“American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed. Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists.”
“Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher sanctions, tighter sanctions than ever before. And on the Korean Peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.”
Foreign Policy quotes in Barack Obama’s “State of the Union” Speech
While only a few paragraphs toward the end of President Obama’s State of the Union address, America’s international goals and U.S. national security were at the core of his speech.
Obama mainly singled out the paramount need for the U.S. to compete in the global market place. He benchmarked the nation’s failings and successes in almost every area—education, energy, climate change, science and technology innovation—against rising powerhouses like China and India. And he called for America to invest more in our people and infrastructure—to lead and not lag—on the basis of winning against the country’s international competition.
Putting Americans back to work and giving people improved access to leading-edge transportation, communications and training, are imperative. Our own national security and world depended on it.
Sadly, many in the Congress refused to listen. Most Republicans define national security in purely military terms. They fail to see nation-building—at home and abroad—and diplomacy and foreign assistance as safeguarding U.S. interests and defense. Proposed Republican budget cuts to Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs weakens our front lines against a dangerous extremism and spiraling anti-Americanism around the world. Obama in his speech indicated that the Department of Defense must face cuts too in order to enable the government to build a stronger nation and safer globe.
The president mentioned Afghanistan and Iraq and the eventual move out of both and progress on sanctions on Iran. He did not give specifics about a host of international issues like climate change, global poverty, dealing with cuts in strategic nuclear arms, and how to deal with North Korea or move forward in the Middle East. This will be a time when the administration will have to make some hard choices including how to get further cuts in tactical nuclear weapons with the Russians and dealing with differences over missile defense systems in Europe.
At the end of the State of the Union, Obama highlighted the importance of the New START Treaty with Russia as vital to our efforts to contain nuclear weapon proliferation, and to maintain strong partnerships with our allies in Europe and with developing countries in this vital cause. But again, most Republicans failed to get the message.
Many pundits hailed this State of the Union a largely domestic political speech crafted to kick-off of the race for the White House in 2012. In fact, Obama was addressing the international challenges facing every nation, but particularly our own. He was laying out his strategy for world peace. He was asking Congress to join him in building a better world and safer America. If only they would listen.