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."
Nuclear proliferation presents a grave threat to American and global security. Unsecured stockpiles of weapons and materials are vulnerable to terrorists who can steal or buy a weapon on the black market and use it on a civilian population.
After more than six years of strategic drift and lack of attention, the United States finally has a focused and comprehensive strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan. As President Obama explained today, “We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”
Last night President Obama made the case for his budget, which includes important action on health care, energy and climate, and education. Taking action on these issues is vital to maintaining America’s position as a global power. Some have argued that in the midst of recession now is not the time to advance these issues. This has it backward.
Last week the next steps in the Obama Administration’s comprehensive approach to Iran were on display, with the President’s video message saying that the U.S. is ready to begin diplomatic engagement. This message follows on a letter sent by President Obama to Iran after initially coming to office and further confirms the Administration’s readiness to engage in diplomatic negotiations. This is a dramatic departure from the approach of the Bush administration and represents a renewed recognition of the importance of diplomacy as a foreign policy tool.
President Obama’s plan to end the war keeps the promise that he made throughout the campaign to withdraw American combat forces, redefine the mission to focus on training and counterterrorism, and send a clear message to the Iraqis and the world that America’s troop presence in Iraq is coming to an end.