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Trump Applauds ISIS Defeat, Keeps Heat on North Korea

“We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure,” president says during State of the Union

President Donald Trump speaks at Tuesday night’s State of the Union. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
President Donald Trump speaks at Tuesday night’s State of the Union. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday night touted the military’s success against the Islamic State terror group, his administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and intensifying pressure on North Korea as his key national security accomplishments in his first year in office.  

During his first State of the Union address, Trump also announced that he had signed an order to keep open the controversial Guantanamo Bay military detention facility in Cuba. And he called on Congress to lift defense budget caps as the two parties remain firmly at odds over spending, with Democrats insisting on equal increases for nondefense dollars. 

Trump also called on Congress to pass legislation ensuring that the United States sends foreign aid only to allies. Noting that a large group of countries in the U.N. General Assembly objected to the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump called on Congress to only appropriate foreign aid for “friends of America, not enemies.” 

Trump lauded the military for its successes against the Islamic State terror group in Syria and Iraq.

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“Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth,” Trump said. “One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria and in other locations as well. But there is much more work to be done.” 


In order to sustain the military’s progress, Trump vowed to keep open the Guantanamo Bay detention facility that houses terrorists plucked from foreign battlefields. 

Trump’s call for the detention facility to remain open rang redundant, though, as current law prohibits its closure. But he did suggest he could send new prisoners to Guantanamo, something that has not been done in a decade.

Trump has also directed Defense Secretary James Mattis to re-examine U.S. detention policy.

On North Korea, Trump promised that his administration is working to contain that country’s nuclear ambitions and to keep it from threatening the United States.

“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland,” Trump said. “We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.”

Trump offered few specifics on how he and his administration would work to contain the North Korean nuclear weapons program, which is now believed to have the capability to reach the continental U.S., but offered that his administration would not sit on its hands.

“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation,” Trump said. “I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”

Watch: Senators’ Bipartisan Procession to House: State of the Union 2018

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