State of the Union: President Obama on Setting Foreign Policy Priorities
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Climate change is just one
of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world. And that’s why
the third big question that we have to answer together is how to keep America safe and strong
without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation-build everywhere there’s a problem.
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. (Applause.)
Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. (Applause.) It’s not even close. We
spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest
fighting force in the history of the world. (Applause.)
No nation attacks us directly, or our allies, because they know that’s the path to ruin.
Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this
office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do
not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us.
(Applause.) I mean, it’s useful to level the set here,
because when we don’t, we don’t make good decisions.
Now, as someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a
dangerous time. But that’s not primarily because of some looming superpower out there,
and certainly not because of diminished American strength. In today’s world, we’re threatened
less by evil empires and more by failing states. The Middle East is going through a transformation
that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic
headwinds are blowing in from a Chinese economy that is in significant transition. Even as
their economy severely contracts, Russia is pouring resources in to prop up Ukraine and
Syria — client states that they saw slipping away from their orbit. And the international
system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.
It’s up to us, the United States of America, to help remake that system. And to do that
well it means that we’ve got to set priorities.