Putting aside a sudden crisis with Iran, President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Americans in his final State of the Union address to reject the politics of tribalism and fear that have rocked the campaign to find his successor and to build a “clear-eyed, big-hearted” and “optimistic” nation.
Reuters reports that on his final address Obama called on Congress to lift the embargo on Cuba. “Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy. It set us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people,” Obama said.
The President acknowledged that a torrent of change, technological advances and economic dislocation has left many Americans fearful of the future and anxious as social structures that have underpinned the life of the nation for decade’s fray. But he urged them not to fall prey to the periodic temptation that has emerged throughout history to alienate minorities and resist social change.
Criticizing Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, Obama said insulting Muslims hurt the US and "betrayed" its identity.
"When politicians insult Muslims ... that doesn't make us safer," he said, drawing applause from the crowd in the House of Representatives chamber. "It's just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals."
Obama also criticized those who say ISIL represents Islam. He said that's a lie, and rhetoric like that has pushed away allies the US needs to win the fight.
He was apparently alluding to Republican politicians who have demanded Obama declare war on "radical Islamic extremists".
The president repeated his declaration that the US will hunt ISIL down and destroy the armed group that controls territories in Iraq and Syria, reportedly.