In final SOTU address, Obama quotes Pope Francis, does not mention Israel

U.S. President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, focusing on such issues as the state of the economy, education, immigration, entrepreneurship, climate change, and more. The full text of the president's speech is available on

U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his last State of the Union address on Tuesday.

In the foreign policy arena, the president did not mention Israel. The speech was also delivered by the president on the heels of news that 10 U.S. sailors were detained by Iranian authorities, and the possibility of sanctions relief for the Islamic Republic as part of the nuclear deal with P5+1 nations being applied as early as this week. 

The following are excerpts from Obama's speech relating to foreign policy and the Middle East:

"The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period... No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin."

"The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia...Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria—states they see slipping away from their orbit. And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality." 

"Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both Al-Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage."

"For more than a year, America has led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology. If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote."

However, Obama also warned by quoting "His Holiness, Pope Francis," that "'to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.'”

In Syria, "We’re partnering with local forces and leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace. That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.  As we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war," Obama said.

In her Republican response, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) pointed to Obama's lack of reference to Israel, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East, and the focus of his administration on diplomacy with Iran at the expense of the Jewish state.

If the GOP “held the White House...We would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around," Haley said.

As Obama's last address came to a close, the Council of Foreign Relations has summarized the foreign policy positions of the 2016 presidential candidates on both sides of the political spectrum, available for browsing here.


Posted on January 12, 2016 .