Most of you State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

Presumably Ted Cruz et al are excluded from Obama’s estimations

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Threaten the full faith and credit of the United States State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

Credit rating agencies have been downgrading their credit ratings for the federal government since 2011 — starting with Standard & Poor’s downgrading from AAA to AA+. Their explicit reasoning was due to dysfunction in the federal government:

We believe there is a material risk that U.S. policymakers might not reach an agreement on how to address medium– and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013

Egan-Jones and Dagong have also downgraded the federal government’s credit rating, and Fitch issued a warning in October 2013 amidst the brinkmanship over the debt ceiling

These represent the first instances in American history of the federal government receiving a rating below AAA

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A new generation of heroes returns to civilian life. State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

Just as Obama praises veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, he also mythologizes them — calling them a “generation of heroes.” It evokes the myth of the “greatest generation” who fought in WWII, the veterans of the Civil War, and of course the OG patriots who participated in the revolution which founded the United States

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Because they help promote our long-term security. State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

Note that Obama first mentions that they do “these things” because they “help promote [American] long-term security,” and only then gives human rights principles as additional justification.

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In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country’s future. State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

Fortunately for Obama the political unrest in the Ukraine is a foreign policy venue wherein idealist and realist action is one and the same, since the protesters are agitating in favour of closer integration into the EU (as opposed to gravitating towards Russia’s bloc of power)

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Tunisia State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

You can almost pick the mind of the speechwriter who added this reference: it includes the Arab Spring in its global sweep, but is also the safest nation to commend — with Libya, Egypt, and Syria (!) all being failing states despite the earnest efforts of pro-democratic activists (among many other actors).

But even in Tunisia all is not well — in February 2013 Chokri Belaid, the leader of the leftist opposition party, was assassinated

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Burma, State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

Pundits are divided on whether Myanmar’s transition to democracy is indeed legitimate — the nation’s most famous reform politician Aung San Suu Kyi has also attracted controversy for her alleged complacency/silence amidst the persecution of Rohingya people following the 2012 Rakhine State riots.

Nonetheless, the US has extended a hand to Burma in light of pro-democratic reform — including most prominently a visit in 2011 by Hillary Clinton in her capacity as Secretary of State

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When Team USA marches the red, white, and blue into the Olympic Stadium – and brings home the gold. State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

Note the rhetorical usage of colours — “red, white, and blue” “[bringing] home the gold”

Obama is of course referring to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia — Feb 7-23 2014

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As Commander-in-Chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office. But I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it’s truly necessary; nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts. We must fight the battles that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us – large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.

So, even as we aggressively pursue terrorist networks – through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners – America must move off a permanent war footing. That’s why I’ve imposed prudent limits on the use of drones – for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence.
State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

While Obama is correct insofar as drones can act as a substitute of sorts for “boots on the ground,” the premise is nonetheless riddled with issues

Drones often result in collateral damage even when they eliminate their targets (and targeted killing — including of US citizens — without due process and off battlefields is itself worrying), but all too often end up killing citizens (such as a strike in December that killed a wedding party).

Even if you adopt the callous stance that they ultimately protect American interests — even at the cost of horrific human rights violations — that might not bear out, since drones antagonize and radicalize peoples in regions where strikes are commonplace (such as Yemen)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIb0wMfOFhw

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In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. State of the Union 2014 by President Barack Obama

Obama has good reason to only quickly mention Syria — although his inability to match his strong language (claiming the “red line” for US involvement was Syrian deployment of chemical weapons, which has likely occurred) with military involvement might keep the United States out of what has truly become a quagmire of a conflict, but makes him and the US as a whole look weak and either unable or unwilling to project force globally

While the unlikely negotiations to first remove chemical weapons and now more comprehensively hash out an armistice agreement could possibly succeed — which would be a late presidency coup for Mr. Obama — they are more likely to fail. Thus Obama is better off only quickly mentioning Syria

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