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President Obama stands with troops in front of flags

American Leadership in the World

When President Obama took office in 2009, America was engaged in two costly wars, faced a global economic crisis, and had a diminished standing with our allies and around the world. The President has refocused and reaffirmed American leadership in the world, recognizing that American strength derives not only from our military power but also our economic vitality, the depth and breadth of our global partnerships, and our values. In doing so, the President has remained relentless in taking action against terrorist networks, while also focusing on key emerging regions and policies that will shape the 21st century.

A bar chart showing that the number of troops deployed in Iraq was 144,000 in 2009, 44,000 in 2010, and 6,000 in 2016. A bar chart showing that the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan was 32,800 in 2009, 100,000 in 2010, and 8,400 in 2016.


President Obama on 8 Years of American Leadership in the World

Historic Diplomacy and Collective Action

Secured a landmark multilateral deal to roll back the Iranian nuclear program and verify that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon

If Iran tries to build a nuclear bomb today, how long would it take?

Nuclear physicists, military officials, non-proliferation experts, and more than 100 countries across the globe have all voiced their support for the Iran nuclear deal because it is the best solution available to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without taking military action. Learn mroe about the Iran Nuclear Deal.

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Built a historic opening to Cuba, ending a failed policy of over 50 years by re-establishing diplomatic relations and facilitating greater travel, commerce, and people-to-people ties

On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced that he was rejecting the failed, Cold War-era policy era of the past to chart a new course in Cuba. View a timeline of our new course in Cuba.

Watch: West Wing Week 3/25/16 or, “¡Hola, Cuba!”

Led global effort to achieve the Paris Agreement among 196 countries to take real action on climate change that calls for strong transparency, ensuring countries adhere to ambitious emissions reduction goals and setting the world on a course to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases

President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Paris Agreement on October 5, 2016

Learn more about President Obama's historic commitment to protecting the environment and reversing climate change.

Secured bilateral agreements with China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Mexico to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change

Big news: the United State and China just announced new targets to reduce carbon pullution

Read the joint announcement between the United States and China to work together toward the common good.

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Ensured the United States remained the world’s largest donor in humanitarian aid for refugees and displaced persons around the world, safely increased refugees accepted in the United States, and spurred global action with international and private sector partners in response to the worst refugee crisis since World War II

Secured the New START agreement, made substantial reductions in the U.S. nuclear stockpile, and reduced the role of nuclear weapons in our security strategy

Advanced a broader Latin America strategy through Central American development and security and the 100,000 Strong educational program

President Obama Speaks at a Town Hall With Young Leaders of the Americas in Jamaica

Read the President’s remarks

Strengthened cooperation with the United States' closest neighbors – Mexico and Canada – to secure our borders and grow the regional economy

National Security and American Values

Advanced open government throughout agencies and by launching the global Open Government Partnership to promote transparency, fight corruption, and transform the service delivery for citizens.

FACT SHEET: The United States Commitment to the Open Government Partnership and Open Government

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The Asia Rebalance and 21st Century Opportunity

Negotiated and concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country agreement representing nearly 40 percent of global economic output, to increase American trade with the fastest growing region in the world, based on an open, transparent, and level playing field

November 16, 2015: Fact Sheet: Advancing the Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific

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Learn more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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Expanded areas of cooperation with China while candidly addressing differences on human rights, cybersecurity, and the South China Sea

July 27, 2016: Why I’m Here: The Importance of the U.S.-China Relationship by Ambassador Susan Rice

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Modernized alliances with Japan and South Korea

President Obama Visits Hiroshima

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October 16, 2015: Joint Fact Sheet: The United States-Republic of Korea Alliance: Shared Values, New Frontiers

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Concluded new defense agreements with Australia and the Philippines that allow for the forward deployment of U.S. military assets for security cooperation and rapid response throughout the Asia-Pacific region

January 19, 2016:​ FACT SHEET: United States – Australia Cooperation: Deepening Our Strategic Partnership

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Watch: President Obama Addresses the University of Queensland

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Deepened relations with key emerging partners like Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia

FACT SHEET: Advancing the Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific​

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Watch: President Obama reflects on His Historic Visit in Laos

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Forged a 21st century partnership with India that includes closer cooperation on development and trade; defense and security; and clean energy and combating climate change

June 7, 2016: Joint Statement: The United States and India: Enduring Global Partners in the 21st Century

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Watch: On Board with Kal Penn: Travels with President Obama in India

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Strengthened the Asia-Pacific region’s institutional architecture through direct presidential engagements in multilateral fora like ASEAN, EAS, and APEC to reinforce their important role in establishing a rules-based order with common norms and principles

September 8, 2016: Fact Sheet: FACT SHEET: U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos

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Supported Burma’s historic transition to democracy by establishing a U.S. ambassador in Rangoon, increasing assistance, closely monitoring the first successful elections resulting in a peaceful transfer of power in Burma’s history, and lifting sanctions to bring Burma into the global economy

September 15, 2016: Watch: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi reflects on her first visit to the U.S. as an elected leader of Burma

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National and Economic Security in Cyberspace

Instituted a cybersecurity framework to raise the level of cybersecurity in our public, private, and consumer sectors to empower Americans to take better control of their digital security

February 12, 2014: Launch of the Cybersecurity Framework

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Directed the creation of a nonpartisan Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, including experts from the public and private sectors and academia, who assessed the state of cybersecurity in the United States and recommended bold, actionable steps to bolster our security in today's digital world

December 2, 2016: Statement by the President on the Report of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity

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Directed the Federal Government to take new actions in responding to and recovering from cyber incidents

July 26, 2016: Presidential Policy Directive -- United States Cyber Incident Coordination

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Established the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) to integrate all U.S. intelligence and analysis of malicious cyber threats to the nation

February 25, 2015: Cyber Thread Intelligence Integration Center

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Authorized the imposition of economic sanctions on any malicious cyber actors seeking to harm critical infrastructure, damage computer systems, or steal trade secrets and sensitive information

April 1, 2015: FACT SHEET: Executive Order Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities

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Development Based on Real Outcomes and Real Lives

Launched initiatives to build ties with young leaders of tomorrow in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Europe

Young African Leaders Initiative

Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative

Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative

Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016

Watch: President Obama participates in the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit with Mark Zuckerberg and entrepreneurs

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Learn more about the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit

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Committed the United States to the Sustainable Development Goals, including halving the number of people living in poverty by 2030

Watch: President Obama delivers remarks at White House Development Day

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Learn more about the White House Summit on Global Development

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Led the campaign that mobilized $22 billion in food security and agriculture assistance through programs like the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and Feed the Future

July 28, 2015: Fact Sheet: Partnering with Africa on Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation

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Maintained the largest investment by any nation to put an AIDS-free generation within our reach

September 26, 2015: Chart of the Week: How President Obama Plans to Put an AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach

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Launched the Power Africa Initiative to double access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa

July 25, 2015: Fact Sheet: Power Africa

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Watch: The President visits the Power Africa Innovation Fair

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Joined the First Lady in launching the Let Girls Learn Initiative, a government-wide approach to support adolescent girls education around the world

Learn more about Let Girls Learn.

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Partnered with fragile states to promote inclusive politics, effective and equitable service delivery, security and rule of law reform, and increased economic opportunity, particularly among youth and women

Remarks by President Obama to the People of Africa at African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 28, 2015

“A half-century into this independence era, it is long past time to put aside old stereotypes of an Africa forever mired in poverty and conflict. The world must recognize Africa’s extraordinary progress. Today, Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Africa’s middle class is projected to grow to more than one billion consumers. (Applause.) With hundreds of millions of mobile phones, surging access to the Internet, Africans are beginning to leapfrog old technologies into new prosperity. Africa is on the move, a new Africa is emerging.”

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Strength and Resilience at Home

Created the National Preparedness System to increase support to local communities, secure critical infrastructure nationwide, and work with private sector partners to prevent, respond, and recover from threats and hazards

February 12, 2013: Presidential Policy Directive -- Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience

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Increased community resilience to flood, earthquakes, drought, and wildfire across the United States and effectively managed response and recovery efforts for a growing number of yearly natural disasters

Watch: President Obama visits Joplin, Missouri, May 29, 2011

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September 27, 2016: FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces New Efforts to Increase National Preparedness by Building Community Capacity to Recover from Disasters

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January 30, 2015: Executive Order – Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input

February 2, 2016: Executive Order: Establishing a Federal Earthquake Risk Management Standard

March 21, 2016: Presidential Memorandum: Building National Capabilities for Long-Term Drought Resilience

May 18, 2016: Executive Order -- Wildland-Urban Interface Federal Risk Mitigation

Deployed TSA PreCheck, an expedited traveler screening program which has now enrolled over four million passengers, while ensuring passenger security on domestic and international flights through the use of improved terrorist watch list matching

May 10, 2012: Obama Administration Continues Efforts to Increase Travel and Tourism in the United States

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The Work Ahead

President Obama asked each member of his Cabinet to write an Exit Memo on the progress we’ve made, their vision for the country’s future, and the work that remains in order to achieve that vision. Here are their key points on the work ahead to refocus and reaffirm American leadership in the world.

Completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership

“The completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is essential to America’s economic strength, to our leadership in the Asia-Pacific region, and to our national security. But trade remains a complicated and highly charged topic for many citizens. To address these challenges, our government needs to reconsider our approach to delivering the benefits of completed trade agreements to our citizens.”
Secretary Pritzker

Safeguarding our Nation’s Cybersecurity

“Cyber threats are increasing in their frequency, scale, sophistication, and severity. This affects everyone, across the country and around the globe…. Earlier this month, the bipartisan Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity released its final report.  The Commission’s recommendations affirm the course that this Administration has laid out….  But the report also makes clear that there is much more to do.  I encourage the next Administration, Congress, the private sector, and the general public to build on the progress we have made and continue to make cybersecurity a top national security priority.”
Secretary Johnson

Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism

“The fight against ISIL and violent extremism more broadly is a generational challenge that cannot be won overnight. It will require efforts on the battlefield and online, today and in years to come. But I am absolutely confident that, working with our coalition partners, we will win this fight and ISIL will be defeated.”
Secretary Kerry

Closing Guantanamo Bay

“I remain convinced that the responsible closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay will benefit our national security….For this reason, in February 2016 the White House submitted a plan to Congress for the permanent closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo and an appropriate, secure, alternative location for housing those detainees in the United States. The next Administration should act to continue this progress and achieve the responsible closure of the Guantanamo detention facility.”
Secretary Carter

Investing in Global Development

“There is no question that we have hard work ahead of us. As a country and as a global community, we have to answer volatility with stability, injustice with human rights, despair with opportunity, and conflict with peace. We have to improve our national and economic security by building open and flourishing partners for the United States, enhancing global cooperation, and unlocking opportunities for American businesses in emerging markets. We need to maintain the strategic patience for transformation to take hold, and adapt our systems and institutions for today’s ever-changing world. And even as we respond to the most pressing global challenges, we need to have the foresight to invest in our shared future.”
Administrator Smith