Obama downplays threat of world turmoil in remarks to donors

Jim Snyder
Bloomberg News

President Barack Obama told Democratic donors that despite unrest in Ukraine and Iraq, the U.S. faces less of a threat than it did during the Cold War.

Speaking at a backyard barbecue Friday in Purchase, New York, Obama said the brutality of Islamic State extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria, as well as Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, have made Americans anxious about turmoil overseas.

The U.S. has confronted greater dangers and overcome them, including the stand-off with the former Soviet Union following World War II, he told about 250 supporters who paid as much as $15,000 per couple to attend.

“This is not something that’s comparable to the challenges we faced in the Cold War,” Obama said of the current crises. “This is something we can handle.”

Obama has moved cautiously in confronting Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine and combating the Islamic State extremists who have captured swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. On Aug. 8, he authorized airstrikes against the militants in Iraq while ordering surveillance flights over Syria.

Friday he again ruled out military action in Ukraine, saying a military solution won’t sort out the conflict there with Russia.

“The world has always been messy,” the president said. “We will get through these challenging times just like we have in the past.”

The event in Purchase was one of three fundraisers Obama attended Friday. It was held at the estate of former UBS Americas chief executive officer and longtime supporter Robert Wolf and his wife, Carol Wolf, coordinator for special projects at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.