Obama at UN

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President Obama strained in Monday's United Nations speech to explain the rationale behind U.S. foreign policy.

It was a curious and contradictory spectacle as the president who brought home the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan in the same breath defended his administration's indefensible actions in Libya, drone warfare, and NSA spying on citizen and ally alike.

Had not regime change occurred in Libya under the guise of humanitarian intervention? Wasn't the visit of Brazil's president postponed in outrage over NSA spying? Have there not been untold civilian causalities from drone attacks?

And yet the president sought to cast away charges of imperialism and empire with rhetorical "we're-the-good guy" asides even as he revealed one of the underlying bases of U.S. foreign policy: "The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region," asserted the president. "We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world."

A more blatant exposition of U.S. imperialist oil interests is hard to find.

Note must be taken of the president's positive response to overtures from Iran and highlighting the need for a solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict with a two-state solution.

Regarding the crime of nerve gas in Syria, however, the president while pledging continuing diplomacy maintained the now usual military bluster.

For lasting peace to be achieved the U.S. ship of state must be turned around. A first step should be away from an unconditional defense of American exceptionalism. Yes there are many exceptional things about the U.S. including this president's election, a point noted by the Nobel Committee, which awarded the then new incumbent its Peace Prize.

Our exceptionalness however hardly stands alone.

Is not Cuba also exceptional? Its contribution to raising the standard of health care for not only her citizens but also the world is second to none.

What about South Africa? This newly free country is almost alone in voluntarily dismantling its nuclear stockpile in a vastly underrated contribution to world civilization.

We could go on: Each country contributes an exceptional thread to the fabric of humanity. It's time for the U.S. to blend in, Mr. President, not stand out and alone.

Photo: President Barack Obama speaks during his address to the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 24. (Andrew Burton/AP)

 

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  • This article is very helpful. It offers a concise critique of Obama's speech and of US foreign policy at this moment. It also lays out what the American people will have to demand from our government and the US foreign policy establishment if we are really going to help the nations of the planet, including our own, move towards a secure and peaceful future.

    Posted by Ben Sears, 10/01/2013 10:05am (9 months ago)

  • again, i'm not surprised; i'm thoroughly disgusted. americans are so spoiled and will never give up their petroleum willingly. i remember jimmy carter dropping the speed limit to reduce consumption as well as govt intervention for fuel efficient cars. i remember gassing up my car, and fuel had jumped up from .55 to .65. i said we should go back to horse and buggy because it was going from bad to worse. i had no idea how prophetic i'd been. shame on you, obama, you tom! imperialism is imperialism, and it is unacceptable.

    Posted by Grace Ballinger, 09/29/2013 1:28pm (9 months ago)

  • Thank you very much for this. The influence of the "American exceptionalism" and "humanitarian interventionism" crowd is riding high in official US circles right now. It is bad enough that these things are said in speeches to the US public, but that our president stands up in front of an audience of the leaders of almost all the countries in the world and says it is quite remarkable.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 09/27/2013 4:46pm (10 months ago)

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