The State of the Union on Foreign Policy – Translated
Barack Obama touched on some foreign policy issues in his State of the Union speech, eventually, toward the end, for a couple of minutes. Here are the important excerpts: On export controls: We need to export more of our goods. Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we ...
Barack Obama touched on some foreign policy issues in his State of the Union speech, eventually, toward the end, for a couple of minutes. Here are the important excerpts:
On export controls:
We need to export more of our goods. Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. To help meet this goal, we’re launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.
Translation: Yes, we realize Republicans are going to raise hell over loosening export regulations, but we’re willing to take the hit on the national security side of the ledger to score economic points.
We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. And that’s why we will continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia.
Translation: We are going to keep saying we are all for Free Trade Agreements but everybody knows there’s no bandwidth on Capitol Hill for that before the elections. So I’ll mention here some countries so no one say I can forgot about them. Maybe a good WTO case would make us seem active on the trade front. Just my luck, it’ll be against China. Oy vey.
In Afghanistan, we are increasing our troops and training Afghan Security Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. We will reward good governance, reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans – men and women alike. We are joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitment, and who will come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead. But I am confident we will succeed…
in the last year, hundreds of Al Qaeda’s fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed – far more than in 2008.
Translation: If you add more troops and spend more money, you can kill more bad guys. Whether or not that can convince Karzai to get his act together, who knows. Either way, we’re getting the heck out of there next year one way or the other, unless things are going so bad that it would look like a retreat.
As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as President. We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.
Translation: I’ll go ahead and take credit for the one problem that seems to be resolving itself. Phew.
To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. And at April’s Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring forty-four nations together behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.
Translation: We’ll get a START follow on agreement, don’t you worry. But we’re setting low expectations for the rest of the arms control agenda. CTBT? Fissile material treaty? Meaningful NPT review conference? Not this year.
On North Korea and Iran:
These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons. That is why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions – sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences.
Translation: Man, neither the Norks nor the Mullahs seem to want to actually improve relations. Hm, maybe it’s in their interest personally to have bad relations with the U.S.? Yikes, I better rethink this.
On China, the Middle East, the overall global fight against Islamic extremism, Sudan, human rights, cyber security, the Dalai Lama, and Guantanamo Bay?
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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