Calling for a post-war era of unity and selflessness reportedly not seen since the wake of World War II, President Obama led and closed his State of the Union address with an invocation of the impressive list of national security accomplishments under his watch in the past year.
"For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq," Obama said. "For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al-Qaida's top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home."
Obama announced 23,000 troops in Afghanistan will come home by the end of the summer, sticking with his timetable for ending the surge on schedule, and then set out to convince lawmakers, voters – and perhaps GOP presidential contenders -- that his policies have kept terrorists on the run and unified a once-divided global community against Iran.
"Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better," he said, directly contrasting with the hawkish rhetoric of GOP contenders to unseat him.
Indeed, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have accused Obama of “appeasement” and endangering U.S. influence by abdicating strength in rhetoric and military posture. Obama has constantly pushed back — he recently responded to a reporter asking him about the appeasement charge with the retort: "Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaida leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement."
During his speech Tuesday evening, he again hit back at claims the U.S. has lost global influence during his term, arguing he has made good on a campaign promise of his own by reversing the legacy of the last Republican president, George W. Bush. "The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe," he said, "America is back."