President Obama: American leadership means “rallying the world behind causes that are right”

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Presidente Obama addresses Congress.

In his seventh and final State of the Union address, President Obama said American leadership means “rallying the world behind causes that are right.” He highlighted U.S. cooperation with other countries to combat shared challenges like climate change and violent extremism.

Speaking to Congress, the Supreme Court, diplomatic guests and others at the U.S. Capitol on January 12, Obama said, “America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us.”

The president linked climate change to both international cooperation and global security. “When we lead nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change,” he said, “that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our kids.”

On countering violent extremism, Obama observed the United States leads a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off Daesh’s financing and recruitment, disrupt its plots and counter its ideology.

“With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we’re taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, their weapons. We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria,” he said.

Thanks to “sanctions and principled diplomacy,” Obama said, “Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.”

International cooperation was key to saving thousands, if not more than a million, lives from the Ebola virus in West Africa, the president added.

“Our military, our doctors, our development workers — they were heroic,” the president said. “They set up the platform that then allowed other countries to join in behind us and stamp out that epidemic.”

Newly restored diplomatic, travel and commercial ties to Cuba will “improve the lives of the Cuban people,” the president said. And once approved by Congress, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would “open markets, and protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia,” he said.

Obama concluded that the U.S. global standing is higher now than when he became president in 2009.