National Security

Krauthammer: Obama’s West Point Speech ‘Literally Pointless’

Hayes: 'He doesn't really know what he's doing'

Columnist Charles Krauthammer called President Obama's foreign policy address at West Point Wednesday "literally pointless," adding it was "weak and defensive" and questioning using the platform of the U.S. Military Academy's graduation to answer his critics.

"I think the speech was literally pointless," he said on Special Report. "It was a defensive speech. It was an answer to the chorus of criticism, even from his side of the aisle, that it's been a weak, leaderless, rudderless foreign policy, which it has been …  He set out this ridiculous contrast between extreme isolationism on the one hand and almost a caricature of intervention on the other … There's not a person in American who's asking for boots on the ground in Syria or in Ukraine … I think it was a very weak and defensive speech and there was no response from any of the cadets. It was quiet as a mouse."

Krauthammer said a congressional source who served in the armed forces thought there was a "real pettiness and personalization" to Obama's address, which drew bipartisan disdain. One CNN reporter even said the response by the cadets to Obama was "pretty icy."

The Weekly Standard‘s Steve Hayes simply said Obama's echoes of criticism of former President George W. Bush's policies were a sign he "doesn't really know what he's doing."

"He doesn't have a clear foreign policy vision," Hayes said. "The best way to define himself is to define himself in opposition to those who have criticized him. The problem with this speech was it was an attempt to retroactively impose some kind of doctrine on the chaos we've lived through over the past five-and-a-half years. It's been an inconsistent, incoherent, sloppy foreign policy for five-and-a-half years with no apparent vision from the Commander in Chief, from the President of the United States."

NPR's Mara Liasson said Obama didn't come close to solving his foreign problems with the speech, pointing out Obama's habit of creating straw men in his addresses on both sides and positioning himself between them.

"What jumped out at me was how familiar it was," Liasson said. "He pretty much reiterated his foreign policy approach, which is to set up two extremes, kind of cartoonish extremes, one, isolationism, the other, boots on the ground everywhere, and say ‘Hey, I'm not for either of those. We have to be strong, we have to lead, but we don't always have to take military action.'"