News / USA

Obama Details Afghan Troop Drawdown in State of Union Speech

President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress, Feb. 12, 2013
President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress, Feb. 12, 2013
Kent Klein
U.S. President Barack Obama says about one-half of American forces still in Afghanistan will leave the country by this time next year.  The president made the announcement during his annual State of the Union address, which focused largely on the U.S. economy.
 
The president said 34,000 troops will come home from Afghanistan over the next year. That would put the United States on pace to have all its combat forces out by the end of 2014, as planned.
 
“This drawdown will continue.  And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over,” he said.

Related video report by Carolyn Presutti
 

The president called for ongoing U.S. training of Afghan forces, and continued counterterrorism efforts worldwide, including a legal framework to guide those operations.
 
In his fifth annual address to Congress, and the first of his second term, Obama laid out his agenda for the coming year.
 
After his inaugural address last month emphasized social issues, the president used his State of the Union speech to refocus attention on his plan to boost the U.S. economy.
 
He called on both parties in Congress to support his proposals to help the middle class, create jobs and reduce the deficit.
 
“Nothing I am proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.  It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth,” he said.
 
In the Republican Party response, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, said Obama’s economic plan depends too heavily on government spending.
 
“And, therefore, as you heard tonight, his solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more,” he said.
 
Those polled in a recent Pew Research Center public opinion survey listed the economy, jobs and the budget deficit as their top concerns.
 
On foreign policy, the president issued a warning to North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test early Tuesday. 
 
“Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only further isolate them, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” Obama said.
 
Obama also said the U.S. and its allies will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
On Syria, the president pledged to keep the pressure up on the government there, but did not commit to military force.
 
He also announced that he will visit the Middle East in March, and promised continued support for Israel’s security and peace in the region.
 
On a key domestic issue, Obama asked lawmakers to speed passage of legislation to update U.S. immigration policy.
 
“As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts.  Now let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away, and America will be better for it.  Let’s get it done,” he said.
 
Senator Rubio agreed on the need for immigration reform, but he called for stricter enforcement of existing laws.
 
“We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally.  But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past, to secure our borders and enforce our laws,” Rubio said.
 
The president also appealed for passage of his gun control initiatives.  He said that more than 1,000 people have died from guns in America since the killing of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school in December.
 
He talked about one victim, a 15-year-old girl from Chicago named Hadiya Pendleton, who was gunned down days after marching in his inaugural parade.
 
“Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration.  And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house,” Obama said.
 
Hadiya’s parents were among the shooting victims’ families who attended the speech.
 
Obama will make separate trips to North Carolina, Georgia and Illinois this week to seek support for his agenda.
 
The annual address comes from a requirement in the U.S. Constitution that the president report to Congress “from time to time” on the state of the union.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
February 13, 2013 6:43 AM
everything has an end..but if karzai continues insisting that things have been worst due to the coming of NATO forces and failing to undestand the huge benefit that NATO has in afghanistan,troops could even return tomorrow...karzai had always been assured that NATO is not out to stay in afghanistan for life even though there be no taliban attacks.


by: Torialay Razaqyar from: Tampa Florida
February 12, 2013 11:20 PM
wow ! what a great speech.
keep your promises and go forward Mr. President.
help and protect democracy , human rights , civil rights , free dome and justice in America and all over the world.
great leaders makes the history, they don't hide from the history.
regards

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More