President Obama stepped to the podium this morning at the United Nations General Assembly and declared, "This year has been a time of transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity." Yet Iran stands out, oppressing its people, defaulting on its international obligations and sending to New York a leader who is weaker than ever before. U.S. leadership, coalition pressure and the prospect of diplomacy have put Iran under unprecedented pressure, even as outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen reminded us yesterday that diplomacy and outreach between our countries was "something we all need to spend a lot of time on."
Today President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly, expressing his vision of America's role in the world and reflecting on changes in the international landscape since he last addressed the General Assembly. The president pointed to progress on terrorism; democracy movements in the Middle East and Africa; transitions in Iraq and Afghanistan; efforts to promtoe open government and human rights; and strengthened alliances aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. "[I]t has been a remarkable year," President Obama said. "Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way they will be."
President Obama prepares to address the United Nations General Assembly with solid public support for his national security policies. An approach that combines robust U.S. leadership with U.S. engagement at the UN and another international institutions is paying off - in progress fighting terrorism, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and supporting transitions away from dictatorship and toward democracy. The past year of transformation presents the U.S. with major new opportunities and challenges. Partnerships like those forged at the UN will be central to both promoting our interests and balancing international responsibilities with our needs at home.
When Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in New York next week to address the UN General Assembly, he will do so with little power at home and as one of the last remaining authoritarian figures in the region. International pressure continues to mount against Iran as questions about its nuclear program go unanswered and its internal crackdown persists. Iran is clearly feeling this pressure. In recent days, Iran has signaled that it may be open to discussing nuclear issues that it had previously refused to address and has launched an all-out "charm offensive" against additional pressure and isolation.
Yesterday, the sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly opened in New York, the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors convened for its second day, and reports out of Iran suggested modest yet significant progress on human rights and nuclear talks. Against this backdrop, the National Security Network and the Project on Middle East Democracy hosted a panel discussion of how the democracy movements sweeping the Arab world are interacting with regional dynamics to create new opportunities and challenges for the U.S. - and how this is playing out at the United Nations.
This week in New York at the United Nations General Assemblymeetings, President Obama demonstrated his commitment to both tomultilateralism and to a national security policy that advances Americaninterests through a "whole of government" approach. In both speeches and deed, he explained how theUnited States would use all aspects of American power to advance its interests,communicated the importance of burden-sharing with our allies, and expressedconfidence in the ability of multilateral institutions to be effective partnersin fostering both diplomatic goodwill and American policy objectives. These remarks reflected the work of theadministration over the past 20 months to integrate development and diplomacymore robustly into American national security policy. In particular, at the Millennium DevelopmentGoals summit in New York, the president proposed a new framework forsustainable security based in practical development efforts that are alignedwith America's long-term interests. Thisrobust activity contrasts sharply with the lack of ideas coming from the conservatives'"Pledge to America," which failed to offer any ideas on how to handle thesepressing challenges of development, diplomacy and defense in the 21st century.
The inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second presidential term earlier this monthhas not dissipated discontent with the regime or ended political turmoil. Political and religious leaders have organized behind the scenes and opposition leaders continue to make explosive allegations against the government. This coming month, the fractious regime will be pushed back into the international spotlight. A clogged September calendar will see Iran dominate the agenda of international meetings in Frankfurt, Vienna, Pittsburgh, and New York. Despite Iran’s political uncertainty, engagement remains the best way of forcing a decision from the regime – either move in a new direction offered by the Obama administration or face consequences from a united international community.
In his farewell address President Bush claimed many foreign policy successes, but his rhetoric belies the reality of his legacy. However, the President’s leadership in forging and funding a bi-partisan consensus emerged on the need for the U.S. to take action to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa is striking. It reveals the new approach that America must now deploy consistently as we turn the page on the Bush administration – an approach that seeks to integrate all elements of American power, economic, diplomatic, legal, cultural, and military. The confirmation hearings of the past week have teased out common strands, from State to Defense to the UN, of a new integrated approach toward the world that is strategic about our interests and consistent with our values.
A new task-force report from the U.S. Institute of Peace called “Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers” makes a strong statement challenging conventional wisdom: “preventing genocide is an achievable goal. The idea that genocide is somehow completely unpredictable and undeterrable is one of the biggest psychological justifications for doing nothing about it.”