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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

Obama looks inward announcing early end to Afghan war

Critical commentary by Philip Fernando
Los Angeles, 13 February, (

President Barak Obama looked homeward in his State of the Union address as a non-compliant Republican House demanded lowering government spending.

He announced a fifty percent cut in US troops-34,000 in all-signaling the virtual end of the costly Afghan war while doubling expenditures on infrastructure and manufacturing in US.

President Obama also challenged the Congress to embrace his far reaching second-term agenda that includes new government investments touting the need to complete the recovery that began in 2008. Most analysts described Obama fifth State of the Union (SOTU) as forceful yet even-handed that anticipated the 2014 mid-term elections to Congress.

Obama had emphasized new initiatives to boost the economy for middle-class Americans facing a severe recession. This time around, he mentioned in greater detail proposals covering education, manufacturing, infrastructure and clean energy. “It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few,” he said. He was bent on encouraging free enterprise, rewarding individual initiative and opening the doors of opportunity to every child across USA

North Korea nuclear test

Obama took a dim view of the third nuclear test By North Korea in defiance of international pressure. Obama also renewed his pledge to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal by promising to shrink the number of nuclear weapons that the United States has already deployed.

He announced that the start of negotiations on a free trade agreement with the 27-member European Union. Many believe that this seventh Obama address to a joint session of Congress was perhaps the most exhaustive that would entail a wide area of legislative programs. The fierce urgency was the description given by Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior White House adviser. Many sensed that Obama appealed to the nationalistic urges of the Congress.

Opposition from Republicans

President Obama already faces formidable opposition from Republicans who control the House and have repeatedly blocked some of his top priorities. Republicans began using the Twitter mocked the nature of some of the proposals they saw coming. They unveiled a new Web site to respond to the president’s speech in real time. Youthful Senator Marco Rubio from Florida gave the direct response and called Obama proposals as being tied to big government. The son of immigrants from Cuba accused the president of thinking that free enterprise is “the cause of America’s problems.

The battle ahead inside the Congress would be on how the large federal deficit could be handled. Obama’s insistence that efforts to reduce the deficit must include a mix of spending cuts and tax increases would be the obvious bone of contention. Obama, however, repeated the call to eliminate tax write-off now made available to those in upper brackets, subsidies to bid oil and other such tax holidays.

Backdrop of personalities

Obama reserved his best for making an impassioned appeal to pass legislation to have background checks at all gun sales points as well as the elimination of magazines with unlimited bullets as is now permitted. Sitting with Michelle Obama in the first lady’s box were the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the young girl who was shot and killed in Chicago just days after performing at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony and a teacher from the Newtown, Conn., school gun massacre; small-business owners; members of the military; Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple; and immigration advocates.

It was perhaps the most forceful push for a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in the wake of the Newtown shootings in December.

Immigration reform

Immigration reform was also one of the highlights that received unanimous applause. Obama said that stated that he favored changes that would eventually allow 11 million illegal immigrants to earn a path to citizenship. He strongly urged Congress to pass legislation on this matter. There are several proposals now being talked of in both the House and Senate.

First, Obama added a chapter on gay rights to the official story of America as a continuing experiment in expanding freedom: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.” Women’s rights, blacks’ rights, gays’ rights. From now on that’s our story, and we’re sticking with it.

Obama also announced that the military is now open to everyone and there was no discrimination against gays. Women were allowed to be combatants for the first time in history. Said one commentator the evolution of the grand procession of American equality and civil rights is itself a milestone. From now on, the boilerplate rhetoric of all politicians would most likely cite “black or white, men or women, Christian or Jewish or Muslim, gay or straight,” and they will leave out the last pairing at their peril. So will the reference to all faithful in churches, synagogues, temples and mosques.

- Asian Tribune -

Obama looks inward announcing early end to Afghan war
Fifth Obama's State of the Union Address
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