America in Decline: How Will Obama Address it in the State of the Union

President Obama faces a weakening America as a world power due to looming cuts for the Department of Defense and weaker economy. The question is how the U.S. will cope with the challenges in spite of the limited resources to do so.

1. President Obama plans to withdraw half of the U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

The White House has stated that the U.S. will withdraw 34,000 U.S. combat troops by the end of 2013 as part of a broader drawdown plan.

We can look forward to his strategic vision about Afghanistan's readiness to take over its own security needs.

2. President Obama has personally chosen to not arm the rebels in the Syrian Civil War.

Last week, it was revealed that President Obama chose to keep U.S. arms out of the hands of the rebels in the Syrian Civil War.

The coalition formed by the rebels was their response to concerns about supporting the rebels faction in the civil war, which moved Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to support arming the rebels.

President Obama may well address his decision to stay out of the civil war.

3. The U.S. and the West remain committed to countering the Iran Nuclear Problem.

The Iranians are unwilling to engage in direct talks with the U.S. and have plans to step up their nuclear programs despite the crippling economic sanctions.

The upcoming election in Iran may account for why Iran is not eager to appear open to talks.

The U.S. is poised to increasing the economic sanctions. How will Obama handle all of this? He needs to address this to give us a clear plan on where the U.S. is going given continued tensions.

4. The North Korean Nuclear Problem continues to escalate with new tests.

The North Koreans are stepping up their nuclear weapons program with a new test and are directing the belligerence at the U.S.

The North Koreans have said that they will create a nuclear wepons arsenal to target the U.S.

China will be critical in convincing North Korea to back down. But how will this work with the next item, which puts the U.S. in potential contention with China.

5. Japan and the Philippines are nervous about China's assertive behavior.

China has been increasingly assertive in its territorial dispute with Japan and the Philippines over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. The U.S. is seen as the protector and/or partner of both these countries.

While conflict is unlikely to break out or draw in the U.S., the burden of supporting both countries will be worrisome. How will the U.S. manage this issue? The President is unlikely to address this sensitive issue, but it's very important.

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Dillon Zhou

Dillon currently works as a Foreign Teacher at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu. He graduated from International Relations Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2012. He previously worked at the Cyber Conflict Studies Association in Vienna, VA as a research assistant. He has also worked at the US Embassy in Tirana, Albania and JFK Library's Declassification Unit. His primary areas of interests are in US-China Relations and US Cyber Security Policy. He is proficient in speaking and reading Mandarin Chinese.

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