“While policy wonks may not have heard enough about their favorite things in the State of the Union Address, seven minutes was enough to make the point that the work is getting done.”
Having waited for a couple of months to speak on nuclear disarmament to the packed room of Linn County, Iowa activists, I got five minutes. I set my kitchen timer and said that if President Obama has five minutes to make a decision to use nuclear weapons after a strike against the United States, then surely I could say my piece in support of nuclear disarmament in five minutes as well. I set my timer and went to work. The bell went off just in time to turn the projection television on to watch the State of the Union Speech with those gathered.
My interest in the speech is foreign affairs and towards the end of the speech, at 9:03 PM CST to be more precise, President Obama ticked off the things his administration was working on in foreign affairs. He finished this portion of his speech at 9:10 PM CST. His message was that national security issues have always been a place where Americans have been able to come together, saying, “Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. We can argue all we want about who’s to blame for this, but I’m not interested in re-litigating the past. I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let’s put aside the schoolyard taunts about who’s tough. Let’s reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let’s leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future — for America and for the world.”
Obama then ticked off his list, pursuit of the terrorists of 9/11, strengthening the Homeland Security Department, filling gaps identified in the 2009 Christmas Day attack, banning torture by the United States, revitalizing partnerships around the world, killing or capturing hundreds of al Qaeda operatives, a troop surge in Afghanistan, initiating the end of the war in Iraq, negotiations with Russia on Strategic Arms Reductions (START), the Non-proliferation treaty, and a statement that violators of international agreements, Iran and North Korea, would “face growing consequences” and isolation from the world community.
For those of us who follow foreign affairs, this was enough because we can see the work being done in the State Department, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and throughout the administration. Whether it be Secretary Clinton speaking out on Internet Freedom, or a report from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on al Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia, the Obama administration is already delivering on the promise of keeping the United States secure and doing things necessary to reduce our risks in the world and hold rogue nations and terrorists accountable.
If we consider what the State Department is working on, it is a very long list of what should be important to us as citizens of the world, as Americans and members of a society that asks too often, “what’s in it for me?” A better question to ask is “what can we do as a nation to facilitate international cooperation and reduce the risks of living in a 21st century world community?”
While policy wonks may not have heard enough about their favorite things in the State of the Union Address, seven minutes was enough to make the point that the foreign affairs work is getting done.
I hope you will check out some of the links in this post and get more involved in understanding the work our country is doing in foreign affairs.