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.
This week, events in the Middle East rival headlines emerging from the UN General Assembly in New York: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's forces have opened fire on protestors, killing more than 50 in the last two days. Syria has seen opposition forces begin to abandon peaceful protest in favor of armed struggle. Libya's transitional government is working to form civilian structures - even as military operations to root out the remaining elements of the Qaddafi government continue. In New York, these developments are reflected in a new group of more representative leaders and the relative eclipse of autocrats like Iran's Ahmadinejad - as well as the UN debate on Palestinian statehood. Together, opportunities and challenges demand that Washington re-evaluate long-held certainties and confront tough changes to regional dynamics.
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.
As Americans consider the legacy of 9/11 and ponder how to balance meeting global challenges with rebuilding strength at home, tonight conservative candidates for president will debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Fixing problems at home, starting with the economy and jobs, will rightly command much of the debate. But the candidates' visions for how America should conduct itself in the world also merit exploration. The gap between positions many candidates have already taken and the recommendations of non-partisan military and national security experts deserves focus as Americans look for pragmatic, non-ideological ways forward in a challenging time.