Obama sings hymn to American power, focuses on Islamic state threat

Obama SOTU 2016

Presenting an annual report card and a legacy review of his entire Presidency in his last State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama focused on his myriad accomplishments during his seven years in office, with a special focus on terror groups and the global role of US. He also spoke about the progress the US has made since the economic crisis in 2008 when he was elected as president amid a host of socio-political crises in his country.

Obama repudiated gloom-and-doom theorists who are prone to spin narratives of America’s decline and underlined that today The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. “I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. Let me tell you something. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth, period. Period.”

Setting an ambitious vision for the future of the US and his successor in November 2016, Mr Obama focused on the larger global role the US will continue to play and underlined increased commitment to combat terror groups like the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda. The Obama administration has had mixed results in its foreign policy. While it scored successes in renewing links with Cuba, the historic nuclear deal between Iran, a global climate change accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it has had setbacks in its Syria policy and the Middle East at large. The administration has often been criticised by opponents domestically and abroad as weak and indifferent in combating terror.

Speaking about combating terror, Mr Obama said, “If you doubt America’s commitment ‘ or mine ‘ to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al-Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.” Mr Obama emphasised on the need for a comprehensive foreign policy, saying “America’s foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al-Qaeda, but it can’t stop there.”

He also dwelled on the growing threat of IS and the use of the internet by terror groups. “They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; their actions undermine and destabilize our allies. We have to take them out,” Mr Obama said.

The historic nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 member countries and the role played by US in the deal also figured in Mr Obama’s address. “That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. And as we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war,” Mr Obama said.

He also spoke about Cuba, TPP and other foreign policy goals of the US.

Highlights

Here are some of the highlights from US President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address delivered in Washington DC on January 12, 2016.

  • Our foreign policy has to be focused on the threat from ISIL and Al Qaida, but it can’t stop there. For even without ISIL, even without Al Qaida, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world — in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, in parts of Central America and Africa and Asia.
  • The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet-bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.
  • I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. Let me tell you something. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth, period. Period.
  • It’s not even close. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.
  • We forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets, and protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia. It cuts 18,000 taxes on products made in America which will then support more good jobs here in America. With TPP, China does not set the rules in that region, we do. We want to show our strength in this new century? Approve this agreement, give us the tools to enforce it. It’s the right thing to do.  

 

(Sridhar Ramaswamy contributed inputs for this article)

 

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