SOTU 2014 International Coverage: What Did The World Think Of President Obama’s State Of The Union Address

  @arjunkashyapa.kashyap@ibtimes.com on January 29 2014 3:23 AM
SOTU2014_In Session
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address in front of the U.S. Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2014. Reuters/Joshua Roberts

President Barack Obama spoke to the United States in his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday night. His words were followed closely by members of Congress, American citizens, and millions of people around the world. And, here is how 10 different media outlets around the world chose to report on his speech.

1. The Guardian

The UK-based Guardian had its reporters grade the president’s performance on some of the key issues he addressed during his speech Tuesday night. The publication’s finance and economics editor gave the president a C+ on the subject of the nation’s economy while its national security editor graded him D on foreign policy and national security. He earned another D on gun-control from a political columnist, while the publication's reporters gave him Cs on immigration, and climate change and energy.

2. BBC

The BBC picked up on Obama’s promise to do anything he could to reduce inequality in the U.S., and his threat to veto any bill that could jeopardize the administration’s efforts to get Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

“If this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it.  For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” Obama said during his address.

3. Xinhua

China’s Xinhua too led with Obama’s call to action in 2014 to reduce inequality in America while noting his statement that the U.S. is set to lead the world once again.

“For the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is,” Obama said in his address. “That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America.  After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.”

4. Al Jazeera America

On Al Jazeera America’s website late Tuesday night, there was an excerpt from the president’s speech that urged American businesses to raise workers’ minimum wage.

“Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here,” Obama noted in his address, adding that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would help families and improve demand for local businesses.

“It doesn’t involve any new bureaucratic program.  So join the rest of the country.  Say yes.  Give America a raise,” he said.

5. Press Trust of India

A headline from a brief report on the address, from the Press Trust of India, highlighted Obama’s comment about focusing on the Asia-Pacific region and his veto threat regarding the Iran talks.

“We will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific, where we support our allies, shape a future of greater security and prosperity, and extend a hand to those devastated by disaster,” Obama said in his address.

6. Al Arabiya English 

Al Arabiya English reported that Obama had reaffirmed his support for Syrian opposition groups, which have been waging a years-long war to displace President Bashar Assad, on the condition that the rebels eschew terrorism.

“In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects  the agenda of terrorist networks,” Obama said in his speech. 

The report also highlighted Obama’s remarks about the U.S. stance toward al Qaeda and its Guantanamo Bay prison, noting that Obama spoke about the U.S. having to be on the guard against al Qaeda's terror network, which has established itself in the Middle East and North Africa.

“While we have put al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world,” Obama said in his address.

Obama also called on Congress to lift restrictions on transferring al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and close its prison there, Al Arabiya noted.

“This needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” Obama said.

7. Straits Times 

Singapore’s Straits Times reported that Obama focused his speech on the economy calling it "the single bright spot on his agenda" and added that:

But in a move that is sure to generate the fiercest debate, he made it clear that he going to do it whether Congress cooperates with him or not.

“America does not stand still – and neither will I.  So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do,” Obama said in his address.

8. Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald, in its report of Obama’s address, chose to quote the American ambassador to Australia, John Berry, who said the president is no “lame duck.”

“He is going to take strong actions through the remainder of his term,” Berry said, adding that Obama had laid out a clear agenda with “some strong steps,” according to the Herald.

9. Bangkok Post

A report from the Bangkok Post said that Obama focused mainly on domestic issues and:

strayed into foreign policy only briefly during the one hour, 16-minute speech, as his cabinet and military brass looked on.

The report added:

He vowed to support democracy in Ukraine, warned Al-Qaeda's threat had evolved and yet again urged Congress to let him close the war on terror camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

10. Khaleej Times

The Dubai-based Khaleej Times reported that:
 

While his rhetoric was high flying, Obama’s actions were relatively modest, collectively amounting to an outpouring of frustration at the pace of legislative action with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and able to slow the president’s agenda.

 
In a separate report, the newspaper focused on Obama’s threat to veto proposals to punish Iran with new sanctions. The newspaper noted:
 

Faced with a Mideast awash with strife — from Cairo to Jerusalem to Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad — Obama focused on reversing a generation-old feud with Iran as a potential bright spot in the region.

 
And concluded that:
 

It was the sharpest part of a State of the Union speech Tuesday that overall was skimpy on details for his foreign policy agenda for the year.

 

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