Judging from the roster of attendees at the UN today, I would have been far more comfortable seeing our president handing out indictments to the assemblage than yet another round of apologies for America and rejections of American exceptionalism.
Of course, there is no point in dreaming that Barack Obama will wake up one day and actually defend the interests of this country. The fact is painfully evident that this man despises the country which elected him president and seeks only to change it for his own ends.
Today’s performance in front of the assembled tin pots and kleptocrats at Turtle Bay can hardly be seen in any other light. Don’t agree? Let’s go through it…
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman: it is my honor to address you for the first time as the forty-fourth President of the United States. I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me; mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history; and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad.
So far, so good.
I have been in office for just nine months, though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted – I believe – in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences, and outpaced by our problems. But they are also rooted in hope – the hope that real change is possible, and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change.
Gobbledygook, but inoffensive gobbledygook. We continue…
I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. This has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for our collective inaction.
Here we go. Obama opens with the “unilateral” card, which is nothing more than Democratic Party propaganda left over from 2004; it was unmitigated swill then and it continues to be. The “unilateral” charge arose from a John Kerry falsehood alleging that the 45-nation coalition Obama’s predecessor built to unseat Saddam Hussein in Iraq somehow represented a go-it-alone mentality because the French and Germans, who were up to their necks in corrupt bargains with the Ba’ath regime in Baghdad, wouldn’t participate. To dredge this bilge back up more than eight months after George W. Bush vacated the White House is worse than gratuitous; it represents an airing of dirty laundry in front of the world. Considering the audience, which consists of a collection of not only America’s enemies but some of the most dreadful tyrants the world has ever seen, to apologize for “unilateralism” as a sin worthy of contrition in front of that crowd is offensive in the extreme.
Like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 – more than at any point in human history – the interests of nations and peoples are shared.
He says he’ll never apologize for defending those interests, and yet he has spent his term as president apologizing for America’s entire history as a country. You can either see this as a blatant lie, or you can see it as breathtaking arrogance – Obama’s defense of America’s interests going forward will be blameless in contrast to that of all his predecessors. He then doubles down with the assertion that America’s interests are shared with “nations and peoples” – as though we are to believe that our interests don’t conflict with Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia, North Korea, Sudan or Iran. It’s hard to imagine a statement more thoroughly banal and damaging at the same time.
The religious convictions that we hold in our hearts can forge new bonds among people, or tear us apart. The technology we harness can light the path to peace, or forever darken it. The energy we use can sustain our planet, or destroy it. What happens to the hope of a single child – anywhere – can enrich our world, or impoverish it.
In this hall, we come from many places, but we share a common future. No longer do we have the luxury of indulging our differences to the exclusion of the work that we must do together. I have carried this message from London to Ankara; from Port of Spain to Moscow; from Accra to Cairo; and it’s what I will speak about today. Because the time has come for the world to move in a new direction. We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.
This is pablum, and on the surface it may sound good. But it is not leadership. “Engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect” lowers America’s standing to that of just another country and puts us on the same level as backwards armpits like Syria, Bolivia and Zimbabwe, with whom we share almost nothing. The people of those beleaguered countries certainly might not be dissimilar to Americans in terms of their hopes and dreams, but one reason they are unworthy to be addressed in terms of “mutual respect” is that their leadership doesn’t represent them.
And if you’re speaking to the UN General Assembly, you have to remember that your audience is not a bunch of Bolivian peasants or Burmese fishermen; it’s the despots who oppress them. And if you engage with them on the basis of mutual respect, you bring yourself down.
Should an American president engage with Ahmedinejad or Chavez, who both stole recent elections in their countries, on the basis of mutual respect? It’s disgraceful even to think in such terms.
We know the future will be forged by deeds and not simply words. Speeches alone will not solve our problems – it will take persistent action. So for those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions that we have taken in just nine months.
I’m holding my fire here. It’s hard.
On my first day in office, I prohibited – without exception or equivocation – the use of torture by the United States of America. I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and we are doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law. Every nation must know: America will live its values, and we will lead by example.
This is a broadside to his own country. For Obama to proclaim an end to torture is for him to admit it was done – when torture as a matter of policy is arguable at best and without question it is contrary to our interests to make such an admission without extracting similar mea culpas from the rest of the hall. After all, for Obama to admit America tortured its captives in front of the Cubans, Egyptians, Vietnamese and Libyans borders on the surreal.
We have set a clear and focused goal: to work with all members of this body to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies – a network that has killed thousands of people of many faiths and nations, and that plotted to blow up this very building. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, we – and many nations here – are helping those governments develop the capacity to take the lead in this effort, while working to advance opportunity and security for their people.
That’s a nice goal, but one hopes that Obama doesn’t seriously believe that “all members of this body” are interested in snuffing out Al Qaeda.
In Iraq, we are responsibly ending a war. We have removed American combat brigades from Iraqi cities, and set a deadline of next August to remove all of our combat brigades from Iraqi territory. And I have made clear that we will help Iraqis transition to full responsibility for their future, and keep our commitment to remove all American troops by the end of 2011.
And how’s that plan working, Barry? Seems like violence and instability in Iraq is up of late, not down. By the way, the only way to “responsibly end a war” is to WIN the thing. What he means by such an inane formulation escapes me.
I have outlined a comprehensive agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. In Moscow, the United States and Russia announced that we would pursue substantial reductions in our strategic warheads and launchers. At the Conference on Disarmament, we agreed on a work plan to negotiate an end to the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. And this week, my Secretary of State will become the first senior American representative to the annual Members Conference of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Regrettable in the extreme. A world without nuclear weapons is an irresponsibly naive and impossible goal; that bell cannot be unrung and a serious leader of the most important and powerful country on earth has absolutely no business promoting such an unrealistic agenda. I see absolutely zero benefit to the American people in Obama working toward the ends of which he speaks.
Upon taking office, I appointed a Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, and America has worked steadily and aggressively to advance the cause of two states – Israel and Palestine – in which peace and security take root, and the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians are respected.
More wasted effort. Israel and the Palestinians are at a stalemate and 30 years of attempts at making peace between them has only made things worse. Continuing those efforts doesn’t advance the interests of either America or freedom – and particularly given the stance Obama has taken toward the Israel-Palestine conflict, any efforts he makes are doomed to failure.
To confront climate change, we have invested 80 billion dollars in clean energy. We have substantially increased our fuel-efficiency standards. We have provided new incentives for conservation, launched an energy partnership across the Americas, and moved from a bystander to a leader in international climate negotiations.
There’s your mother of all wasted efforts. We don’t have $80 billion in the federal treasury to waste on uneconomic energy sources, our “unilateral” efforts on behalf of the fraud that is global warming have not persuaded China and India to follow suit and the restrictions on our freedoms in the name of the environment have set back our economy. None of this has made the lives of Obama’s countrymen better; he’s bragging about sacrifices we’ve had to make to no particular benefit.
To overcome an economic crisis that touches every corner of the world, we worked with the G-20 nations to forge a coordinated international response of over two trillion dollars in stimulus to bring the global economy back from the brink. We mobilized resources that helped prevent the crisis from spreading further to developing countries. And we joined with others to launch a $20 billion global food security initiative that will lend a hand to those who need it most, and help them build their own capacity.
Obama begged the G-20 to enact a stimulus package, but America, the UK and Italy were the only three countries to put out a significant expenditure. The rest of the group has largely seen an economic rebound, and yet the three countries who have followed Obama’s program are still in the doldrums. For him to claim credit for bringing the American economy back from the brink when it’s clearly still in the toilet is bad enough; now he’s taking that lie global. Cue the laugh track.
We have also re-engaged the United Nations. We have paid our bills. We have joined the Human Rights Council. We have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals. And we address our priorities here, in this institution – for instance, through the Security Council meeting that I will chair tomorrow on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and through the issues that I will discuss today.
In other words, we have broken bread with the world’s worst tyrants, hypocrites, thieves and liars. America disengaged from the Human Rights Council because it was governed by some of the worst violators of human rights on the planet and we were right to do so. To go back into that hornet’s nest is to legitimize it and that doesn’t further the cause of human rights at all.
But more than that, this entire passage implies some sort of disrepute on behalf of Obama’s predecessor – and that signifies the airing of dirty laundry in front of the UN. Does any other country practice internal partisan politics on the global stage like this? I’m not aware of any examples. This is petty, it signifies weakness and it’s classless. The American people deserve much, much better.
This is what we have done. But this is just a beginning. Some of our actions have yielded progress. Some have laid the groundwork for progress in the future. But make no mistake: this cannot be solely America’s endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone. We have sought – in word and deed – a new era of engagement with the world. Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.
Now that Obama has delegitimized America’s position as a world leader by assailing the history of its role in the world, he seems to think he can now rally the planet to his cause based on nine months of empty rhetoric. This is pure megalomania; I don’t know how else to describe it.
If we are honest with ourselves, we need to admit that we are not living up to that responsibility. Consider the course that we are on if we fail to confront the status quo. Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world. Protracted conflicts that grind on and on. Genocide and mass atrocities. More and more nations with nuclear weapons. Melting ice caps and ravaged populations. Persistent poverty and pandemic disease. I say this not to sow fear, but to state a fact: the magnitude of our challenges has yet to be met by the measure of our action.
Nothing occurring on the planet right now is any worse than it has been for the majority of human civilization. In fact, under the circumstances things are actually better than average. And if you’re going to lament all the world’s woes, how can you not once mention the words “freedom,” “liberty” or “rule of law?” It amazes me how Obama could possibly leave out the promotion of freedom and the lack of it in so many parts of the globe while discussing things which need to be fixed on the planet.
I find that telling.
This body was founded on the belief that the nations of the world could solve their problems together. Franklin Roosevelt, who died before he could see his vision for this institution become a reality, put it this way – and I quote: “The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one Nation…. It cannot be a peace of large nations – or of small nations. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.”
The cooperative effort of the whole world. Those words ring even more true today, when it is not simply peace – but our very health and prosperity that we hold in common. Yet I also know that this body is made up of sovereign states. And sadly, but not surprisingly, this body has often become a forum for sowing discord instead of forging common ground; a venue for playing politics and exploiting grievances rather than solving problems. After all, it is easy to walk up to this podium and to point fingers and stoke division. Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. Anyone can do that.
Anyone can spout drivel, too. Even the president of the United States of America. Can anyone make sense of the above?
Responsibility and leadership in the 21st century demand more. In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold. The traditional division between nations of the south and north makes no sense in an interconnected world. Nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long gone Cold War.
Was this an address to the UN, or the Comintern? Is there any difference? Obama just announced that he wants to level the playing field and put America on the same plane as Nigeria, Nicaragua and Nepal; we have made no more contribution to human society and have no more claim to geopolitical or economic supremacy than they do.
And “alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long gone Cold War” don’t make sense anymore, which is an announcement that we no longer see value in alliances with Western Europe or most of our other allies, for that matter. At least the Poles and Czechs can take solace that Obama’s betrayal of them last week wasn’t personal; we’re even dumping alliances which have stood the test of 75 years.
The time has come to realize that the old habits and arguments are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people. They lead nations to act in opposition to the very goals that they claim to pursue, and to vote – often in this body – against the interests of their own people. They build up walls between us and the future that our people seek, and the time has come for those walls to come down. Together, we must build new coalitions that bridge old divides – coalitions of different faiths and creeds; of north and south, east and west; black, white, and brown.
In other words, everything that has come before Obama is useless and must go to the dustbin. Obama will rearrange everything in his own image and so improve it. If there’s another interpretation of this, I’d like to hear it. I can’t make any sense of it any other way.
The choice is ours. We can be remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of the 20th century into the 21st; that put off hard choices, refused to look ahead, and failed to keep pace because we defined ourselves by what we were against instead of what we were for. Or, we can be a generation that chooses to see the shoreline beyond the rough waters ahead; that comes together to serve the common interests of human beings, and finally gives meaning to the promise embedded in the name given to this institution: the United Nations.
That is the future America wants – a future of peace and prosperity that we can only reach if we recognize that all nations have rights, but all nations have responsibilities as well. That is the bargain that makes this work. That must be the guiding principle of international cooperation.
Today, I put forward four pillars that are fundamental to the future that we want for our children: non-proliferation and disarmament; the promotion of peace and security; the preservation of our planet; and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.
Anybody see freedom or liberty anywhere? Me neither. Why isn’t the American president even mentioning these words? The promotion of freedom and democracy has been the stated aim of American foreign policy for a century, and this man won’t even mention it.
First, we must stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and seek the goal of a world without them.
Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is acceptable rhetoric, although it hardly represents the departure from past policy that Obama has spent the entire speech trashing. The no nukes business is, well, never mind.
This institution was founded at the dawn of the atomic age, in part because man’s capacity to kill had to be contained. For decades, we averted disaster, even under the shadow of a super-power stand-off. But today, the threat of proliferation is growing in scope and complexity. If we fail to act, we will invite nuclear arms races in every region, and the prospect of wars and acts of terror on a scale that we can hardly imagine.
And why is nuclear proliferation a threat? If Belgium and Canada became nuclear powers, would it be a threat to world peace and stability? No. The reason nuclear proliferation is a problem is that the people who want to get nukes are tyrants and killers; if you want to eliminate the nuclear threat, the best step you can take is to seek the removal of tyrants and killers from office.
Like in Iran, for example, where there are millions of brave patriots and seekers of freedom taking to the streets and risking their lives to protest a brutal, illegitimate and belligerent government bent on possessing nuclear weapons with which to practice genocide against Israel and disrupt the stability of the entire planet. Rather than take active steps to aid those people, who are the natural allies of the United States, Obama insists on unilateral capitulation to that illegitimate regime and unilateral disarmament of our nuclear arsenal – an arsenal, by the way, which has served as an effective deterrent to nuclear war from the time of its construction.
A fragile consensus stands in the way of this frightening outcome – the basic bargain that shapes the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. It says that all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; that nations with nuclear weapons have the responsibility to move toward disarmament; and those without them have the responsibility to forsake them. The next twelve months could be pivotal in determining whether this compact will be strengthened or will slowly dissolve.
How is such a compact to be strengthened? What is the benefit to those countries who have nuclear weapons to give them up? And how is such magnanimity to be verified? And why is an American president wasting his breath on such an unrealistic agenda?
America will keep our end of the bargain. We will pursue a new agreement with Russia to substantially reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. We will move forward with ratification of the Test Ban Treaty, and work with others to bring the Treaty into force so that nuclear testing is permanently prohibited. We will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts, and reduces the role of nuclear weapons. And we will call upon countries to begin negotiations in January on a treaty to end the production of fissile material for weapons.
Pitiful. What happens when the Russians cheat on their end of such a deal? And what about China? Where is their responsibility on this issue?
I will also host a Summit next April that reaffirms each nation’s responsibility to secure nuclear material on its territory, and to help those who can’t – because we must never allow a single nuclear device to fall into the hands of a violent extremist. And we will work to strengthen the institutions and initiatives that combat nuclear smuggling and theft.
We’re going to have a Summit on this. What’s the success rate of nuclear summits over the course of history?
All of this must support efforts to strengthen the NPT. Those nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences. This is not about singling out individual nations – it is about standing up for the rights of all nations that do live up to their responsibilities. Because a world in which IAEA inspections are avoided and the United Nation’s demands are ignored will leave all people less safe, and all nations less secure.
Singling out individual nations for their shortcomings in living up to treaty obligations is the ONLY way to enforce a treaty. What is Obama talking about?
In their actions to date, the governments of North Korea and Iran threaten to take us down this dangerous slope. We respect their rights as members of the community of nations. I am committed to diplomacy that opens a path to greater prosperity and a more secure peace for both nations if they live up to their obligations.
Ah, finally. At least he’s capable of naming the bad guys outside of the Republican Party. But he respects their rights.
But if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards; if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people; if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East – then they must be held accountable. The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that Treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future not belong to fear.
OK, let’s say all of that works. Then what? You still have the people of North Korea and Iran under the thumb of brutal, despotic, belligerent dictators who threaten their neighbors by other means. Obama is missing the mark by yapping about nuclear weapons when those are merely a symptom of a far greater problem.
That brings me to the second pillar for our future: the pursuit of peace.
The United Nations was born of the belief that the people of the world can live their lives, raise their families, and resolve their differences peacefully. And yet we know that in too many parts of the world, this ideal remains an abstraction. We can either accept that outcome as inevitable, and tolerate constant and crippling conflict. Or we can recognize that the yearning for peace is universal, and reassert our resolve to end conflicts around the world.
Promoting peace is a nice goal. Recognizing that the “yearning for peace is universal” is idiocy. If everyone wants peace, why is there war?
If you want peace, promote FREEDOM. The least belligerent countries on earth are free-market constitutional democracies. And yet our president will not even mention liberty IN PASSING.
That effort must begin with an unshakeable determination that the murder of innocent men, women and children will never be tolerated. On this, there can be no dispute. The violent extremists who promote conflict by distorting faith have discredited and isolated themselves. They offer nothing but hatred and destruction. In confronting them, America will forge lasting partnerships to target terrorists, share intelligence, coordinate law enforcement, and protect our people. We will permit no safe-haven for al Qaeda to launch attacks from Afghanistan or any other nation. We will stand by our friends on the front lines, as we and many nations will do in pledging support for the Pakistani people tomorrow. And we will pursue positive engagement that builds bridges among faiths, and new partnerships for opportunity.
Stand by our friends? Like whom?
But our efforts to promote peace cannot be limited to defeating violent extremists. For the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the hope of human beings – the belief that the future belongs to those who build, not destroy; the confidence that conflicts can end, and a new day begin.
Still, no mention of freedom. Without the freedom to build, how can the future belong to those who build?
That is why we will strengthen our support for effective peacekeeping, while energizing our efforts to prevent conflicts before they take hold. We will pursue a lasting peace in Sudan through support for the people of Darfur, and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, so that we secure the peace that the Sudanese people deserve. And in countries ravaged by violence – from Haiti to Congo to East Timor – we will work with the UN and other partners to support an enduring peace.
Bill Clinton had America’s military spread out to peacekeeping deployments in a list of countries nobody would believe, and here is Obama signalling that we’re about to reprise that exercise. And he also now drops the hint that he will commit us to an involvement in Sudan as a peacekeeping force. This is alarming, as the Darfur situation is a classic Mohammedan jihad right out of 635 A.D.; we can either fight the jihadists, or arm the Christians in order that they may do so, or we can stay out of the fray altogether. Peacekeeping in Darfur will present our troops as an even meatier target than the defenseless infidels there; this will be Mogadishu writ large in pursuit of absolutely zero American interest.
Obama is writing a tale of catastrophe in American foreign policy here. We should pray all of this is a pack of lies.
I will also continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world. Yesterday, I had a constructive meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. We have made some progress. Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians. As a result of these efforts by both sides, the economy in the West Bank has begun to grow. But more progress is needed. We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
As I’ve said, a waste of time. Nothing here is inherently evil, though it’s interesting that Obama now wants to tell Israelis where they can live. Freedom is on the march once again – right out the door.
The time has come to re-launch negotiations – without preconditions – that address the permanent-status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians; borders, refugees and Jerusalem. The goal is clear: two states living side by side in peace and security – a Jewish State of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people. As we pursue this goal, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbors. In pursuit of that goal, we will develop regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Not much new here; was this stuff lifted out of a Jimmy Carter speech?
I am not naïve. I know this will be difficult. But all of us must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we only lend it lip-service. To break the old patterns – to break the cycle of insecurity and despair – all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks over a constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and its right to exist in peace and security.
We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night. It is paid by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are God’s children. And after all of the politics and all of the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security. That is a lesson embedded in the three great faiths that call one small slice of Earth the Holy Land. And that is why – even though there will be setbacks, and false starts, and tough days – I will not waiver in my pursuit of peace.
Freedom, and the Rule Of Law. If those existed in the Palestinian territories, what effect would it have on peace negotiations? What effect on relations between Jew and Muslim? What effect on the Israeli girl and the Gazan boy?
And yet not a word. Obama offers the same platitudes previous presidents have offered, and his efforts at creating a peace in the Holy Land will be just as fruitless as those of his predecessors. This is the second of his four great initiatives; so far he’s hopeless on both counts.
Third, we must recognize that in the 21st century, there will be no peace unless we make take responsibility for the preservation of our planet.
The danger posed by climate change cannot be denied, and our responsibility to meet it must not be deferred. If we continue down our current course, every member of this Assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders. Our efforts to end conflicts will be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources. Development will be devastated by drought and famine. Land that human beings have lived on for millennia will disappear. Future generations will look back and wonder why we refused to act – why we failed to pass on intact the environment that was our inheritance.
Obviously Obama has been paying attention to the kooky pronouncements of his science czar John Holdren, who thinks sterilizing women by use of the water supply is a good idea (among other things). He also channels Al Gore in claiming “cannot be denied” status for the global warming hoax without offering any evidence whatsoever – and failing to acknowledge the evidence that no such phenomenon is currently taking place.
That is why the days when America dragged its feet on this issue are over. We will move forward with investments to transform our energy economy, while providing incentives to make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. We will press ahead with deep cuts in emissions to reach the goals that we set for 2020, and eventually 2050. We will continue to promote renewable energy and efficiency – and share new technologies – with countries around the world. And we will seize every opportunity for progress to address this threat in a cooperative effort with the whole world.
He can say this all he wants, but his ridiculous cap-and-trade legislation languishes in the Senate where members of his own party refuse to support it for fear that it would be the death knell of their careers. America is going to drag its heels on this issue, as we should.
Those wealthy nations that did so much to damage the environment in the 20th century must accept our obligation to lead. But responsibility does not end there. While we must acknowledge the need for differentiated responses, any effort to curb carbon emissions must include the fast-growing carbon emitters who can do more to reduce their air pollution without inhibiting growth. And any effort that fails to help the poorest nations both adapt to the problems that climate change has already wrought – and travel a path of clean development – will not work.
“The need for differentiated responses” is Greek for “affirmative action carbon policy,” and it signals that Obama’s policy is doomed to failure. All of this is rotten to the core.
It is hard to change something as fundamental as how we use energy. It’s even harder to do so in the midst of a global recession. Certainly, it will be tempting to sit back and wait for others to move first. But we cannot make this journey unless we all move forward together. As we head into Copenhagen, let us resolve to focus on what each of us can do for the sake of our common future.
He closes this part of his speech with an admission that what he suggests is bad policy and he begs the crowd to follow him off the cliff. Does anyone think he’ll have takers in Copenhagen?
This leads me to the final pillar that must fortify our future: a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.
The world is still recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In America, we see the engine of growth beginning to churn, yet many still struggle to find a job or pay their bills. Across the globe, we find promising signs, yet little certainty about what lies ahead. And far too many people in far too many places live through the daily crises that challenge our common humanity – the despair of an empty stomach; the thirst brought on by dwindling water; the injustice of a child dying from a treatable disease, or a mother losing her life as she gives birth.
Still no mention of freedom yet.
In Pittsburgh, we will work with the world’s largest economies to chart a course for growth that is balanced and sustained. That means vigilance to ensure that we do not let up until our people are back to work. That means taking steps to rekindle demand, so that a global recovery can be sustained. And that means setting new rules of the road and strengthening regulation for all financial centers, so that we put an end to the greed, excess and abuse that led us into disaster, and prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.
Freedom? Nope. Bureaucracy, regulation and unsound monetary policy for all the world.
At a time of such interdependence, we have a moral and pragmatic interest in broader questions of development. And so we will continue our historic effort to help people feed themselves. We have set aside $63 billion to carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS; to end deaths from tuberculosis and malaria; to eradicate polio; and to strengthen public health systems. We are joining with other countries to contribute H1N1 vaccines to the World Health Organization. We will integrate more economies into a system of global trade. We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s Summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.
No promotion of freedom, no promotion of the Rule of Law. There’s a laundry list of government health initiatives, regulations and finally a veiled threat at redistribution of wealth. This in his “Economic Development” chapter.
Now is the time for all of us to do our part. Growth will not be sustained or shared unless all nations embrace their responsibility. Wealthy nations must open their markets to more goods and extend a hand to those with less, while reforming international institutions to give more nations a greater voice. Developing nations must root out the corruption that is an obstacle to progress – for opportunity cannot thrive where individuals are oppressed and business have to pay bribes. That’s why we will support honest police and independent judges; civil society and a vibrant private sector. Our goal is simple: a global economy in which growth is sustained, and opportunity is available to all.
Open markets? Last week Obama touched off a trade war with China and he refuses to sign the free trade agreement with Colombia, so that line is bunk. Reforming institutions to give more nations a greater voice doesn’t sound particularly appealing. He finally begins to address the real reasons there is extreme poverty around the world, and he’s to be commended for at least a cursory nod toward the Rule Of Law and the civil society in the Third World. One wishes he has spent the entire speech discussing it, as it is the only hope for the world’s oppressed and impoverished people.
In other words, Obama has put out four tenets of his foreign policy, and three of them are completely impossible to achieve. The fourth is so poorly defined as to make it impossible to judge its chances of success, though from the sound of it he might have a shot at accomplishing something if his domestic policy wasn’t so completely inept with respect to economic growth.
The changes that I have spoken about today will not be easy to make. And they will not be realized simply by leaders like us coming together in forums like this. For as in any assembly of members, real change can only come through the people we represent. That is why we must do the hard work to lay the groundwork for progress in our own capitals. That is where we will build the consensus to end conflicts and to harness technology for peaceful purposes; to change the way we use energy, and to promote growth that can be sustained and shared.
This would be nice rhetoric but for its complete emptiness. Obama has offered nothing to back his exhortation to “lay the groundwork for progress in our own capitals;” he has dead legislation on cap-and-trade policy, an unworkable, naive goal of nuclear disarmament, no new initiatives to offer on Israel and Palestine and a record of economic illiteracy and nine months of job losses and extreme deficits to show for his time in office.
I believe that the people of the world want this future for their children. And that is why we must champion those principles which ensure that governments reflect the will of the people. These principles cannot be afterthoughts – democracy and human rights are essential to achieving each of the goals that I have discussed today. Because governments of the people and by the people are more likely to act in the broader interests of their own people, rather than the narrow interest of those in power.
The Chinese, Indians, Russians, Brazilians and others clearly don’t share Obama’s view on this climate policy business; they’re not doing anything to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. So I don’t know where Obama gets the idea that his future is a popular one – his own constituents disagree with him on cap-and-trade. As for the halfhearted paean to democracy, it falls very flat this late in the speech; Obama needed to lead with this if he expected to speak to it with any credibility.
The test of our leadership will not be the degree to which we feed the fears and old hatreds of our people. True leadership will not be measured by the ability to muzzle dissent, or to intimidate and harass political opponents at home. The people of the world want change. They will not long tolerate those who are on the wrong side of history.
It almost sounds like he’s talking about freedom here. Almost. of course, given the revelation that Obama’s lickspittles in the Senate are attempting to muzzle health insurers from speaking out against his federal seizure of the medical sector it’s difficult to give him any credibility when he exhorts other governments not to muzzle dissent or harrass political opponents.
This Assembly’s Charter commits each of us, and I quote – “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women.” Among those rights is the freedom to speak your mind and worship as you please; the promise of equality of the races, and the opportunity for women and girls to pursue their own potential; the ability of citizens to have a say in how you are governed, and to have confidence in the administration of justice. For just as no nation should be forced to accept the tyranny of another nation, no individual should be forced to accept the tyranny of their own government.
FINALLY, he mentions freedom. FINALLY. It’s an afterthought. How embarrassing.
As an African-American, I will never forget that I would not be here today without the steady pursuit of a more perfect union in my country. That guides my belief that no matter how dark the day may seem, transformative change can be forged by those who choose the side of justice. And I pledge that America will always stand with those who stand up for their dignity and their rights – for the student who seeks to learn; the voter who demands to be heard; the innocent who longs to be free; and the oppressed who yearns to be equal.
All of this must mean a great deal to the Iranians being raped, mutilated and murdered in the horror-chambers of Iranian prisons while Obama ignores them and supplicates to their tormentors. But it’s nice to hear Obama at least offer these platitudes as he wraps things up.
Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside. Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect. Each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its people, and – in the past – America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy. But that does not weaken our commitment, it only reinforces it. There are basic principles that are universal; there are certain truths which are self evident – and the United States of America will never waiver in our efforts to stand up for the right of people everywhere to determine their own destiny.
America is STILL “selective in its promotion of democracy,” as Obama has proven with his inexplicable policy toward Honduras. The continued apology for his predecessors is just nauseating.
Sixty-five years ago, a weary Franklin Roosevelt spoke to the American people in his fourth and final inaugural address. After years of war, he sought to sum up the lessons that could be drawn from the terrible suffering and enormous sacrifice that had taken place. “We have learned,” he said, “to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.”
The United Nations was built by men and women like Roosevelt from every corner of the world – from Africa and Asia; form Europe to the Americas. These architects of international cooperation had an idealism that was anything but naïve – it was rooted in the hard-earned lessons of war, and the wisdom that nations could advance their interests by acting together instead of splitting apart.
Now it falls to us – for this institution will be what we make of it. The United Nations does extraordinary good around the world in feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and mending places that have been broken. But it also struggles to enforce its will, and to live up to the ideals of its founding.
I believe that those imperfections are not a reason to walk away from this institution – they are a calling to redouble our efforts. The United Nations can either be a place where we bicker about outdated grievances, or forge common ground; a place where we focus on what drives us apart, or what brings us together; a place where we indulge tyranny, or a source of moral authority. In short, the United Nations can be an institution that is disconnected from what matters in the lives of our citizens, or it can be indispensable in advancing the interests of the people we serve.
We have reached a pivotal moment. The United States stands ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation – one that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of all nations. With confidence in our cause, and with a commitment to our values, we call on all nations to join us in building the future that our people deserve. Thank you.
It’s a nice rhetorical flourish to finish an otherwise noxious speech. This last part should have been the opening of it instead of something to say after he has put the dictators to sleep.
But if nothing else, we now have four metrics by which to judge Obama’s foreign policy – nuclear disarmament, peace in the Holy Land, global warming policy and a leveling of the global economic playing field. I would argue that none of these initiatives are particularly good ideas in either theory or practice, particularly as they relate to American national interest, but if Obama pursues them he will at least have a record to be measured against.
His presidency now depends in large part on his performance of the tasks he has laid out in today’s speech. He has put himself in a highly unenviable position. Unwisely so.