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Obama Previews Security Policy

U.S. President Barack Obama.
U.S. President Barack Obama has declared that the United States cannot act alone in the world, and he is pressing for greater international cooperation.

His remarks, which came in a speech to graduating army cadets at the West Point military academy on May 22, are seen as a preview to next week's release of a new national security strategy.

A new national security policy is required of every U.S. president, and Obama's speech indicates a move away from the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Bush's national security strategy, laid out in 2002, defended pre-emptive war on grounds of national security. Bush described his largely unilateralist strategy as "distinctly American internationalism."

In comments suggesting a clear break from the Bush doctrine, Obama called for shared world leadership.

"The burdens of this century cannot fall on our soldiers alone. It also cannot fall on American shoulders alone," Obama said.

"Our adversaries would like to see America sap its strength by overextending our power. And in the past, we've always had the foresight to avoid acting alone."

Obama praised the work of U.S. troops in Iraq, saying he was proud that "we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer."

As for the ongoing mission in Afghanistan, Obama said the conflict began "only because our own cities and civilians were attacked by violent extremists" and the fight "continues only because that plotting persists to this day."

The U.S. leader said working internationally can be more complicated, but argued that success in places like Afghanistan depends on greater coordination among nations.

"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't," Obama said.

Obama also reached out to Muslims, recognizing their contributions to U.S. society and welcoming their service in the country's armed forces.

"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," the president said.

Obama's new national security policy is due to be released next week.

compiled from agency reports