Obama rejects talk about a declining America

Updated: 2012-01-25 14:09


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US President Barack Obama on Tuesday night rejected the claim that America is in decline, though he acknowledged that his country cannot control every event in a changing world.

In his annual State of the Union address to the Congress, the president claimed that "The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe."

Obama rejects talk about a declining America
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as Vice President Joe Biden (L) and House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, listen on Capitol Hill in Washington January 24, 2012. [Photo/Agencies] 

"Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about," he said in his prime-time address.

"That's not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us," he said.

"That's not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin, from Cape Town to Rio, where opinions of America are higher than they've been in years."

"Yes, the world is changing; no, we can't control every event," he acknowledged, adding "But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs, and as long as I'm president, I intend to keep it that way."

Financial market regulation

Obama proposed  to establish a Financial Crimes Unit to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people's investments.

"I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by its own set of rules," Obama said in his speech.

"Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there's no real penalty for being a repeat offender. So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count," he noted.

Iran nuclear issue

Obama vowed to use all options possible in stopping Iran's alleged bid for a nuclear weapon, but did not rule out a peaceful resolution.

"Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal," the president said in speech.

"But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations," he said.

A day earlier, the United States and the European Union (EU) expanded their sanctions against Iran in their efforts to press the Islamic republic to abandon its attempt to obtain nuclear bombs.

The United States targeted Bank Tejarat, Iran's third largest, for sanctions, bringing 23 Iranian-linked financial institutions, including all of the country's largest state-owned banks, under US sanctions for their involvement in the republic's "illicit activities".

The EU foreign ministers agreed to ban imports of Iran's oil and impose sanctions on the country's central bank, the toughest measures ever applied on the republic over its nuclear program.

"Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one," Obama said, adding the Iranian government is "more isolated than ever before" with crippling sanctions against its leaders.

"And as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent," he vowed.

The United States and its allies are pressuring Iran to engage seriously in talks over its nuclear program, which the West says is a cover for making nuclear weapons, a claim rejected categorically by Iran.

Manufacturing in the US

Americans have a huge opportunity to bring manufacturing back, and "have to seize it", Obama said in his address.

"Ask yourself what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed," Obama said in his speech.

The US president said that business outsourcing jobs should not get a tax deduction anymore and every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay and hire in America.