President Obama Highlights Foreign Policy Achievements In Farewell Address

In a farewell address to the nation on January 10, 2017, President Obama offered his thanks to the American people for the last eight years, outlined ways his Administration has served American interests, and offered his vision on where we go from here as a country. The crux of his remarks focused on the importance of democracy, civic action, and staying true to our values. As he outlined progress made on a range of issues and discussed domestic challenges, the President also mentioned a number of interconnected global issues.

During his address, President Obama raised the global challenge of climate change. In particular, he emphasized how in just eight years the United States has halved its dependence on foreign oil, doubled its renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. “Without bolder action,” the President warned “our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects: more environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.”

President Obama also discussed, in depth, challenges and threats to our democracy and national security. He underscored that neither of these principles are built merely on military power or national affiliations but on principles such as the rule of law; human rights; freedom of religion, speech, and assembly; as well as an independent press. “That order is now being challenged -- first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets and open democracies and and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right,” he said. President Obama praised the United States military, intelligence community, law enforcement, and its diplomats as he noted, “no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years. And although Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Fort Hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists -- including bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe.”

President Obama underscored that protecting our way of life and our democracy is not just the job of the military. He explained, “Just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. And that’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans, who are just as patriotic as we are.”

 

 

President Obama also reiterated that in order to stay true to our values, we cannot withdraw from big global fights such as expanding democracy and human rights or women’s rights and LGBT rights. “No matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem, that's part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened. So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight.”

President Barack Obama waves as he is joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia Obama after giving his presidential farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, Tuesday, January 10, 2017. [AP Photo]

 

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President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, January 10, 2017. [AP Photo]
Posted by DipNote Bloggers
January 11, 2017

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