Aside from stirring but hollow rhetoric about democracy and peoples’s “freedom to determine their destiny,” President Obama’s speech to the United Nations fell flat. It failed to outline a single significant initiative. He presented no vision of what he intends in foreign affairs. He didn’t mention China (or Asia for that matter, where the United States is engaging in a vast military expansion). Amazingly, he didn’t mention Russia at all, even to seek its explicit cooperation in resolving the wars and crises in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.
And then, as the following passages reveal, he told some whoppers:
We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspiration of men and women who took to the streets. We insisted on change in Egypt because our support for democracy ultimately put us on the side of the people. We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen because the interests of the people were no longer being served by a corrupt status quo.
Not surprisingly, Obama forgot to mention Bahrain, where his support for democracy and political change suddenly disappeared.
We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition and with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant.
But Obama wildly exaggerated the threat to civilians in Benghazi, Libya, where the revolt was headquartered, when he ordered a NATO-led bombing campaign against Libya. The attack on Libya wasn’t about protecting civilians. It was about regime change against a leader whom the United States had long opposed and vilified.
And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop and a new dawn can begin.
Obama demanded that Assad resign very early in the revolt, when it was still mostly a case of peaceful demonstrations being attacked by Assad’s security forces—not unlike the case of Iran in 2009, when Obama decided to avoid getting involved. According to The Washington Post, the administration believes it erred in Iran, then—perhaps because the Mitt Romney campaign is attacking the White House for not intervening to topple the government of Iran back then. The revolt in Syria would most likely not have reached civil-war proportions if the United States had stayed neutral.
Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Fact is, a nuclear-armed Iran is precisely a challenge that can be contained. The administration has discussed exactly that, i.e., containment. But under pressure from Romney, and from Israel, in an election year, suddenly containment is no longer an option. Obama deserves credit for saying that he wants to resolve the problems with Iran via diplomacy, but he fatally undermines that approach by saying, as he did: “America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited.” It’s pretty much unlimited, since Iran hasn’t yet made a move toward developing nuclear weapons.
Check out more of Robert Dreyfuss’s coverage of the current UN General Assembly meeting.