Protecting the American people and fighting terrorism is priority No. 1, but without the dramatic rhetoric, President Barack Obama said in his final State of the Union address on Tuesday.
“As we focus on destroying ISIL (the Islamic State militants), over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands,” he said. “That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit.
“We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions. We just need to call them what they are — killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down and destroyed.”
The U.S.-led coalition of more than 60 countries has conducted nearly 10,000 airstrikes on Islamic State targets, including oil facilities, training camps and weapons, said President Obama. And the U.S. is supporting fighters and militaries that are standing up to the terrorist group.
Like last year, he called on Congress to pass the authorization of military force against the Islamic State group. “Take a vote,” he said.
But “even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world — in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia,” said the president. “Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees.”
To address global problems, he urged a coalition-style approach, like the one taken in Syria, to ensure “other countries pull their own weight.” Collaboration helped with the Iran nuclear deal, the Ebola fight in West Africa and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, he added.
President Obama urged Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership: “You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it.” And lift the trade embargo on Cuba, he instructed Congress: “Recognize that the Cold War is over.”