Helpinghardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need forgood-paying jobs in this new economy. Maintaining the conditions of growth andcompetitiveness. This is where America needs to go. I believe it’s where theAmerican people want to go. It will make our economy stronger a year from now,15 years from now, and deep into the century ahead.

Of course, ifthere’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separateour work here at home from challenges beyond our shores.

My first dutyas Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America. In doing so,the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we makerash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when thefirst response to a challenge is to send in our military — then we riskgetting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy weneed for a safer, more prosperous world. That’s what our enemies want us to do.

I believe in asmarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine militarypower with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalitionbuilding; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that thisnew century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now. And around theglobe, it is making a difference.

First, westand united with people around the world who have been targeted by terrorists– from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. (Applause.) We willcontinue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reservethe right to act unilaterally, as we have done relentlessly since I took officeto take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.(Applause.)

At the sametime, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last 13 years. Instead ofAmericans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their securityforces, who have now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice bysupporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending largeground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to NorthAfrica to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America.

In Iraq andSyria, American leadership — including our military power — is stoppingISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in theMiddle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, todegrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. (Applause.) We’re alsosupporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, andassisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violentextremism.

Now, thiseffort 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 bypassing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL. We need thatauthority. (Applause.)

Second, we’redemonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding theprinciple that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russianaggression, and supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies.

Last year, aswe were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, as wewere reinforcing our presence with frontline states, Mr. Putin’s aggression itwas suggested was a masterful display of strategy and strength. That’s what Iheard from some folks. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and unitedwith our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters. That’show America leads — not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.

In Cuba, weare ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. (Applause.) Whenwhat you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.(Applause.) And our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy ofmistrust in our hemisphere. It removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba.It stands up for democratic values, and extends the hand of friendship to theCuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending theembargo.

As HisHoliness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “smallsteps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future inCuba. And after years in prison, we are overjoyed that Alan Gross is back wherehe belongs. Welcome home, Alan. We’re glad you’re here.

Our diplomacyis at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’vehalted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclearmaterial. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate acomprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran, secures America andour allies — including Israel, while avoiding yet another Middle Eastconflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keepall options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.

But newsanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all butguarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; making itharder to maintain sanctions; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclearprogram again. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why I will veto any newsanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. (Applause.) The Americanpeople expect us only to go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay trueto that wisdom.

Third, we’relooking beyond the issues that have consumed us in the past to shape the comingcentury. No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down ournetworks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families,especially our kids. (Applause.) So we’re making sure our government integratesintelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism.

And tonight, Iurge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet theevolving threat of cyber attacks, combat identity theft, and protect ourchildren’s information. That should be a bipartisan effort. (Applause.)

If we don’tact, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we cancontinue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunitiesfor people around the globe.

In WestAfrica, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses, our health careworkers are rolling back Ebola — saving countless lives and stopping thespread of disease. (Applause.) I could not be prouder of them, and I thank thisCongress for your bipartisan support of their efforts. But the job is not yetdone, and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective globaleffort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development,and eradicate extreme poverty.

In the AsiaPacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations playby the rules — in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, how theyparticipate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferationand disaster relief. And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threatto future generations than climate change. (Applause.)

2014 was theplanet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but thisdoes: 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15years of this century.

I’ve heardsome folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that wedon’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. Butyou know what, I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and at NOAA, andat our major universities. And the best scientists in the world are all tellingus that our activities are changing the climate, and if we don’t actforcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves,dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greatermigration and conflict and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says thatclimate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should actlike it. (Applause.)

And that’swhy, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever to combat climatechange, from the way we produce energy to the way we use it. That’s why we’veset aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. Andthat’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children byturning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure thatAmerican leadership drives international action. (Applause.)

In Beijing, wemade a historic announcement: The United States will double the pace at whichwe cut carbon pollution. And China committed, for the first time, to limitingtheir emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together,other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that this year the worldwill finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.

And there’sone last pillar of our leadership, and that’s the example of our values.