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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama defends foreign policy approach with baseball metaphor

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Russia,National Security,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Asia,Foreign Policy,Philippines,Ukraine

President Obama used a baseball metaphor to describe his foreign policy choices in Ukraine and elsewhere in an attempt to push back against criticism that his cautious approach fails to deter other countries' aggression and makes the U.S. look weak abroad.

“Why is it that everyone is so eager to use military force?” Obama said at a press conference in the Philippines.

Sometimes a more measured approach is warranted, he said.

“You hit singles, you [hit] doubles and occasionally, you may be able to hit some home runs, he said.

Obama made the comments after providing more details about new sanctions against Russia, which the G-7 group of world leaders agreed to impose Friday.

The U.S. sanctions are expected to target key allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Russia's defense industry.

Some prominent U.S. lawmakers are calling for the U.S. to level broad sectoral sanctions against Russia's banking, energy, mining and defense sectors so they have more impact. But this latest round stopped short of that, hitting only individuals and the defense industry.

Obama said the sanctions are aimed at forcing Putin to "walk the walk, not just talk the talk" after an agreement in Geneva 10 days ago to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine failed to produce tangible results.

“The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin personally," Obama said. "The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he's engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul."

He freely admitted that the sanctions may not have any impact on Putin's calculations.

“We don't yet know whether it's going to work,” he said, noting the next step would be sectoral sanctions. World leaders have been reluctant to launch sectoral sanctions because Russia's economy is so interconnected with Europe's that they could hurt consumers and companies in their own countries.

The G-7 announcement came after a conference call Obama conducted Friday with European leaders the day after Secretary of State John Kerry issued what appeared to be a final warning to Russia that it could face additional costs if it didn't follow through on an agreement to de-escalate the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

Members of the G-7 include the U.S., the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.

The countries are not working in lockstep, however. Each one will craft the sanctions separately. European diplomats are scheduled to meet in Brussels Monday to decide how to structure the sanctions.

Obama spent Monday meeting with President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines and meeting with the employees and family members of the U.S. embassy there. In the evening he was scheduled to attend a state dinner with Aquino.

Before returning to Washington, D.C., Tuesday, the president will view an electric vehicle made in the Philippines and deliver remarks after meeting with troops at Fort Bonifacio, where he will later participate in a wreath-laying ceremony to honor fallen soldiers.

Later this week on Friday, Obama will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House for a discussion expected to focus on the crisis in Ukraine and the future of NATO amid the ongoing stand-off with Russia.

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Author:

Susan Crabtree

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner