US President George W Bush has used the first State of the Union address of his second term to set out his domestic and foreign policy goals for the next four years.
Mr Bush hailed elections in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan and the Ukraine - highlighting his vision for spreading freedom and liberty around the world.
He also unveiled one of his major domestic ambitions for his second term - a radical reform of Social Security, the US public pensions scheme.
Criticism of Iran in the speech drew speculation that the US was preparing to attack the country. However, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has said such action is "not on the agenda at this point in time."
What did you think of President Bush's State of the Union speech? In your opinion, did he address the most important issues?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:
Did anyone happen to notice the woman hugging Mrs. Norwood, the mother of a Marine killed in Iraq, toward the end of his speech? That gesture spoke more than words can amply convey, and reminds me, yet again, that Mr. Bush is correct in reaching for his and, ultimately, all of our goals. The woman who hugged Mrs. Norwood was an Iraqi woman who just voted. Do people honestly appreciate the value of freedom and it's dividends? This undertaking in Iraq is a huge investment of human capital, both the U.S. and Iraq. I don't think many people really get it.
Laurel Palleson, Parker, Colorado, USA
Yet again, George W has chosen to ignore Global warming. Yesterday I read that scientists are warning that we have ten years to sort the problem out! Come on Mr Bush face up to it, PLEASE for our children's sake!
Diane, Merseyside, England
It was unbelievably rude of some members of congress to stage a sit-in and boo the president. It shows once again that partisan politics are more important to some than dealing with tough issues. Let us hope that in the days to come some of those sitting on the sidelines will step up to the plate on the social security issue.
Kim, Rock Island, IL
Talk of reforming Social Security has been going on for a few decades. I predict there will be a fierce battle in congress, but Social Security will see marginal changes at best. Some members of the President's own party are sceptical. I think what really bothers Democrats is that, like prescription drug programs for senior citizens, the President has taken an issue that has historically belonged to Democrats and made it his own.
I am proud of the President's stand on Social Security. As it stands now, my money market account earns more than my Social Security will yield for me. Social Security is clearly broken.
David, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Bush needs to be careful here - with Iran being a theocracy, religion takes a huge role in the governing of their country. If George Bush wants to install democracy in Iran, he needs to be careful with the words he uses when addressing Iran to make a step towards democracy, as this 'new' style of government does clash with the views of Islam. If the USA wants a war, then go to North Korea where their government is asking for one, not one for Iran where their nuclear weapons are not a threat to the protection of the Western world. If Bush wants other countries to disarm, then why doesn't he get rid of at least 70% of his nuclear weaponry and reduce the production of his 'weapons of mass destruction'?
John Edwards, Totnes, UK
I found Mr. Bush's speech realistic, hopeful, and encouraging. A well deserved respite from the left's endless negativity. I was glad to see the President begin to take on the problem of Social Security insolvency before it becomes an out of control, unmanageable, crisis. Will he succeed? Will politicians put this countries future above their own petty political aspirations and implement this unpopular but necessary reform? I hope so for all our sakes. President Bush has explained his plan and invited others to present their ideas and alternatives. It is a good start. Unfortunately all that has been offered so far is derision.
Steve Mac, Boston MA USA
The majority of Americans, myself and my family included, were moved to tears throughout the speech. We're so grateful to have such a leader.
Mark Simkiss, Philadelphia, USA
The Democrats will pay dearly for abandoning "decorum" inside the sacred chamber of the people. We are not Canada or Britain. Our institutions are revered by voters of all stripes. Booing and jeering will not stand. There are other ways to object. It is called the vote. Each member has hundreds of chances per year to exercise it.
Sharon Schafer, USA
None of the comments I have read have mentioned "the moment"... That is, when the parents who lost the son in Iraq were recognized and the lady from Iraq who voted in the face of terror, also being recognized, turned and hugged the mother of the fallen marine. No one here who is just venting seems to understand that America and Iraq are no longer about the petty grievances being listed here. We and the Iraqis are about that moment.
L. Nichols, West Texas, USA
Not a single mention or acknowledgement of the global threat of climate change. Unsurprising but nonetheless deeply disturbing, coming as it does from the leader of the largest CO2 polluter in the world.
Dominic Coath, Tunbridge Wells, UK
Whilst the elections in Iraq may have been an historic moment, Bush should start to consider the definitions of democracy and freedom. Simply being able to vote does not ensure a democratic state. It'll be interesting to see how, or if, democracy really does develop out of the elections. Bush, generally, is a disgrace to international politics and diplomacy. He should be concentrating on the Palestinian issue and leave the rest of the Middle East alone.
It is very easy to criticize someone else's plan, but before you open your mouth to criticize make sure you have a better plan of offer and it is apparently clear the Democrats have no plan at all. Sometimes it is better to try something and fail than to sit and watch something fail without trying anything.
His speech was clear, concise and bold. Politics went out the window and truth prevailed.
John Anderson, Fort Dodge, USA
The Republican agenda since 1935, when Franklin D. Roosevelt established the basis for a liberal social economic policy in America, has been to destroy any and all programs that cost them money. Thus it's no surprise that Social Security, one of the best economic safety net programs ever established anywhere, is in repeated jeopardy from Republican attacks. What most Americans don't seem to realize is that this supposedly "compassionate conservatism" really is a reactionary drive to elevate the rich at the expense of everyone else. During our Great Depression, Social Security lifted millions of the aged out of poverty by giving them a small monthly check that provided not only food and shelter but a measure of human dignity in their declining years. It's a measure of the callowness and lack of compassion of the Republicans that they wish to remove e this safety net under the guise of what they're calling an "ownership society". All that most of us will actually "own" in our old age will be our poverty, our hunger and our inability to survive.
Richard, Concord, New Hampshire, USA
The address was pathetic. I though Bush would tell us "how" he is going to do things and not "what" should be done. What he said was, "I am going to create more jobs, improve economy, health care, social security, armies..blah..blah.." By the way, it was hilarious to see the servile behaviour of the republicans who cheered, clapped and stood up after every damn comma and full stop of the address.
Rajat, Washington DC
I wish the media would quit using the word "reform" when describing Mr. Bush's wishes to "change" or "alter" social security. Reform means that something is improved... His "reforms" may be changes for the best in the eyes of President Bush, but they are bad changes for many Americans.
Claude Gruener, Austin TX U.S.A
Living in the heart of the Republican South, President Bush's speech should come as no surprise to me. Still, I am astounded at the rhetoric and apocalyptic overtones that Bush continues to use. I fear a world where men with saviour complexes have so much "power" over his "followers". I pray (yes, Democrats DO pray...) that somehow as a nation we can come together and fight our own tyrants within our nations capital... God save America.
Corinne C., NC, USA
I really don't understand how so many of my fellow Christians voted for this man. Is protecting the institution of marriage so important that you're prepared to put up with an wide-ranging assault on the Middle East and economic disaster at home? I personally think the auditors hit the nail on the head earlier this week, and that there's something very dodgy going on - I'd be more interested in Bush's challenge to oppressive regimes if he didn't focus on those with massive oil reserves.
Heather, Stockport, UK
I hail GW Bush for his stand on Marriage. He slammed gay and lesbian marriages activists for going against the institution of marriage. On Iran and Syria I disagree, because the same claims he gave us about Iraq never came to be. He has left Iraq a more dangerous place to live in than when Dictator Saddam Hussein was the president. We are tired of wars. No more wars, Mr. President
Maseme Machuka, Kampala, Uganda
It is interesting to me that whilst Europeans and Middle Easterners harp about America's ambitious nature, The EU is gobbling up all of Europe and now starting into Asia Minor by seeking to add Turkey to their union. Who is it that is expanding their borders? Seems to me it is the EU which has ambitions of "world dominance", not the USA.
Steve, Solon, Ohio USA
Bush is frightening in his self-appointed role of World leader. After getting his fingers burnt in the Middle East more than once, and with so many started campaigns still unfinished, why is he so keen to get involved in the internal affairs of Iran and Syria? Before making demands of other countries, perhaps he should give them some reason to respect him first. His arrogance is insulting and will not make him any friends.
When is everybody going to realize that George Bush's policies are actually working and making a positive impact?
Wade, Centreville, VA
The American people knew what to expect from this speech and we supported it. That is why George W Bush is still president. Those of you who lost and those in Europe can get over it. We won and your socialist agenda is going to have to wait at least four more years.
Daniel, Birmingham, AL, USA
Why do we even bother with a State of the Union? In every single address I have listened to the president takes a deep breath and says, "the State of our Union is strong." It is always strong. Twenty percent of American children are at risk of not having enough to eat on a daily basis, and we are a strong country. What nonsense!
President Bush is a man with big ideas and big dreams. This is the American way and I hope for my children's sake Mr Bush doesn't get many of his plans put into practice. It took a big idea man to bring down the Soviets and now it will take the same to bring down the terror groups. Either love Bush or hate him, but always remember America is where big ideas are born and flourish and become the world standards that people want to live by!
William Ward, San Francisco
Bush sent a clear message that freedom and democracy is on the march, starting in Eastern Europe and now in the Middle East and America will stand with freedom helping in any way that we can. Thanks to Tony Blair and Britain for standing and fighting with us against terrorism in all its forms.
Judson Leech, Albuquerque, NM, USA
Apparently, the state of the economy is a forgotten issue. Those of us still suffering from the recession during the first Bush term might as well forget about their quality of career and life being as good as it once was.
No matter what may occur in the second Bush term, the rosy picture Bush paints of the sorry economy and the fact that no WMDs were found in Iraq after Bush insisted they were will always be what this president will be remembered for down through the ages.
Kenneth, Hickory, North Carolina
For me, the most worrying thing about the president's State of the Union address was what he had to say about Iran. As with his pronouncements on Iraq, prior to taking action against that country, he appears to be linking Iran with terrorism.
I don't know whether Iran is associated with terrorism, but I now know that prior to the invasion Iraq was not, which makes me rather doubtful about what the president has to say on this matter. This does not bode well for those of us who regard the president's foreign policy so far to be a complete and utter disaster.
John Wallace, London, UK
I thought GW's speech was just fine. To those Americans who think so highly of Europe, let's talk about the jobless situation in Germany. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Daniel Arredondo, Houston, TX, USA
President Bush was confident and direct during the State of the Union. The success of the Iraqi people with the courage to carry out elections and vote in the face of terror supports the president's position that spreading freedom and helping set up democracies is key to the safety of the world. In regards to Social Security, his plan is bold but necessary for us workers younger than 40-years-old.
The suggested plan gives people the choice to contribute to the current system or put up to 4% of our salary into a Personal Account. The Personal Account will inject billions of dollars into the equity markets and into treasury bills. Further, upon death, only the Personal Account money can be passed down to family, a logical conclusion since the money belongs to the contributor. Good work Mr President!
Mike Garcia, Naperville, IL USA
Seemed to me to be a typical Bush speech, big on concepts but light on concrete facts. Social Security is not in any real immediate danger, no mention of the soaring deficits, as well as lots of flowery language, all designed to create a general warm and fuzzy feeling for Americans.
Call me cynical but the use of the grieving mother and the Iraqi activist made me immediately feel emotionally manipulated, but that's just me. I also take issue with this sudden reasoning that the Iraq war was all about "Freedom and Democracy" for Iraqis, with no mention of the now brushed aside WMD and al-Qaeda links.
Barry, Hamilton, Canada
This State of the Union Address (most likely influenced by Karl Rove) appears to be one of the greatest marketing campaigns ever created by a politician. A lot of what he said was contradictory to what he was doing. My personal favourite: "We don't want Americans to live in fear." Unfortunately, this is how he won the election and this is how he gets most of his agenda through.
Jonathan, Milwaukee, USA
I don't like a lot of what Bush wants, but when it comes to a change in Social Security, he is showing real leadership. This is a topic which terrifies politicians across the board. The DNC loudly says "We must maintain the status quo" but put forward no plans how to do this. By so forcefully approaching an unpopular topic that must be approached, it isn't going to go away, the president is once more showing the difference between a politician and a leader.
Paul Astle, Lansdale, USA
Great leaders are created, they are not born. They rise to the occasion when the crucible of events they did not create tests their mettle. Many melt under circumstances they cannot control. Others are tempered by the heat of those same circumstances and hardened into a great leader. The world has watched this mans resolve tempered into a conviction that has united the majority of American citizens behind him.
Douglas, Louisiana, USA
We have heard all these accusations and allegations about WMD, nuclear bombs, and democracy in the Middle East. It is all about America's domination, not democracy, in the rich oil region of the Middle East and safeguarding Israel's interests at the expense of America's working class and taxpayers. Iranians will defend their motherland from America's aggression and bullying demands. They may bomb us and destroy our cities but we will fight back. So Mr Bush stop bullying and act now if you dare.
Cyrus, Tehran, Iran
The US has the same problem as the UK, France, and Germany. These economies are not expanding at a rate that will sustain social programmes into the next century. The number of pensioners is increasing relative to workers, but both put money in circulation. Social Security payments return back to the economy. Speculation will close that down and depress markets further. You can't print money to solve this problem. The only solution is taxation and reductions in national ambitions such as military spending and charity. Bush is right that the imbalance is inevitable, but it's a manageable problem, but not via market speculation.
Richard Forster, Canterbury, UK
Money for war but not for pensions. What a depressing commentary on this president.
Barbara, Nelson, New Zealand
Reading the American contributions gives me great heart for the future. There do seem to be a large number of them who see Bush and his neo-cons for what they are. On a domestic level America is heading for a fall greater than 1929, which will drag us all down. Our only hope is that the US economy can survive until 2008 when the people of America will hopefully find someone to do the really tough job of rebuilding a shattered economy.
The hateful rhetoric against President Bush from Europe and the American left is nothing new. It was the same with Reagan in the 80s. But true leaders know that to solve difficult problems you have to accept the barrage of criticism from those who lack the courage to do the same. Bush's vision is simple: Democratic freedom leads to lasting peace, and the human desire for freedom cannot be held back. Millions of courageous Iraqis proved that on Sunday.
Bush is president, in the face of all of Europe's media and most of his own against him. Why don't you liberal leftists just accept it?
James, Cornwall, UK
While the President's speech was one of his better speeches, I'm really concerned about the response from those who disagree. I guess it would be easier to listen to the Democrats and do nothing concerning Social Security (SS). Is there an 'extreme urgency' in fixing SS? No, but it can't be ignored either. GW certainly has his weaknesses, but I think he could walk on water and his opponents, especial those here in the US, wouldn't think that's enough.
Gary, Charlotte USA
The State of the Union will always be bad as long as he is presenting it. You can expect him to pat himself on the back about the election in Iraq. He will probably say the words "Democracy, Liberty and Freedom" more times then we will care to count. He will leave by invoking fear, his favourite tactic, about the Social Security System. Basically new day with the same old spin and rhetoric.
John, Hammonton, NJ, USA
He will courageously address Social Security reform, which everyone knows is desperately needed in a program that hasn't changed since the 1930s. Better do it now, or it will be more painful later. If the Democrats don't like partial privatization, they'd better come up with alternative ideas.
Sue, New Jersey, USA
Absolutely outrageous. If this is the best man for the role of 'Leader of the Free World', I hate to think what the World's chances are for the next 4 years. It's evident Mr Bush is just a face for a much more dangerous party and ideology, namely that of the Neo-cons. The Neo-cons do not serve America's best interests but are deeply misguided individuals who favour the prosperity of a certain nation in the Middle East. Give us our Country back!
Nathan Andrews, Montana, USA
Except for his remarks about letting in guest workers to take away jobs that Americans allegedly "won't take," I agreed with his whole speech. As a young American who will retire after the system goes bankrupt I have a personal stake in seeing private account which will actually payout.
Colin Keesee, Moorpark, CA, USA
I find it increasingly difficult to sit through this president's speeches. I try to watch every presidential speech or press conference, especially the State of the Union speeches, but since when he unveiled his policy of pre-emption shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 and chills ran up my spine, I dread what he will say next. Worse than that are the "facts" that he uses to support his conclusions. Now that the administration has convinced itself that they went into Iraq not for the ghostly weapons of mass destruction but to set up a new democracy, I'm afraid of what foreign policy he will lay out tonight. It is going to be a long time, if ever, before the United States will be able to repair the damage this man is doing.
Bryce, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, US
Look out Iran and Syria!
Rex Gale, Bournemouth UK
President Bush may come across as boorish, cavalier, and not the most intelligent man ever, yet his conviction of principle and willingness to take on the toughest issues cannot be questioned. Staying the course in Iraq finally provided a clear shift towards democracy. To Europeans who consistently use anti-Americanism as a thoughtful intellectual response to US foreign policy, especially in Iraq, his action being fulfilled must be particularly galling. Taking on Social Security is the lightning rod of American politics, the Democrats merely say 'there is no problem'. Bush takes on the tough issues, and works to implement solutions.
Andy, Colorado Springs, USA
Though in previous years I've watched the State of the Union closely, this time I didn't make the effort. And in the hallowed halls of Harvard Law School, nor did many others. The apathy here contrasts sharply with the way the European media hangs on Bush's every word. For me, the US died on November 2, and we must now look elsewhere for our hopes for the future, and Europeans have to learn that their future is their own to make.
IM, Cambridge, MA (European ex-pat)
It's the shiny new Bush! He can talk without making up words and constantly stuttering (well, not too much anyway). I hate Bush's international politics and his moralist domestic policy is like hell unleashed on earth, but I have to say that I have no wish to live in a USA that still has our social security system, and so long as he never actually gets his ideas through, we'll all be fine. As for the rest of the world, bear with us. The ride will be bumpy. Did anyone else notice that the USA spurned talks with Europe and Iran just yesterday but he claimed in his speech that they're still going on? We're on the march, God help us, and God save the Middle East. From us.
Jay Logsdon, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
I am very, very concerned about Mr Bush's focus on Iran. His rhetoric about that country harbouring terrorists and developing nuclear weapons sounds hauntingly familiar.
Heidi, Seattle, USA
Why is Iran so important while North Korea has its nukes pointed right at us, not to mention they supposedly have been selling them to Libya?
Benjamin Stauffer, Mesa, AZ, USA
I think that this speech about Iran was no different than previous speeches - same words - terror sponsor and nuclear weapons. I think President Bush and his government must have a clearer policy than Iran.
Iman, Khansar, Iran
Mr Bush would like to free up the very large Social Security fund by parcelling it out to the beneficiary population and let them bet it on the roulette wheel on Wall Street. A nice shot in the arm for the stock brokers who contributed to his campaign. But a big gamble for the American citizen who must figure out where to place his chips and then live with the consequences. But, of course, the losers will be another president's problem won't they? It's short-sighted Washington politics at its worst.
Andrew Thomas, Bethesda, USA
"The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies." And spreading of democracy to Iraq was?
Paul B, NS, Canada
My reaction? I'm totally flummoxed once again by my president's brazenness, especially his proposal to use our already meagre pension benefits system to underwrite the Dow Jones and NASDAQ stock indexes. Beyond that I am dumbstruck.
Louis B Massano, Jersey City, New Jersey, US
What's the big deal about this speech? He says the same things every time he talks, ignoring the issues that really are important, like stem cell research and global warming.
Mike, Tenafly, NJ, US
Glad to see Bush work on the Palestinian/Israel issue. I see real hope and a future for both. Maybe Bush is not as stupid as the Europeans think. I voted for him.
Edy Wheeler, TX, USA
So often underestimated, so often triumphant over his grovelling critics. Take heed those who only live to complain and criticize. He's at it again! God bless President Bush.
Brian, Duluth, MN, USA
A great speech from a great man that talked about great accomplishments past and future. It's no wonder the liberals in the US and Europe hate him. He does what is right for America. God Bless him.
Rob, New York, USA
I think someone should ask the president to refrain from winking at members of the Supreme Court during the State of the Union. I think the Democrats are finally learning from the Prime Minister's Questions; they can boo the president if his point is wrong.
Liza, Chatham, MA
"The state of America is strong and confident." That is what he said, that is what President Bush said. People who hate America from Democrats to demagogues have many unhappy days ahead of them. The American nation gives every indication that its innate strengths will bring a renewal of prosperity and progress at an unprecedented level. Goodbye old Europe. You and your jealous hateful people will be cast into the ash bin of history. In a place where you can't even sell an apple at a discount unless the government says it's okay, nobody can have any hope and everyone is jealous of the USA. God bless America.
To Mark, USA, who is not prepared to tell us who he is. Come off it lad, Europe long has been way ahead of the US in all aspects. Thank God for that.
Peter Dewsnap, Conway, SC, USA
To Mark: We can see from your comments the level of ignorance of those who elected this self-righteous man to the presidency. This man has put this country on the edge of bankruptcy, while pouring our tax dollars into the pockets of VP Cheney and now frightens you and others like children with bedtime stories of Social Security disaster, as he attempts to place my money into the hands of Wall Street. Europe will be just fine - the Euro is outstripping and will soon replace the Dollar as the world's strongest currency, and the US will continue to fall to the bottom of the well dug by those who elected this president.
Mike R, California, USA/EU
The US did not go to Iraq to free its people; the images of Abu Ghraib will always be a reminder of the true designs of this campaign on the Arab world. I don't think the building of 14 air bases in Iraq is for the freedom of its people. My disrespect for this man is only surpassed by my disgust of the people who put him in office.
Tony, Virginia, US
Anyone who calls President Bush a liar does not understand the times or the higher calling he made to all free nations to join in the war on terrorism. Iraqis found WMD - "Western Made Democracy" and they showed how much they are willing to sacrifice for it. Meanwhile the IRA continues to dictate terms to the British government and bring down the true wealth of the United Kingdom.
I've lived long enough to know that GW Bush is the worst president ever to hold the office in my experience. Nixon, Bush Sr and Reagan were all preferable to GW Bush, at least to this Democrat. His domestic policies reflect the initiatives and desires of those who paid to have him re-elected. He is no friend of the working man, that's for sure. Now, he's paying back his Wall Street friends with the keys to the Social Security vault. A record deficit, a horrendous trade imbalance, a downward spiralling dollar, major blunders by his cabinet, the Iraq quagmire, the implementation of the most comprehensive propaganda machine since the Soviet Union disbanded. What is there to celebrate under this man?
Paul P, Pittsburgh, PA, US