"The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times," Obama said, including countering violent extremism and insurgency, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials, preventing conflict, helping poor countries feed themselves and care for their sick and fighting global warming.
"If we are successful in these tasks, that will lessen conflicts around the world," the president told about 20,000 people at the academy, on the Hudson River north of New York City. "It will be supportive of our efforts by our military to secure our country. We must pursue a strategy of national renewal and global leadership."
Noting this is the ninth straight wartime West Point graduation, Obama said the threat of global terrorism "is no less important today than it was in those days after 9/11."
He said the war against international terrorism differs from other wars in one key respect: "There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey's end -- no armistice, no banner headline. Though we have had more success in eliminating al-Qaida leaders in recent months than in recent years, they will continue to recruit, and plot, and exploit our open society."
Obama said failed terror plots like the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner and the failed Times Square car-bombing "show that pressure on networks like al-Qaida is forcing them to rely on terrorists with less time and space to train" them.