This morning President Obama gave his final speech before the UN General Assembly. The President spoke about some of his administration’s biggest foreign policy initiatives including:
- The importance of the Paris climate accord
- The nuclear deal with Iran
- Fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa
- The multisided war in Syria
The President spoke a day after the cease-fire brokered by the US and Russia collapsed, partly because of an accidental strike by a US led coalition aircraft. On Monday, an aid convoy in Syria was attacked from the air. Despite this, Obama defended elements of his administration’s approach to the war in Syria. The same points were made by the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power who stated that Obama’s administration is pursuing the dual motives of “targeting terrorists and making sure that the starving and surrendering techniques end.” Obama’s overall approach to foreign policy has been characterized by his high regard for diplomacy.
President Obama made the following points during his speech:
- “The paradox that defines our world today” – The world is more prosperous and less violent than at the end of the Cold War yet it is more uncertain and filled with strife.
- “A course correction” – In order to move forward “we do have to acknowledge that the existing path to global integration requires a course-correction.” Gaps have been created between rich and poor. Those supporting globalization have ignored inequality.
- “I believe in a liberal political order” – Liberal democracy is worth fighting for despite the fact that making institutions accountable is difficult. Top-down leadership will ultimately lead to instability and war. Greater engagement is needed, not less. Trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership help lift people out of poverty, but rich countries need to do more to help the poor around the world.
- “No ultimate military victory to be won” in Syria – Tolerance must be embraced because demonizing other religious sects undermines our power as an international community. In a place like Syria, diplomacy is a key tool for peace.
- “We must pursue a world without nuclear weapons” – The nuclear agreement with Iran is part of a larger fight to rid the world of nuclear weapons and nuclear tests by North Korea are worrisome. Obama feels we have been a force for good.
- “Futures are bound with the fates of other human beings” – The President closed with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: people around the world should strive to be “co-workers with God” in the pursuit of peace and prosperity. He feels the next generation is “more educated and more tolerant and more inclusive and more diverse than our generation. They are more empathetic and compassionate toward their fellow human beings.” Obama stated that the UN should reflect the truth that doing what is “best for all people” is the best way to ensure a better future for the people of any one country.
Source: Richard Drew, AP