Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mr Obama Goes to The UN.

After the years of George W Bush, where the UN were told that their duty was to give him what he wanted or prove their own irrelevance, Obama's appearance produced more rounds of applause than I think I have ever heard any leader earn before.

But this wasn't simply Obama-mania, the guy actually turned up and spoke the language of international co-operation, even going as far as to make clear that he understood that the NNPT demanded that nations with nuclear weapons disarmed, not simply that non-nuclear nations gave up their pursuit of them.

America intends to 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.


Those nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences. Let me be clear, 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.

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.

So, he made it very clear that the US would pursue a way to reduce it's own nuclear arsenal, whilst asking nations such as Iran and North Korea to forego a nuclear weapon, but not the right to nuclear energy. He couldn't have put it better. He was absolutely on the money.

But he began by making, I thought, an even better point. He reminded the world that one couldn't have it both ways.
But make no mistake: This cannot solely be 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. And now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.
Having argued for years against American unilateralism, Obama's offer demands that the rest of the world rise to the challenge he is giving them, that the rest of the world puts it's money where it's mouth is.

Again, he's being utterly fair and he's calling out those who think knocking the US is some cheap game which lets them off the hook from their own responsibilities. Obama is saying, "I hear you. I'm listening. What do you want to do about this?"

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, 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.

He told them that he had ordered an end to torture. He promised an end to the Iraq war. He promised to end the war in Sudan. And then he turned to the Israel/Palestine dispute; the dispute where the UN and the US have most often been at loggerheads.

I will also continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world. We will continue to work on that issue. 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 on 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.

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.

After the Bush years, what he was saying rung around the hall like music to their ears. And, once again, he received rounds of applause that are so rare in such a setting. And I am sure that Mr Netanyahu will have noticed that one of Obama's loudest rounds of applause was given when he stated that he did not accept the legitimacy of Israel's settlements.

Here, Obama was taking his argument to the world chamber, and it was abundantly clear that a majority of nations favour Obama's stance as opposed to that of Netanyahu.

Hell, he even got the United Nations to applaud when he attacked them for their past stances:
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 — and nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security.

(Applause. This surprised and pleased me, for they were actually clapping as he chastised them.)
Then he turned to climate change.
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.
It is fair to say that he could not have made it any clearer that the Bush years are over. But, rather than allowing the world simply to celebrate that, Obama is throwing down a gauntlet. He is asking the rest of the world to step up to the plate. He agrees that the US should not be demanding that the rest of the world follow it's dictate, so he is asking the rest of the world to show some initiative. He has, in effect, taken away all of their excuses.

Obama has shown that he is committed to the Charter of the United Nations.

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. And so, 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 so richly deserve.

Now it's up to others to step up to the plate.

As far as I am concerned he couldn't have said it better than he did.

Click title for transcript.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Karim - Creating Power