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Obama to recast his foreign policy image in West Point speech

President Obama's speech at West Point will aim to unify a foreign policy seen as improvised

After months of running his foreign policy like a firefighter responding to fire alarms around the globe, President Obama is worried that Americans don’t understand his overall approach and plans to launch a campaign to explain it over the coming months.

Beginning with a commencement speech this week at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Obama plans to lay out a broad vision for U.S. foreign policy that is “interventionist and internationalist, but not isolationist or unilateral,” a senior advisor familiar with the plans said Saturday.

“The United States is the only nation capable of galvanizing action,” said the advisor, who asked for anonymity to discuss White House plans in advance of the Wednesday address.

Obama believes that “we need to put that to use in an international system that is sustainable and enduring,” the advisor said, “and that can address challenges -- from traditional ones, like maritime and trade issues, to emerging ones, like climate change.”

With the U.S. nearing the end of its participation in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama sees the U.S. moving out of a period of war and entering a new one in which its global priorities are largely different, advisors say.

But while the administration has been focused on crises in Syria and Ukraine, and on fighting for equilibrium in the wake of massive leaks about its own national security and intelligence practices, the U.S. response has come across as more ad hoc than comprehensive.

Obama advisors realize this, said the senior official, acknowledging that they have “had to respond to a series of big events rather than talking about our overarching policy.”

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