Obama delivered his second speech at the United Nations Thursday morning, giving
a full-throated defense of his first 20 months in office and a sober assessment
of the challenges that lie ahead.
pled for the world to aggressively support the U.S.-led direct peace
negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Specifically,
he called on Arab nations to demonstrate their support through changes in policy
that could help repair relations between Israel and its neighbors.
in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges
must now be supported by deeds," Obama said. "Those who have signed on to the
Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking
tangible steps toward the normalization that it promises Israel. Those who
speak out for Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority
politically and financially, and - in so doing - help the Palestinians build
the institutions of their state. And those who long to see an independent
Palestine rise must stop trying to tear Israel down."
also announced that he will add Indonesia, a country to which he has twice cancelled
visits, to his Asia trip this November, which will also include stops in India,
South Korea, and Japan. Obama meets with leaders from all 10 ASEAN member
are some key excerpts:
the U.S. economy:
have had no greater focus as President than rescuing our economy from potential
catastrophe. And in an age when prosperity is shared, we could not do this
alone. So America has joined with nations around the world to spur growth, and
the renewed demand that could restart job creation. We are reforming our system
of global finance, beginning with Wall Street reform at home, so that a crisis
like this never happens again. And we made the G-20 the focal point for
international coordination, because in a world where prosperity is more
diffuse, we must broaden our circle of cooperation to include emerging
is much to show for our efforts, even as there is much more work to be done.
The global economy has been pulled back from the brink of a depression, and is
growing once more. We have resisted protectionism, and are exploring ways to
expand trade and commerce among nations. But we cannot - and will not - rest
until these seeds of progress grow into a broader prosperity, for all
Americans, and for people around the globe.
the war against Islamic extremists:
drawing down in Iraq, we have refocused on defeating al Qaeda and denying its
affiliates a safe-haven. In Afghanistan, the United States and our allies are
pursuing a strategy to break the Taliban's momentum and build the capacity of
Afghanistan's government and Security Forces, so that a transition to Afghan
responsibility can begin next July. And from South Asia to the Horn of Africa,
we are moving toward a more targeted approach- one that strengthens our
partners, and dismantles terrorist networks without deploying large American
part of our efforts on non-proliferation, I offered the Islamic Republic of
Iran an extended hand last year, and underscored that it has both rights and
responsibilities as a member of the international community. I also said - in
this hall - that Iran must be held accountable if it failed to meet those
responsibilities. That is what we have done. Iran is the only party to the NPT that
cannot demonstrate the peaceful intentions of its nuclear program, and those
actions have consequences. Through UN Security Council Resolution 1929, we made
it clear that international law is not an empty promise.
let me be clear once more: the United States and the international community
seek a resolution to our differences with Iran, and the door remains open to
diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it. But the Iranian government
must demonstrate a clear and credible commitment, and confirm to the world the
peaceful intent of its nuclear program.
the Middle East peace process:
many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that Israelis and
Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to
forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the
process, with bitter words and with bombs. Some say that the gaps between the
parties are too big; the potential for talks to break down is too great; and
that after decades of failure, peace is simply not possible.
consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will
never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state. Israelis will
never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable
neighbors who are committed to co-existence. The hard realities of demography
will take hold. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of
our differences, instead of our common humanity.
refuse to accept that future. We all have a choice to make. And each of us must
choose the path of peace. That responsibility begins with the parties
themselves, who must answer the call of history.
human rights and democracy:
times of economic unease, there can also be an anxiety about human rights.
Today, as in past times of economic downturn, some put human rights aside for
the promise of short term stability, or the false notion that economic growth
can come at the expense of freedom. We see leaders abolishing term limits,
crackdowns on civil society, and corruption smothering entrepreneurship and
good governance. We see democratic reforms deferred indefinitely.
I said last year, each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its
people. Yet experience shows us that history is on the side of liberty - that
the strongest foundation for human progress lies in open economies, open
societies, and open governments. To put it simply: democracy, more than any
other form of government, delivers for our citizens. And that truth will only
grow stronger in a world where the borders between nations are blurred.
time for every member state to open its elections to international monitors,
and to increase the UN Democracy Fund. It's time to reinvigorate UN
peacekeeping, so that missions have the resources necessary to succeed, and so
atrocities like sexual violence are prevented and justice is enforced - because
neither dignity nor democracy can thrive without basic security. And it's time
to make this institution more accountable as well, because the challenges of a
new century demand new ways of serving our common interests.
world that America seeks is not one that we can build on our own. For human
rights to reach those who suffer the boot of oppression, we need your voices to
speak out. In particular, I appeal to those nations who emerged from tyranny
and inspired the world in the second half of the last century - from South
Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to South America. Do not stand idly
by when dissidents everywhere are imprisoned and protesters are beaten. Because
part of the price of our own freedom is standing up for the freedom of others.