In an address to the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama linked the challenges of aggression in Europe, terrorist brutality in Syria and Iraq, and an Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the international system’s failure to keep pace with an interconnected world.
In his September 24 remarks, the president asserted that a concerted and collective global effort can shape the future for the better. “We can renew the international system that has enabled so much progress, or we can allow ourselves to be pulled back by an undertow of instability,” he said. Obama told the gathered world leaders that the U.S. choice was clear — “We choose hope over fear.”
The president acknowledged a range of challenges and described U.S. efforts on a number of key issues, including:
- Deployment of doctors and medical scientists, supported by the U.S. military, to help contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and to find new treatments;
- Pursuit of ambitious reductions in carbon emissions to combat global climate change;
- Commitment to an economic development agenda that eradicates extreme poverty by 2030.
Obama described Russia’s actions in Ukraine as a challenge to the post-World War II order and linked them to the central question of the global age – whether nations will solve problems together, or descend into the destructive rivalries of the past.
Regarding the Middle East, the president said the terrorist group known as ISIL “must be degraded and ultimately destroyed,” stressing that “No god condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions.”
Directly addressing young people across the Muslim world, the president said, “You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder. Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition, not defending it.”
“Around the world, young people are moving forward, hungry for a better world,” Obama told world leaders.
“The people of the world look to us here, to be as decent, as dignified, and as courageous as they are trying to be in their daily lives,” the president added.