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US remains indispensable; Taliban momentum broken: Obama

Last updated on: January 25, 2012 10:34 IST

Obama's 2012 pitch: US remains indispensable in world affairs

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America remains the one indispensable nation in the world affairs and those who talk that its power is towards decline do not know what they are talking about, United States President Barack Obama said.

"Yes, the world is changing; no, we can't control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs -- and as long as I am president, I intend to keep it that way," Obama said in his last State of the Union Address to the Congress before he faces voters.

In his nationally televised speech delivered at the Capitol Hill, Obama said the renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe.

"Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our iron-clad commitment to Israel's security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history," he said.

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Image: US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington
Photographs: Reuters

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'Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever'

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"We have made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions we have built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we have led against hunger and disease; from the blows we have dealt to our enemies; to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back," Obama said.

"Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they are talking about," Obama said in an apparent reference to the criticism to his foreign policy coming from Republican presidential candidates.

"That's not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us. That's not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio; where opinions of America are higher than they have been in years," he said.


Image: Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner listen
Photographs: Reuters

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'Defence strategy to ensure US has finest military'

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Obama said he has proposed a new defence strategy that ensures the US maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget. "To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I have already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing danger of cyber-threats," he said.

Obama said one of his proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get Oasma bin Laden. "On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn't matter. Just like it didn't matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates -- a man who was George Bush's defence secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president," he said.

"All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn't deserve credit for the mission," Obama said.It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job.

"The pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the com#163 the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs," he said."More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other -- because you can't charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there is someone behind you, watching your back," Obama said.

Image: Obama arrives to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington
Photographs: Reuters

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'The momentum of Taliban has been broken'

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The momentum of Taliban has been broken and remaining the Al Qaeda operatives are scrambling to escape from the US' reach, Obama said.

"This decisive blow against these extremist organisations has been mainly because of the focused approach and end of war in Iraq. Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From Pakistan to Yemen, Al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can't escape the reach of the United States of America," he said.

"From this position of strength, we have begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. 10,000 of our troops have come home. 23,000 more will leave by the end of this summer."This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America," he said in his speech to the US Congress.Moments after he drive drown from White House to Capitol Hill, Obama told lawmakers that this generation of heroes has made the US safer and more respected around the world.



Image: This was Obama's last address before the polls
Photographs: Reuters

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'For first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq'

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"For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda's top lieutenants have been defeated. Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home," he said.

"These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of US' Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They are not consumed with personal ambition. They don't obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together," Obama said.



Image: Obama receives a standing ovation as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington
Photographs: Reuters

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'US determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapon'

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The United States is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Obama, said adding that no option is off the table against Tehran as the tension between the two nation has increased in recent weeks. "Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal," he added.

Recent weeks has seen an increased tension between the two countries.Obama, at the same time, noted that a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible."A peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations," he said.

The US President said his administration will safeguard the US' own security against those who threaten its citizens, friends, and interests. "Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one," he said."The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent," the US President said.



Image: (Left to right) Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Attorney General Eric Holder, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applaud as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address
Photographs: Reuters
Tags: Iran , Obama , Tehran , America

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'Tyranny is no match for liberty'

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Referring to the Arab Spring in his speech, Obama said "as the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana'a to Tripoli. A year ago, Gaddafi was one of the world's longest-serving dictators -- a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone."

"And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change can't be reversed, and that human dignity can't be denied," Obama said referring to the developments in Syria.

"How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it is ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation," he said.

"We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings -- men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty," Obama said.



Image: Journalists watch a television broadcast of Obama's speech
Photographs: Reuters

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