I followed my old rule and read Obama’s speech rather than watch it. I suggest everyone should do the same. Reading Obama’s speeches are far more revealing than listening to them. You can find a transcript of the speech here.
I was immediately stuck by contradictions early on. In the opening paragraphs Obama says; “Now, 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” (yeah right) and then in the very next paragraph he tells the assembly that we must “embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect”. So which is it? Will Obama act in America’s best interest or will we only act mutually with the world?
Obama on nukes:
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.
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've said before and I will repeat, I am committed to diplomacy that opens a path to greater prosperity and more secure peace for both nations if they live up to their obligations.
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 does not belong to fear.
This is laughable, as Iran and North Korea seem to be able to move faster and faster to achieve their nuclear goals. His focus on disarmament with Russia seems like something that was better suited for the Reagan Era than anything that is going on in the world today. If achieving a nuclear free world is your goal why not first stop the two nations that are desperately seeking entry into the nuclear arms club, rather than put all your efforts on disarming the US and Russia? Counting on the world to come together to stop North Korea and Iran is naiveté at its highest. China and Russia have their own agenda for not taking action against these two.
Obama on the UN:
We've also re-engaged the United Nations. We have paid our bills. We have joined the Human Rights Council. (Applause.) We have signed the Convention of 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.
The fact that Qaddafi or Ahmadinejad can get an audience at the UN, should really bring to question why the United States is involved with the UN at all.
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 we 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 point figures -- point fingers and stoke divisions. Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. Anybody can do that. Responsibility and leadership in the 21st century demand more.
If Obama could only realize that so long as the UN treats crazy regimes legitimately, he will never get the cooperation he is looking for. What is needed is not more engagement with the UN, but a better UN!
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 divisions between nations of the South and the North make no sense in an interconnected world; nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War.
A plug for a global socialist order or the end of American exceptionalism?
Obama on Israel:
The time has come -- 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. And 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. (Applause.)
Israel meet Obama’s bus, Obama’s bus meet Israel. It is hard to see how Israel will continue to exist if there is a contiguous Palestinian state. I think Israel is being herded into a lose-lose situation. Clearly Obama wants to sit back and wait for Israel to strike Iran. Once they do that, I have little doubt that Obama will come down on the side of condemning Israel for their actions. Israel is clearly on their own for the next 3 years.
Obama on Climate Change:
The danger posed by climate change cannot be denied. 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 -- why we failed to pass on an environment that was worthy of our inheritance.
I am amazed that this bit of junk science has made its way all the way around the world. It is quite dismaying to see an American President buy into it.
And those wealthy nations that did so much damage to 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 have already wrought and help them travel a path of clean development simply will not work.
Bingo! More global socialism! That means we have to pay poorer nations for the junk science of global warming!
What I found interesting is that Obama never addressed human rights abuses in a room jammed pack full of human rights abusers. It is interesting to note that Sarah Palin pinged China for these while standing on Chinese soil, yet Obama on his own nation’s soil, with Qaddafi and Ahmadinejad speaking the same day, could not utter a word on the issue.
This speech, like Obama's past world speeches, indicates to me that Obama thinks that if he just checks off a few items from the world’s wish list, that the world will all of a sudden cooperate with American goals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anti-Americanism is reflexive in the UN, it is independent of whether the president is right or left. Many of these nations will simply find new gripes for reasons not to cooperate with America so that they are free to pursue their own agendas.
Via: The New York Times