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Obama: U.S. to maintain global presence

Jan. 21, 2013 - 01:00PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 21, 2013 - 01:00PM  |  
President Obama delivers his second term inaugural speech Jan. 21 during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington.
President Obama delivers his second term inaugural speech Jan. 21 during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington. (Thomas Brown / Staff)
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Presiden Obama, with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, is sworn in Jan. 21 by Chief Justice John G. Roberts during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington. (Thomas Brown / Staff)
President Obama and Vice President Biden, along with spouses Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, review the troops at the 57th Presidential Inauguration at the Capitol on Jan. 21. (Alan Lessig / Staff)

Taking the oath of office Monday, President Obama pledged to maintain America's power abroad while declaring that "a decade of war is now ending."

Obama's speech was wide-ranging but light on specific details, with a heavy focus on domestic policy. International affairs received only a short mention in the roughly 20-minute speech.

"America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation," Obama said in his comments.

"We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom," Obama continued.

Domestically, Obama indicated that he would push to protect entitlements such as Social Security and mentioned a number of liberal touchstones, including gay rights, climate change and voting rights.

Obama also indirectly called for action on major issues such as the debt ceiling and sequestration.

"For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said.

Though Obama did not directly mention the pending $500 billion, 10-year cut to planned Pentagon spending, his outgoing defense secretary did so just a couple hours later.

"If the president goes ahead with this sequestration, it'll do an irreparable damage to our military," Leon Panetta said during a television interview.

Of course, whether the sequestration cuts occur March 1 also depends largely on if congressional Republicans and Democrats can agree on an equal amount of other spending cuts and/or new revenues to permanently turn off the twin defense and domestic cuts.

Even before the inauguration began, Obama scored a victory along those lines. Minutes before the president entered to cheers from the crowd, reports emerged that the House GOP will hold a vote to raise the debt ceiling on Wednesday, a move that could avoid a first-ever government default.

After leaving the event, President Obama officially signed the nominations for four key positions, including Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary and John Brennan for CIA director. Their candidacy will now officially be sent to the Senate.

Defense News reporter John T. Bennett contributed to this report.

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