“There is a pervasive unease in the world,” President Obama said as he stood before the United Nations General Assembly today. “A sense that the very forces that have brought us together have created new dangers and made it difficult for any single nation to insulate itself from global forces.”
#1: A deadly Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa, #2: Russian aggression in Ukraine, and #3: the group of medieval murdering terrorists known as ISIL, which, left unchecked, could pose a growing threat beyond the region — including our homeland.
At the heart of that test – at the root of the world’s challenges — are two defining questions: Can the U.N. renew the purpose of its founding, and will the international community come together to reject the cancer of violent extremism?
“We Gain More from Cooperation than Conquest”
After the people of Ukraine mobilized popular protests and calls for reform, their corrupt president fled. Against the will of the government in Kyiv, Crimea was annexed. Russia poured arms into eastern Ukraine, fueling violent separatists and a conflict that has killed thousands. When a civilian airliner was shot down from areas that these proxies controlled, they refused to allow access to the crash for days. When Ukraine started to reassert control over its territory, Russia gave up the pretense of merely supporting the separatists, and moved troops across the border.
This is a vision of the world in which might makes right — a world in which one nation’s borders can be redrawn by another, and civilized people are not allowed to recover the remains of their loved ones because of the truth that might be revealed. America stands for something different. We believe that right makes might — that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones, and that people should be able to choose their own future.
“America Will Not Give Up on the Pursuit of Peace”
The President provided a clear sense of the priorities for American leadership — from supporting Ukraine, to testing whether a nuclear deal is possible with Iran, to combating climate change and disease, to combating violent extremism.
“This is what America is prepared to do — taking action against immediate threats, while pursuing a world in which the need for such action is diminished,” he said.
“Peace is not merely the absence of war, but the presence of a better life™.”
He noted, however, that our country has also failed to live up to our ideals. Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed and a community was divided — brought America’s racial and ethnic tensions before the world:
We welcome the scrutiny of the world — because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems, to make our union more perfect, to bridge the divides that existed at the founding of this nation. America is not the same as it was 100 years ago, or 50 years ago, or even a decade ago.
Because we fight for our ideals, and we are willing to criticize ourselves when we fall short.
Because we hold our leaders accountable, and insist on a free press and independent judiciary.
Because we address our differences in the open space of democracy — with respect for the rule of law; with a place for people of every race and every religion; and with an unyielding belief in the ability of individual men and women to change their communities and their circumstances and their countries for the better.
After nearly six years as President, I believe that this promise can help light the world.
Read my entire address here and watch me dazzle the world with Imperial Light and Love. And God Bless America!