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Economy, IS policy, Guantanamo and more: Obama’s speech in 11 quotes

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US President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared America has turned the page on years of war and economic hardship, in a populist-tinged State of the Union address that set up the battle to succeed him.

Emboldened by a stronger economy and better approval ratings, Obama called for a new chapter in US history that ushers in a fairer economy with a better shake for the middle class.

Obama also used the speech to call on Congress to authorise the use of force against the Islamic State jihadist group.

Here are the key quotes from Obama’s address.

Turning the page
“We are 15 years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many. But tonight, we turn the page.”

Economy for the few or the many?
“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?”

Clear verdict
“So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way.”


No new sanctions on Iran
“New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again.”

United from Pakistan to Paris
“We stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris.”

“We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office, to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.”

New Cuba approach
“When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.”

“Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.”

Fighting IS militants
“This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed.”

No bullies allowed
“We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy and reassuring our NATO allies.”


Shut it down
“It makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit (…) I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It’s not who we are.”

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