President Obama slammed reliance on “bellicose words and shows of military force” in a United Nations General Assembly speech that pledged more U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping forces.
His address ambled into advocacy for peaceful means of confronting evils in the world, advocacy for democratic governments while saying there are “no easy answers” to violent dictatorships, and giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a pass by referring to the invasion of Ukraine as “Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”
“Obama’s target audience at UNGA — himself,” tweeted one Syrian activist.
Obama noted that “we see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.”
“We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to this institution’s mission. Information is strictly controlled, the space for civil society restricted. We are told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder, that is the only way to step out terrorism, or prevent foreign meddling. In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs on innocent children, because alternative is surely worse,” he said.
Yet he lauded his lucrative agreements with theocratic Iran and communist Cuba as successes. The P5+1 deal with Iran, particularly, “is the strength of the international system when it works the way it should.”
“That same fidelity to international order guides our responses to other challenges around the world,” he said.
As president, Obama argued, “I am mindful of the dangers that we face. They cross my desk every morning. I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies unilaterally and by force where necessary. But I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.”
“We cannot look backwards. We live in an integrated world, one in which we all have a stake in each other’s success. We cannot turn back those forces of integration.”
Obama told the General Assembly “we should celebrate the fact that, later today, the United State will join with more than 50 countries to enlist new capabilities, infantry, intelligence, helicopters, hospitals and tens of thousands of troops to strengthen United Nations peacekeeping.”
“These new capabilities can prevent mass killing and ensure that peace agreements are more than words on paper,” he claimed. “But we have to do it together. Together we must strengthen our collective capacity where order has broken down and to support those who seek a just and lasting peace.”
“Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria,” he added of the conflict that has dragged on for four and a half years and killed more than 300,000. “When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs. It breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all.”
“Lasting stability can only take hold when the people of Syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully. The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” he said, citing Assad’s biggest arms suppliers and most powerful backers. “We must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the prewar status quo.”
The president stated that the “most advanced democracies” still see “greater polarization, more frequent gridlock, movements on the far right, and sometimes, the left.”
“I understand democracy is frustrating. Democracy in the United States is certainly imperfect,” Obama said. “At times, it can be dysfunctional, but democracy, the constant struggle to extend rights to more of our people, to give more people a voice, is what allowed us to become the most powerful nation in the world.”
He gave only slight mentions in his speech to Ebola, poverty, climate change, and gay rights.
“History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires, who believed that might always makes right and that won’t continue to be the case, you can count on that,” Obama concluded. “But we are called upon to offer a different type of leadership. Leadership strong enough to recognize the nations share common interests, and people share a common humanity. And yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal. That’s what those who shaped the United Nations 70 years ago understood.”
— RT (@RT_com) September 28, 2015