The Business Times

US policy of 'strategic patience' needs to have credible backing

Published Tue, Feb 24, 2015 · 09:50 PM

US President Barack Obama has outlined the main principles driving his foreign policy in a new National Security Strategy (NSS) document released this month. In it, he proposed a nuanced American response to a series of threats, ranging from the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East and the assertive Russian policy in Ukraine to climate change.

Mr Obama offered in the new document a direct retort to the policies advanced by former president George W Bush after the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, which stressed the need for "anticipatory" military action against states and groups that pose a direct threat to US security. These principles helped justify the invasion of Iraq, a pre-emptive war of "regime change" that evolved into a strategic fiasco. The NSS document takes into consideration the changes that have occurred in the international system - the rise of new global powers and the emergence of a multi-polar international system as well as the pressure to reduce the defence budget and isolationist sentiments among Americans.

Hence, Mr Obama's call for a more restrained American approach in responding to global threats and in the use of military power abroad. Washington should deal with global crises with a sense of "strategic patience" and not rush to over-commit itself since many of the "security problems we face don't lend themselves to quick and easy fixes", he says. "We must always resist the overreach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear."


BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to



Get the latest coverage and full access to all BT premium content.


Browse corporate subscription here