Real Change Is Possible

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 23, 2009
President Obama Addresses 64th UNGA in New York

Today, President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly. The President said:"In this hall, we come from many places, but we share a common future. No longer do we have the luxury of indulging our differences to the exclusion of the work that we must do together. I have carried this message from London to Ankara; from Port of Spain to Moscow; from Accra to Cairo; and it is what I will speak about today -- because the time has come for the world to move in a new direction. We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.

We know the future will be forged by deeds and not simply words. Speeches alone will not solve our problems -- it will take persistent action. For those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.

On my first day in office, I prohibited -- without exception or equivocation -- the use of torture by the United States of America. (Applause.) I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and we are doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law. Every nation must know: America will live its values, and we will lead by example.

We have set a clear and focused goal: to work with all members of this body to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies -- a network that has killed thousands of people of many faiths and nations, and that plotted to blow up this very building. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, we and many nations here are helping these governments develop the capacity to take the lead in this effort, while working to advance opportunity and security for their people.

In Iraq, we are responsibly ending a war. We have removed American combat brigades from Iraqi cities, and set a deadline of next August to remove all our combat brigades from Iraqi territory. And I have made clear that we will help Iraqis transition to full responsibility for their future, and keep our commitment to remove all American troops by the end of 2011.

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.

Upon taking office, I appointed a Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, and America has worked steadily and aggressively to advance the cause of two states -- Israel and Palestine -- in which peace and security take root, and the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians are respected.

To confront climate change, we have invested $80 billion in clean energy. We have substantially increased our fuel-efficiency standards. We have provided new incentives for conservation, launched an energy partnership across the Americas, and moved from a bystander to a leader in international climate negotiations.

To overcome an economic crisis that touches every corner of the world, we worked with the G20 nations to forge a coordinated international response of over $2 trillion in stimulus to bring the global economy back from the brink. We mobilized resources that helped prevent the crisis from spreading further to developing countries. And we joined with others to launch a $20 billion global food security initiative that will lend a hand to those who need it most, and help them build their own capacity.

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.

This is what we have already done. But this is just a beginning. Some of our actions have yielded progress. Some have laid the groundwork for progress in the future. 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."

Read the President's full remarks here.

Comments

Comments

Ron
|
New York, USA
September 23, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

President Obama Hits the Global Mark......

In form, content, and in tone, the President hit the Global Mark today at the UNGA. His call for concerted and cooperative effort, without blame and finger-pointing, sets the stage for real progress on a variety of issues. I felt that he was channeling JFK as he spoke in simple and compelling terms. He is like a good rain after a long drought.

Joel
|
New Mexico, USA
September 24, 2009

Joel in New Mexico writes:

President Obama is certainly correct in saying that "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."

And they aren't. By its inept, waffling response to the Honduras crisis, the U.S. State Department has turned Brazil and Venezuela into hemisphere-wide heroes for their rather modest actions in support of the rule of law.

I wouldn't want to be a U.S. diplomat now, knowing that the U.S. doesn't object to having water, electricity, and food to an embassy cut off; that it's cool with having tear gas grenades tossed into an embassy compound; that helicopters buzzing an embassy and the use of amplified sound as a weapon against an embassy is fine--and, most outrageously, that the U.S. will not respond if an embassy is threatened with assault by troops... what will the State Department say when the same is done to one of our embassies?

All the U.S. had to do was to state, clearly, that these things are all violations of international law, and that threats and force against any embassy are an assault on the very integrity of the world system of diplomacy. All the U.S. had to do was send one of its junior officials to the Brazilian embassy for an extended visit.

Just those two acts could have protected our nation's reputation for courage, fairness, and commitment to the rule of law, and its dignity. Instead, we are treated to hypocrisy and pathetic weakness in the face of state-sponsored terror.

Ron
|
New York, USA
September 24, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Real Change.....

The election of Ambassador Irina Bokova of Bulgaria to UNESCO,as Secretary General, signals real change for the former Communist Bloc countries. Bulgaria has hungered for a respected place in the democratic world, and Ms. Bokova's election to the world's premier cultural and educational organization, opens a door for inclusion and recognition for millions who have been denied the promise of freedom and dignity.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 24, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Ron in New York,

Dude, it's a pleasure to be able to actually agree with you for a change on something...(chuckle).

Though I'm not sure whether the President was "channeling JFK", or he and his speech writers were simply drawing ideas from the pages of Dipnote...

You never know who reads these things we write....(chuckle).

On the other hand, now you have me wondering in a kind of bemused sort of way as to who the heck I was "channeling" in my temporary state of boredom, trying to amuse myself with a little speculative prognostication and create some hope for the future, when for all intents and purposes, the President has exceeded my modest expectations, and tossed in the kitchen sink for good measure.

If you ask me, I think the Pres. was simply channeling the American public, and saying for all of us to the rest of the world, what needed to be said.

And that's just part of his job.

regards,

EJ

---
Eric in New Mexico writes:

The UN, like any democratic experiment, must incorperate control data to determine the reliability of the outcome.

I am looking forward to Pres. Obama's "Get a Grip" speech before the UNGA...( at least I hope it incorperates the phrase in mindful context to the founding rational for the UN; that nations to resolve dispute must engage in diplomacy to avert war ,...or the UN simply becomes a homeless shelter for diplomatic refugees.)

In general, I think humanity got off on the wrong foot to begin the 21st century....let the "spoilers" set the agenda, as it were....it's time folks get organized and fully committed around common cause...and there's plenty of common threats to go around...

There's a common thread that will see us to the next century or prep the stage for extinction, and that's to stand together or fail to separately.

Nations are inclined to think in terms of national interests...and the attachments of investments in agendas.

It's hard to get folks to do something on spec. , with no gurantees of success.

Aye, but survive we must, thus the great experiment to see if folks can get a grip...and stand together.

And if so, it's just possible that ethical infants will have their diapers changed in the process.

Things are getting kind of ripe, and humanity doesn't have a nanny to bring a change of nappies to the table.

We have to do this ourselves.

Posted on Sun Sep 20, 2009 (see question of the week)
---

Don
|
Georgia, USA
September 24, 2009

Don in Georgia writes:

What a bunch of garbage. Obama is a total embarrassment. He has no understanding of history (or no knowledge of American history). He acts as if we have never done anyting good in our entire history untill he was anointed. I guess WW1 and WW2 count for nothing. So much for the greatest generation. Oh sorry, I forgot. Only "the One" is great.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 24, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joel in New Mexico -- One New Mexican to another Joel, always,... always go directly to the original source and check your facts before pointing fingers.

---

State Dept Briefing -Sept. 23

(excerpt)

QUESTION: Thanks, Ian. A quick question about the secret return of President Zelaya to Honduras. I mean, it was described by Hugo Chavez as courageous. Do you feel that it is helpful, itãs a good thing to have him come back in that way?

MR. KELLY: Well, in foreign policy, we deal with the facts that we have, and the fact that we have is that heãs in Honduras. We do have our concerns about the possible impact it may have on the situation on the ground, especially with the possibilities for clashes. And for this reason, weãve called on both sides to exercise restraint with this new situation.

But also, since we are dealing with this fact, youãve heard Secretary Clinton a couple of days ago say, letãs take this opportunity to open up channels of communication. So, thatãs basically ã I mean, our efforts are in those two tracks: take advantage of this opportunity for dialogue, but at the same time, urge restraint on both sides.

QUESTION: Is there any talk of maybe helping him leave if things get really violent, or --

MR. KELLY: No, weãre not at that point. President Zelaya is still in the Embassy, in the Brazilian Embassy. It looks like things have calmed down there. Water and power have been restored. Food and water are being delivered to the Embassy. And also, the staff has been allowed to depart under police ã with police coordination. And weãre happy that we were able to play a helpful, facilitative role in helping restore these services and lower the tension around the compound.

QUESTION: What exactly was the U.S. role?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think that we helped as to reinforce the message that the ã not Geneva ã Vienna Convention had to be respected, the inviolability of the Brazilian Embassy had to be respected. We helped get some of the personnel out. We provided some vehicles. But mostly, it was a liaison role to help restore the power and water, and also get personnel out and back to their homes.

QUESTION: And were they diplomatic vehicles? How many people were traveling in them?

MR. KELLY: Iãm not sure of the exact details of what kind of vehicles they were, but I know that we played a role in helping get people to safety.

--END--

If you had reviewed the transcript of the Sept 22 Briefing , or watched the video;

http://www.state.gov/video/

I don't think you'd be thinking what you do, or have a problem with how things were being dealt with.

I would say as a cautionary note to folks at State that I have previously described our policy as in danger of""backing a "reckless" horse with blinders on.""

At this time I should be so bold as to ask a senior offical to accept this public invitation to tell me I'm wrong in that assesment, given Zelaya's recent actions.

I mean, I'm just a citizen trying to dicern the truth here, and lest mine eyes decieve me, he's traded in his pajamas for a sad clown suit.

He's written his own ticket to political hell, and misery loves company...

I don't think anyone can afford to entertain that.

Ron
|
New York, USA
September 24, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

A Positive Self-fulfilling Prophecy......

President Obama is setting a positive tone and atmosphere at UNGA and as Chair of Security Council on Nuclear Issues. It is far better to take the high road; calling for multilateral cooperation, than the unilateral "us-against-them" position of the prior administration. The negative leaders of the world will fall down by themselves...they are much more isolated and apparent now, as evidenced by their wacky speeches to an empty hall. As far as DIPNOTE goes, keep it up, and moderate any tea-bagging as we go forward.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 24, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Don in Georgia,

A basic question he put to folks in his speech ( in so many words) was whether this generation would measure up to the generation that fought WW2 and founded the UN.

So I'm not sure what you're complaining about.

.

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