Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Obama Defends Foreign Policy in State of the Union

President Obama offered a robust defense (NYT) of his record on the economic recovery, energy development, education, and global affairs in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. The president pushed an expansive foreign policy vision (WSJ) that touted progress on U.S.-Cuba relations, troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and nuclear negotiations with Iran while pressing for far-reaching cyber security legislation (Guardian). His focus on climate change framed energy policy as a national security issue, while his plea for Congressional support for major trade deals (Bloomberg) with Europe and Asia drew more support from Republicans than from fellow Democrats. On terrorism, the president lauded the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, but argued that Congress must pass a new resolution (Al Jazeera) authorizing force in Iraq and Syria.
"Even though this year’s State of the Union is Obama’s first since he was forced to deploy hundreds, and now thousands, of U.S. troops to Iraq to combat the Islamic State, the president’s message remains largely the same: the long war there is over, and he will not be launching a new one," writes Kate Brannen in Foreign Policy.
"It’s not surprising that Obama devoted so much of the foreign-policy section of his speech to Cuba. He clearly hoped that by this point in his presidency he’d be taking a victory lap not only for the recession he overcame but for the wars he brought to a close. Now, instead of ending hot wars, he has to be content ending a cold one," argues Peter Beinart in the Atlantic.

"The reaction from Republicans in Congress to President Obama’s State of the Union address was, as expected, broadly negative. But there are some issues the president identified that Republicans have said they could work with him on: authorizing military force in Iraq and Syria, new cybersecurity legislation, tax reform; and approving new free trade agreements," writes Tim Mak in the Daily Beast.