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US cannot afford to withdraw from global role: Mullen
"I've worried for a few years about us receding from the global stage, for whatever reason, and certainly economic drivers are a huge part of that," said Mullen, when asked if economic pressures would limit the reach of US power.
Economic difficulties could "cause us to become more isolated," he said.
"And in that isolation, in a world that seems to speak to or clamor for connection, global engagement, that in fact, that we'll be able to do it for awhile, but in the long run, that isolation, I think, will hurt us," he said.
Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he has tried to bolster relations with countries and regions that serve as the world's "economic engines," including India, Brazil and China.
But he has criticized China for cutting off contacts with the US military, and insisted the US Navy will continue to operate in the Yellow Sea despite Beijing's objections.