First, we stand united with people around the world who have been targeted by terrorists -- from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. (Applause.) We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we have done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies. (Applause.)
At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last 13 years. Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who have now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America.
In Iraq and Syria, American leadership -- including our military power -- is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. (Applause.) We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.
Now, this effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL. We need that authority. (Applause.)
Of course, it goes without saying that the Islamic State emerged out of an array of conditions which the US helped to create - not only in its destabilisation of the whole region, but in its encouragement of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to back Syria's Islamist rebels. The fact that the President has done this and reserves the right to act unilaterally against such 'terrorists' would have been noted by any serious observer. Instead the media was largely silent on these points and preferred to focus on 'middle-class economics'. But wait, it gets better.
Second, we’re demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small -- by opposing Russian aggression, and supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. (Applause.)
Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, as we were reinforcing our presence with frontline states, Mr. Putin’s aggression it was suggested was a masterful display of strategy and strength. That’s what I heard from some folks. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters. That’s how America leads -- not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve. (Applause.)
What's missing from this picture? Well, the coup which threw out Viktor Yanukovych was supported by NATO and the EU to bring Ukraine within the US-EU orbit of influence. The US opposes Russian aggression, but only as a response to its own unilateralism. Don't just take my word for it. Here's what Mikhail Gorbachev said in a recent interview with Der Spiegel.
NATO's eastward expansion has destroyed the European security architecture as it was defined in the Helsinki Final Act in 1975. The eastern expansion was a 180-degree reversal, a departure from the decision of the Paris Charter in 1990 taken together by all the European states to put the Cold War behind us for good. Russian proposals, like the one by former President Dmitri Medvedev that we should sit down together to work on a new security architecture, were arrogantly ignored by the West. We are now seeing the results.
NATO was founded to counter Soviet aggression. It makes little sense, if we accept its initial claims, why it would continue to exist after the fall of the Soviet Union. Not only does it exist, but it has been expanded. Now Obama brags about the economic sanctions he has imposed on Russia as a punishment. It's a clear message: the US will not accept the standards it applies to others.