Obama on the Record: Summit of the Americas - Page 5 of 10

Obama on the Record: Summit of the Americas

And I think that’s why it’s so important that in our interactions not just here in the hemisphere but around the world, that we recognize that our military power is just one arm of our power, and that we have to use our diplomatic and development aid in more intelligent ways so that people can see very practical, concrete improvements in the lives of ordinary persons as a consequence of U.S. foreign policy.

Chuck Todd.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Building a little bit, actually, on the answer that you had there, you’ve been to three continents now in the last three weeks, 40-odd world leaders that you’ve been in the same room with —

THE PRESIDENT: Time to get home. (Laughter.)

Q Yes, exactly.

THE PRESIDENT: I’m going to Iowa next week. (Laughter.)

Q Yes, talk about déjà vu.


Q What should — a lot of people are going to start trying to write about the “Obama doctrine.” What should be the — what are the pillars of that that you think people should be taking away — after observing you on the world stage the last three weeks, what are the pillars of the Obama doctrine?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, I will leave it up to you, Chuck, to write the definitive statement on Obamaism. But there are a couple of principles that I’ve tried to apply across the board: Number one, that the United States remains the most powerful, wealthiest nation on Earth, but we’re only one nation, and that the problems that we confront, whether it’s drug cartels, climate change, terrorism, you name it, can’t be solved just by one country. And I think if you start with that approach, then you are inclined to listen and not just talk.

And so in all these meetings what I’ve said is, we have some very clear ideas in terms of where the international community should be moving; we have some very specific national interests, starting with safety and security that we have to attend to; but we recognize that other countries have good ideas, too, and we want to hear them. And the fact that a good idea comes from a small country like a Costa Rica should not somehow diminish the fact that it’s a good idea. I think people appreciate that. So that’s number one.

Number two, I think that — I feel very strongly that when we are at our best, the United States represents a set of universal values and ideals — the idea of democratic practices, the idea of freedom of speech and religion, the idea of a civil society where people are free to pursue their dreams and not be imposed upon constantly by their government. So we’ve got a set of ideas that I think have broad applicability. But what I also believe is that other countries have different cultures, different perspectives, and are coming out of different histories, and that we do our best to promote our ideals and our values by our example.