President Barack Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening and set a record with the amount of times he threatened to veto Republican bills over the course of his final two years in office. While Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst delivered the official Republican rebuttal, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) issued a response of his own, focusing on foreign policy:
In too many corners of the globe, America’s enemies are strengthening, the threat from terrorist groups is growing, and American leadership is lacking. Tonight, the President did little to show that the United States is still the essential global leader in combating terrorism and maintaining peace. The world is very challenging, but too many conflicts have escaped the type of sustained and intense U.S. engagement our interests demand, whether it be Syria, Yemen, or Libya. The President has been eager to declare victory over jihadist groups. We can only wish it were so.
The President presented a false choice on Iran sanctions. We can have negotiations and more economic pressure. The Obama Administration has been negotiating with Tehran for over a year. Meanwhile, Tehran has advanced its nuclear capabilities. By the Administration’s own account, significant differences remain with Iran. One thing that could change Tehran’s resistance to accepting a meaningful and effective agreement to keep it from developing a nuclear weapons capability is the threat of more economic pressure. Economic pressure is the only reason the Iranian regime is at the table. Instead of ruling out what has worked, the President should work with Congress to increase the negotiating pressure on Iran.
Likewise, we badly need tougher sanctions on North Korea, especially in light of its cyberattacks.
Obama did not mention North Korea at all in the speech. With regard to sanctions on Iran, Obama again promised to veto any new economic sanctions, suggesting they would place a damper on negotiations. Analysts believe Iran is further developing its nuclear program and that the continuous delays in reaching an agreement have bought Iran much-needed time in order to achieve this.
Royce commended the president on his willingness to pass necessary legislation that would help combat the growing threat of ISIS throughout many parts of the world. He added that “strong leadership from the President, so far lacking, will be essential in building bipartisan support.”
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