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Obama: America a Superpower 'Whether We Like It or Not'

President Obama speaks at the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington April 13. (AP Photo)

Being a superpower ain't all that, at least according to President Obama

In a little-noticed remark at the close of the two-day nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C., this week, President Obama suggested the United States is somehow burdened by its military might -- a comment that drew a stern rebuke from his former rival in the presidential campaign. 

Obama was responding to a question Tuesday about how the summit would play into peace-making efforts in the Middle East when he addressed the downsides of -- by virtue of America's world stature -- being obligated to intervene in international conflicts. 

"It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them," Obama said. "And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure." 

The remark got little attention in mainstream coverage of the summit, but was picked up on several conservative blogs, which panned the president for suggesting Americans had grown weary of superpower status. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., slammed the leader of the free world Thursday, calling the remark a "direct contradiction to everything America believes in." 

"That's one of the more incredible statements I've ever heard a president of the United States make in modern times," McCain, a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war, told Fox News. "We are the dominant superpower, and we're the greatest force for good in the history of this country, and I thank God every day that we are a dominant superpower."

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