Just hours after the United States launched additional airstrikes against terrorist targets in Syria, President Barack Obama urged the world to “think globally and act cooperatively” to shape the course of this century.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday morning, Obama addressed the main issues currently affecting different parts of the globe — from terrorism, poverty, and climate change, to nuclear weapons, Ebola, and the fight for democracy. He issued a blunt warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the cost of aggression, and encouraged the Muslim world’s young people to stand for dignity.
The United States and five allied Arab nations first launched more than 50 strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on Monday, marking the first time American forces had carried out a military mission inside the war-torn country. ISIS, the central target of the strikes, has taken control of large areas of Syria and northern Iraq.
Here is a recap of the main points the president addressed:
IRAQ AND SYRIA
Obama called on the world, including Muslim communities, to forcefully reject the ideology of ISIS and al-Qaida, following ISIS’ terror against civilians and beheading of innocent people.
“No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”
“We will support Iraqis and Syrians fighting to reclaim their communities. We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL. We will train and equip forces fighting against these terrorists on the ground. We will work to cut off their financing, and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region. Already, over 40 nations have offered to join this coalition. Today, I ask the world to join in this effort. Those who have joined ISIL should leave the battlefield while they can. Those who continue to fight for a hateful cause will find they are increasingly alone. For we will not succumb to threats; and we will demonstrate that the future belongs to those who build – not those who destroy.”
Russia continues to challenge the post-world-war order by taking action against Ukraine. But, Obama said, Americans believe the larger countries should not bully the smaller nations.
“America and our allies will support the people of Ukraine as they develop their democracy and economy. We will reinforce our NATO allies, and uphold our commitment to collective defense. We will impose a cost on Russia for aggression, and counter falsehoods with the truth. We call upon others to join us on the right side of history – for while small gains can be won at the barrel of a gun, they will ultimately be turned back if enough voices support the freedom of nations and peoples to make their own decisions.”
In its commitment to stop the spread of weapons, the United States government is developing a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
“My message to Iran’s leaders and people is simple: Do not let this opportunity pass. We can reach a solution that meets your energy needs while assuring the world that your program is peaceful.”
ISRAEL AND PALESTINIANS
The United States also won’t abandon its pursuit of peace among Israelis and Palestinians, who Obama said might be disillusioned by the situation in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
“We cannot afford to turn away from this effort — not when rockets are fired at innocent Israelis, or the lives of so many Palestinian children are taken from us in Gaza. So long as I am president, we will stand up for the principle that Israelis, Palestinians, the region, and the world will be more just with two states living side by side, in peace and security.”
Despite efforts by U.S. servicemembers, doctors, and scientists to help contain the escalating outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the world needs a broader effort to end the spread of the deadly virus.
“It’s easy to see this as a distant problem – until it isn’t. That is why we will continue mobilizing other countries to join us in making concrete commitments to fight this outbreak, and enhance global health security for the long-term.”
POVERTY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The United States will continue with its commitment to eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 by providing people with the ability to feed themselves, power their economies, and care for their sick. Americans will also consistently pursue reductions in carbon emissions and increase investments in clean energy.
“If the world acts together, we can make sure that all of our children can enjoy lives of opportunity and dignity. … We will do our part, and help developing nations to do theirs. But we can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every major power. That’s how we can protect this planet for our children and grandchildren.”
Obama acknowledged the existence of racial tensions in the United States, citing the small city of Ferguson, Missouri, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer last month.
“I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within our own borders. This is true. … And like every country, we continually wrestle with how to reconcile the vast changes wrought by globalization and greater diversity with the traditions that we hold dear.”
“But we welcome the scrutiny of the world – because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems and make our union more perfect.”