideful dictator, it&rsquos easy to give in to the belief sometimes that human progress has stalled — that events are beyond our control, that change is not possible.

But this nation was founded upon a different notion. We believe, &ldquothat all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.&rdquo (Applause.) And that truth has bound us together, a nation populated by people from around the globe, enduring hardship and achieving greatness as one people. And that belief is as true today as it was 200 years ago. It is a belief that has been claimed by people of every race and religion in every region of the world. Can anybody doubt that this belief will be any less true — any less powerful — two years, two decades, or even two centuries from now?

And so a fundamental part of our strategy for our security has to be America&rsquos support for those universal rights that formed the creed of our founding. And we will promote these values above all by living them — through our fidelity to the rule of law and our Constitution, even when it&rsquos hard even when we&rsquore being attacked even when we&rsquore in the midst of war.

And we will commit ourselves to forever pursuing a more perfect union. Together with our friends and allies, America will always seek a world that extends these rights so that when an individual is being silenced, we aim to be her voice. Where ideas are suppressed, we provide space for open debate. Where democratic institutions take hold, we add a wind at their back. When humanitarian disaster strikes, we extend a hand. Where human dignity is denied, America opposes poverty and is a source of opportunity. That is who we are. That is what we do.

We do so with no illusions. We understand change doesn&rsquot come quick. We understand that neither America nor any nation can dictate every outcome beyond its borders. We know that a world of mortal men and women will never be rid of oppression or evil. What we can do, what we must do, is work and reach and fight for the world that we seek — all of us, those in uniform and those who are not.

And in preparing for today, I turned to the world — to the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes. And reflecting on his Civil War experience, he said, and I quote, &ldquoTo fight out a war you must believe in something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching.&rdquo Holmes went on, &ldquoMore than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out.&rdquo

America does not fight for the sake of fighting. We abhor war. As one who has never experienced the field of battle — and I say that with humility, knowing, as General MacArthur said, &ldquothe soldier above all others prays for peace&rdquo — we fight because we must. We fight to keep our families and communities safe. We fight for the security of our allies and partners, because America believes that we will be safer when our friends are safer that we will be stronger when the world is more just.

So cadets, a long and hard road awaits you. You go abroad because your service is fundamental to our security back home. You go abroad as representatives of the values that this country was founded upon. And when you inevitably face setbacks — when the fighting is fierce or a village elder is fearful when the end that you are seeking seems uncertain — think back to West Point.

Here, in this peaceful part of the world, you have drilled and you have studied and come of age in the footsteps of great men and women — Americans who faced times of trial, and who even in victory could not have foreseen the America they helped to build, the world they helped to shape.

George Washington was able to free a band of patriots from the rule of an empire, but he could not have foreseen his country growing to include 50 states connecting two oceans.

Grant was able to save a union and see the slaves freed, but he could not have foreseen just how much his country would extend full rights and opportunities to citizens of every color.

Eisenhower was able to see Germany surrender and a former enemy grow into an ally, but he could not have foreseen the Berlin Wall coming down without a shot being fired.

Today it is your generation that has borne a heavy burden — soldiers, graduates of this Academy like John Meyer and Greg Ambrosia who have braved enemy fire, protected their units, carried out their missions, earned the commendation of this Army, and of a grateful nation.

From the birth of our existence, America has had a faith in the future — a belief that where we&rsquore going is better than where we&rsquove been, even when the path ahead is uncertain. To fulfill that promise, generations of Americans have built upon the foundation of our forefathers — finding opportunity, fighting injustice, forging a more perfect union. Our achievement would not be possible without the Long Grey Line that has sacrificed for duty, for honor, for country. (Applause.)

And years from now when you return here, when for you the shadows have grown longer, I have no doubt that you will have added your name to the book of history. I have no doubt that we will have prevailed in the struggles of our times. I have no doubt that your legacy will be an America that has emerged stronger, and a world that is more just, because we are Americans, and our destiny is never written for us, it is written by us, and we are ready to lead once more.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)


Read The Full Text Of Obama's Remarks From His West Point Speech On Foreign Policy

President Barack Obama delivered a speech at West Point's graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

Obama's remarks come one day after he announced plans to keep nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after this year, but then withdrawing virtually all troops by the end of 2016.

Below, Obama's full remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. Thank you, General Caslen, for that introduction. To General Trainor, General Clarke, and the faculty and staff at West Point – you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution, and excellent mentors for the newest officers in the United States Army. I’d like to acknowledge the Army’s leadership – Secretary McHugh and General Odierno, as well as Senator Jack Reed – 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. 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. 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 many parents when he wrote me a letter about the sacrifices you have 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 like to 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, and their families.

It is a particularly useful time for America to reflect on those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom – for you are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. 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 counter-terrorism efforts were focused on al Qaeda’s core leadership. 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, the landscape has changed. We have removed our troops from Iraq. We are winding down our war in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda’s leadership in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated, and Osama bin Laden is no more. Through it all, we have refocused our investments in a key source of American strength: a growing economy that can provide opportunity 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 unrivalled 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 girls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine – it is America that the world looks to for help. The United States is the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed, and will likely 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 the individual, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm. Russia’s aggression toward 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 our own, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24 hours news and pervasive social media makes it impossible to ignore 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 you will face – is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also to extend peace and prosperity around the globe.

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. Not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges at home, that view is shared by many Americans.

A different view, from interventionists on the left and right, says 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.

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. If nuclear materials are not secure, that could pose a danger in American cities. As the Syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle-hardened groups to come after us increases. Regional aggression that goes unchecked – in southern Ukraine, the South China Sea, or anywhere else in the world – will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military.

Beyond these narrow rationales, I believe we have a real stake – an abiding self-interest – in making sure our children grow up in a world where school-girls are not kidnapped where individuals aren’t slaughtered because of tribe or faith or political beliefs. 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, or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required. Tough talk 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. That includes those of you 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. 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 fixing, 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.

Let me spend the rest of my time, then, describing my vision for how the United States of America, and our military, should lead in the years to come.

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 livelihood is at stake or when the security of our allies is in danger. In these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our action is proportional, effective and just. International opinion matters. But America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland, or our way of life.

On the other hand, when issues of global concern that do not pose a direct threat to the United States are at stake – when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction – 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 must broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development sanctions and isolation appeals to international law and – if just, necessary, and effective – multilateral military action. We must do so because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, and 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 naïve and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counter-terrorism 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.

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

Empowering partners is a large part of what we’ve done in Afghanistan. Together with our allies, America struck huge blows against al Qaeda 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. That’s why we trained hundreds of thousands of Afghan soldiers and police. Earlier this spring, those forces secured an election in which Afghans voted for the first democratic transfer of power in their history. At the end of this year, a new Afghan President will be in office, and America’s combat mission will be over.

Now, as we move to a train and advise mission in Afghanistan, our reduced presence there will allow us to more effectively address emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa. Earlier this year, I asked my national security team to develop a plan for a network of partnerships from South Asia to the Sahel. Today, as part of this effort, I am calling on Congress to support a new Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines. These resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al Qaeda supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya and facilitating French operations in Mali.

A critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in Syria. As frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers – no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering anytime soon. As President, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian civil war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his people. And in helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we also push back against the growing number of extremists who find safe-haven in the chaos.

With the additional resources I’m announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support Syria’s neighbors – Jordan and Lebanon Turkey and Iraq – as they host refugees, and confront terrorists working across Syrian borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World – to push for a political resolution of this crisis, and make sure that those countries, and not just the United States, are contributing their fair share of support to the Syrian people.

Let me make one final point about our efforts against terrorism. The partnership I’ve described does not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. When we have actionable intelligence, that’s what we do – through capture operations, like the one that brought a terrorist involved in the plot to bomb our Embassies in 1998 to face justice or drone strikes, like those we have carried out in Yemen and Somalia. But as I said last year, in taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. For our actions should meet a simple test: we must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.

I also believe we be more transparent about both the basis for our actions, and the manner in which they are carried out – whether it is drone strikes, or training partners. I will increasingly turn to our military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts. Our intelligence community has done outstanding work and we must continue to protect sources and methods. But, when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people and we reduce accountability in our own government.

This issue of transparency is directly relevant to a third aspect of American leadership: our efforts to strengthen and enforce international order.

After World War II, America had the wisdom to shape institutions to keep the peace and support human progress – from NATO and the United Nations, to the World Bank and IMF. Though imperfect, these institutions have been a force multiplier – reducing the need for unilateral American action, and increased restraint among other nations. But just as the world has changed, this architecture must change as well. At the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy spoke about the need for a peace based upon, “a gradual evolution in human institutions.” Evolving these institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of American leadership.

Of course, skeptics often downplay the effectiveness of multilateral action. For them, working through international institutions, or respecting international law, is a sign of weakness. I think they’re wrong. Let me offer just two examples why.

In Ukraine, Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn’t the Cold War. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions. Europe and the G-7 joined with us to impose sanctions. NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies. The IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine’s economy. OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine. This mobilization of world opinion and institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda, Russian troops on the border, and armed militias. This weekend, Ukrainians voted by the millions yesterday, I spoke to their next President. We don’t know how the situation will play out, and there will be grave challenges. But standing with our allies on behalf of international order has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future.

Similarly, despite frequent warnings from the United States, Israel, and others, the Iranian nuclear program steadily advanced for years. But at the beginning of my presidency, we built a coalition that imposed sanctions on the Iranian economy, while extending the hand of diplomacy to the Iranian government. Now, we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement – one that is more effective and durable than what would be achieved through the use of force. And throughout these negotiations, it has been our willingness to work through multilateral channels that kept the world on our side.

This is American leadership. This is American strength. In each case, we built coalitions to respond to a specific challenge. Now we need to do more to strengthen the institutions that can anticipate and prevent them from spreading. For example, NATO is the strongest alliance the world has ever known. But we are now working with NATO allies to meet new missions – within Europe, where our Eastern allies must be reassured and also beyond Europe’s borders, where our NATO allies must pull their weight to counter-terrorism, respond to failed states, and train a network of partners.

Likewise, the UN provides a platform to keep the peace in states torn apart by conflict. Now we need to make sure that those nations who provide peace-keepers have the training and equipment to keep the peace, so that we can prevent the type of killing we have seen in Congo and Sudan. We are deepening our investment in countries that support these missions. Because having other nations maintain order in their own neighborhoods lessens the need for us to put our own troops in harm’s way. It is a smart investment. It’s the right way to lead.

Keep in mind, not all international norms relate directly to armed conflict. In the face of cyber-attacks, we are working to shape and enforce rules of the road to secure our networks and citizens. In the Asia Pacific, we are supporting Southeast Asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with China on the South China Sea, and are working to resolve territorial and maritime disputes through international law. That spirit of cooperation must energize the global effort to combat climate change – a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we’re called on to respond to refugee flows, natural disasters, and conflicts over water and food. That’s why, next year, I intend to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet.

You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else. We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if so many of our political leaders deny that it is taking place. It’s a lot harder to call on China to resolve its maritime disputes under the Law of the Sea Convention when the United States Senate has refused to ratify it – despite the repeated insistence of our top military leaders that the treaty advances our national security. That’s not leadership that’s retreat. That’s not strength that’s weakness. And it would be utterly foreign to leaders like Roosevelt and Truman Eisenhower and Kennedy.

I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions. That’s why I will continue to push to close GTMO – because American values and legal traditions don’t permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders. That’s why we are putting in place new restrictions on how America collects and uses intelligence – because we will have fewer partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we are conducting surveillance against ordinary citizens. America does not simply stand for stability, or the absence of conflict, no matter what the price we stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere.

Which brings me to the fourth and final element of American leadership: our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity. America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism – it’s a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends, and are far less likely to go to war. Free and open economies perform better, and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability, and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.

A new century has brought no end to tyranny. In capitals around the globe – including some of America’s partners – there has been a crackdown on civil society. The cancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies, and enraged citizens from remote villages to iconic squares. Watching these trends, or the violent upheaval in parts of the Arab World, it is easy to be cynical.

But remember that because of America’s efforts – through diplomacy and foreign assistance, as well as the sacrifices of our military – more people live under elected governments today than any time in human history. Technology is empowering civil society in ways that no iron fist can control. New breakthroughs are lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. And even the upheaval of the Arab World reflects the rejection of an authoritarian order that was anything but stable, and offers the long-term prospect of more responsive and effective governance.

In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government. But we can and will persistently press for the reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.

Meanwhile, look at a country like Burma, which only a few years ago was an intractable dictatorship, hostile to the United States. Thanks to the enormous courage of the people in that country – and because we took the diplomatic initiative – we have seen political reforms opening a once closed society a movement away from partnership with North Korea in favor of engagement with America and our allies. We are now supporting reform – and badly needed national reconciliation – through assistance and investment coaxing and, at times, public criticism. Progress could be reversed. But if Burma succeeds, we will have gained a new partner without having fired a shot.

In all these cases, we should not expect change to happen overnight. That’s why we form alliances – not only with governments, but with ordinary people. For unlike other nations, America is not afraid of individual empowerment, we are strengthened by it – by civil society and transparency by striving entrepreneurs and small businesses by educational exchange and opportunity for women and girls. That’s who we are. That’s what we represent.

I saw that throughout my trip to Africa last year. American assistance has made possible the prospect of an AIDS-free generation, while helping Africans care for their sick. We are helping farmers get their products to market, and feeding populations once endangered by famine. We aim to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, so people are connected to the promise of the global economy.

All this creates new partners and shrinks the space for terrorism. Tragically, no American security operation can eradicate the threat posed by an extremist group like Boko Haram. That is why we must focus both on rescuing those girls, but also on supporting Nigerian efforts to educate its youth. Indeed, this should be one of the hard-earned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where our military became the strongest advocate for diplomacy and development. Foreign assistance isn’t an afterthought – something nice to do apart from our national defense. It’s part of what makes us strong.

Ultimately, global leadership requires us to see the world as it is, with all its danger and uncertainty. But American leadership also requires us to see the world as it should be – a place where the aspirations of individual human beings matter where hopes and not just fears govern where the truths written into our founding documents can steer the currents of history in the direction of justice. And we cannot do that without you.

Graduates, you have taken this time to prepare on the quiet banks of the Hudson. You leave this place to carry forward a legacy that no other military in human history can claim. And you do so as part of a team that extends beyond your units or even our Armed Forces. In the course of your service, you will work as a team with diplomats and development experts. You will get to know allies and train partners. You will embody what it means for America to lead.

Next week, I will go to Normandy to honor the men who stormed the beaches. And while it is hard for many Americans to comprehend the courage and sense of duty that guided those who boarded small ships, it is familiar to you. At West Point, you define what it means to be a patriot.

Three years ago, Gavin White graduated from this Academy. He then served in Afghanistan. Like the soldiers who came before him, he was in a foreign land, helping people he’d never met, putting himself in harm’s way for the sake of his people back home. Gavin lost one of his legs in an attack. I met him last year at Walter Reed. He was wounded, but just as determined as the day that he arrived here. He developed a simple goal. Today, his sister Morgan will graduate. And true to his promise, Gavin will be there to stand and exchange salutes with her.

We have been through a long season of war. We have faced trials that were not foreseen, and divisions about how to move forward. But there is something in Gavin’s character, and America’s character, that will always triumph. Leaving here, you carry with you the respect of your fellow citizens. You will represent a nation with history and hope on our side. Your charge, now, is not only to protect our country, but to do what is right and just. As your Commander-in-Chief, I know you will. May God bless you. May God bless our men and women in uniform. And may God bless the United States of America.


Graduation Rites Have Ancient History

What is a new experience for most college graduates is actually a centuries-old rite of passage, from the degree once carefully scrawled on sheepskin ages ago, to the ceremony, which originated as Islamic tradition.

The concept of receiving a degree comes from Islam and is associated with getting a degree from a set curriculum, said Glen Cooper, BYU history professor. The ceremony, in Islamic tradition, is vindication of knowledge that licenses one to teach what one has learned.

The baccalaureate ceremony originates to 1432 at Oxford University where each bachelor was required to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of an academic exercise, according to the Net Glimpse Internet Web site, which deals with the history of ritual ceremonies.

Today, each graduating student need not give a sermon an educator associated with the university or a guest well respected by the school now does it.

The traditional graduation dress of cap and gown started in the 13th and 14th centuries when universities began forming throughout Europe, Cooper said. The graduation cap and gown date back to England. In the late 1800s, colors were assigned to signify certain areas of study.

“The gowns were worn for two reasons: to symbolize they were scholars and also for religious status,” Cooper said.

Oxford and Cambridge are two of the few universities worldwide that require their professors to wear the gown within the classroom, signifying their educational status, Cooper said.

Master”s and doctoral graduates are given symbolic hoods that originate back to the Celts. Within the Celtic groups, only the Druid priests wore capes with hoods to symbolize their superior intelligence. The hood is presented during the baccalaureate ceremony and was originally worn as a head covering in the cold schools of the Middle Ages, according to the Brownislocks and The 3 Bears Web site that specializes in the history of graduation ceremonies.

Today the velvet color on the outer edge of the hood denotes the graduate”s degree -white for arts and letters, gold for science and brown for fine arts the same Web site stated.

At most high schools and universities, the tassels are first worn on the right and then flipped to the left upon receiving the diploma or degree to signify moving on from one stage of life to the next. Most graduates flip the tassel after the receipt of the degree others may flip the tassel before walking off of the stage, stated the Brownsilocks and The 3 Bears Web site “History of Graduation.”

Four different colors of tassels represent what degree the graduates are receiving. Yellow for a bachelor”s degree in science, pink for a degree in music, brown for fine arts and white for a bachelors degree in general education, said Eileen Johnson, a specialist in the BYU cap and gown office.

The first diplomas were made from paper-thin sheepskin, handwritten with ink, rolled and tied with a ribbon. This tradition continued until 100 years ago when the diplomas began to be printed on parchment, according to Net Glimpse.

The first class ring was made in 1835 for West Point U.S. Academy. The rings started off very plain but soon became more complex with stones and intricate dyes that were added. The Egyptians started this idea they felt that their scarab”s rings promised them eternal life, according to the Net Glimpse Web site.

Today rings are worn to show pride and a sense of accomplishment.

“Pomp and Circumstance” is the traditional graduation march. It was composed by Sir Edward Elgar and first performed on Oct. 19, 1901 in Liverpool, England. Although not every commencement uses this song, it was passed down to America from English institutions.

At BYU, the graduates ring the Y bell during graduation. They also are invited to attend a reception with President Samuelson at the Museum of Art.

Zachary Christensen, BYU alumnus who is now part of planning the graduation ceremony, was thankful to graduate from BYU.

“I was really excited that I got to participate in commencement with my friends,” he said. “It was the crowning event of my experience at BYU.”


Trump Made Inaccurate Claims About the Military During His West Point Speech

The president made misleading claims about his military budgets, the fight against the Islamic State and wars in the Middle East.

President Trump oversold his administration’s military record in a commencement speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Saturday. Here’s a fact-check of his claims.

“To ensure you have the very best equipment and technology available, my administration has embarked on a colossal rebuilding of the American armed forces, a record like no other. After years of devastating budget cuts and a military that was totally depleted from these endless wars, we have invested over $2 trillion — trillion, that’s with a ‘T’ — in the most powerful fighting force by far on the planet Earth.”

This is misleading. The $2 trillion figure refers to the defense budgets for the past three fiscal years: $671 billion in 2018, $685 billion in 2019 and $713 billion in 2020. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the military was “depleted” when he entered office and had seldom received such a large amount of money is wrong.

Adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon operated with larger budgets every year from the 2007 fiscal year to 2012 fiscal year, peaking at $848 billion in 2008.

Under Mr. Trump, the amount appropriated for procurement — buying and upgrading equipment — averaged $132 billion over the past three fiscal years. That is lower than the annual averages of $134 billion under President Barack Obama and $140 billion under President George W. Bush.

Though the Trump administration has invested in operational readiness, there are signs that the military continues to face substantial challenges in addressing an array of threats from around the world.

For example, the military earned a middling grade of “marginal” last year in the conservative Heritage Foundation’s annual index of military strength, based on factors like shortages in personnel and aging equipment. The think tank noted that American forces are probably capable of meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict but “would be very hard-pressed to do more and certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies.”

While the military has received some new equipment, it still continues to use aging supplies, including decades-old planes, ships and submarines.

Obtaining new equipment can also be a long process. In May 2018, for example, Mr. Trump told Naval Academy graduates that the Navy’s fleet would grow to 355 ships “very soon” — a number officials estimated would not be reached until the 2050s. More than two years after Mr. Trump made that claim, Navy records show it has a fleet of 299 “deployable battle force ships,” an increase of 16 ships.

“The savage ISIS caliphate has been 100 percent destroyed under the Trump administration.”

This is exaggerated. While the Islamic State has been pushed out of its so-called caliphate, the extremist group continues to carry out attacks. And some of the territorial gains made by American troops and their allies predate the Trump administration.

The research firm IHS Markit estimated that the Islamic State lost about a third of its territory from January 2015 to January 2017, while Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the group, has said 50 percent of those losses occurred before 2017.

Officials and experts had always anticipated that the campaign, which started in 2014 during the Obama administration, would result in pushing the extremist group out of its self-declared caliphate.

In October, Mr. Trump tweeted a claim similar to what he said in his West Point speech. “When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area,” Trump said. “We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate.” Mr. McGurk responded to the president on Twitter that “none of this is true.”

“We are ending the era of endless wars. In its place is a renewed cleareyed focus on defending America’s vital interests.”

This is exaggerated. Mr. Trump campaigned on a promise to end wars in the Middle East but has yet to fulfill this promise.

In February, the United States signed a deal with the Taliban laying out a timetable for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan within 12 to 14 months if the insurgent group met certain conditions. In recent months, Mr. Trump has repeatedly voiced a desire to leave Afghanistan sooner than that.

The New York Times reported in May that there were fewer than 12,000 troops in Afghanistan, a higher number than the 9,200 who were there at the end of 2016.

In December 2018, Mr. Trump ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from Syria. Roughly 1,000 remained by October 2019, when Mr. Trump ordered withdrawal again. A February report from the Defense Department’s inspector general estimated that 500 troops remained in northeastern Syria and an additional 100 were stationed at a desert outpost in the southeast. (In comparison, the Obama administration announced in December 2016 that it was increasing its forces deployed to Syria to 500.)

There are currently about 5,200 American troops in Iraq — about level with the 5,262 reported at the end of 2016. Though there are plans to reduce the number to as few as 2,500, there are no fixed timetables or numbers.


Watch the video: West Point Rooms and Hyperrealism


Comments:

  1. Drefan

    In your place I would have asked for assistance from the users of this forum.

  2. Brainard

    the analogues exist?

  3. Abramo

    I believe that you are wrong. I propose to discuss it.



Write a message