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Obama Defends His Foreign Policy: It's Not 'Always Sexy,' But It 'Avoids Errors


"You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run."

U.S. President Barack Obama steps down the ramp upon his arrival at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Obama is in Japan for a three-day state visit. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi) AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

President Barack Obama on Monday defended his administration’s track record on foreign policy, saying that while it might not always be “sexy,” it "avoids errors.”

U.S. President Barack Obama (AP) AP

The president, speaking at a joint press conference with the president of the Philippines on the final leg of his Asian tour, was responding to a question about recent criticism of the White House’s handling of the volatile situations in Ukraine and Syria.

“If you look at the results of what we've done over the last five years, it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger, our partnerships are stronger, and in the Asia Pacific region, just to take one example, we are much better positioned to work with the peoples here on a whole range of issues of mutual interest,” Obama said.

“And that may not always be sexy,” he said. “That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows. But it avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run. But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.”

The president had criticism of his own for those who have suggested that the correct answer to Russia’s provocation in the West is to arm Ukrainians.

“Do people actually think that somehow us sending some additional arms into Ukraine could potentially deter the Russian army?” Obama asked. “Or are we more likely to deter them by applying the sort of international pressure, diplomatic pressure and economic pressure that we’re applying?”

He said his job as president of the United States was “to deploy military force as a last resort, and to deploy it wisely.”

“Frankly, most of the foreign policy commentators that have questioned our policies would go headlong into a bunch of military adventures that the American people had no interest in participating in and would not advance our core security interests,” Obama said.

The Obama administration on Monday announced that it had launched a new round of economic sanctions against Russian companies and members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, a clear response to the Kremlin’s refusal to back away from Ukraine.

You can watch the president's remarks here (at the 4:06:06 mark):

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