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  • Reaction Roundup: Heritage Experts on Obama's UN Speech

    Earlier today, President Barack Obama addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. You can read the full transcript here.  Experts in foreign policy and international affairs at The Heritage Foundation watched the speech and had plenty of reaction.  Here are some highlights:

    On Reaction at U.N.:

    “The other U.N. member states have to be beside themselves with glee. President Obama gave them virtually everything they could ask for without demanding anything in return that was not already on the agenda – and which they are prepared to twist to their advantage. He did not even ask them to support more accountability, transparency, or efficiency in the U.N. , which will be leading action on the very complex and expensive tasks that he is proposing.

    The Obama administration probably thinks that its actions and this speech have purchased them the goodwill of U.N. member states, which  will translate into support for U.S. policies. They are setting themselves up for disappointment. The political nature of the U.N. is combative and tough. Most member states consider these concessions their due. They will pocket them and stand firm to defend their interests. Cooperation will be on their terms, on issues they wish to pursue. The naïveté of the speech was staggering.”

    Brett D. Schaefer, Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs, Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, and author of ConUNdrum: The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives

    Compared to Other Obama Speeches:

    “Was this Obama’s most naïve speech ever? It is a very strong candidate, but I think there is intense competition for that accolade. The president’s speeches in Cairo, Strasbourg and Prague would all vie for that title. Still, his address today will go down in history as one of the weakest major addresses by a U.S. president on foreign policy in a generation, by a leader who seems embarrassed, even ashamed, by the power and greatness of his own country.”

    Nile Gardiner, Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation

    On Afghanistan:

    “Obama’s statements on Afghanistan at the U.N. today — which failed to mention the need to defeat the Taliban insurgency — will likely be interpreted by our allies as a sign that he is beginning to waver in his commitment to finishing the job of stabilizing and securing Afghanistan and preventing its return to being a safe haven for international terrorists. This is highly unfortunate. Without American leadership on Afghanistan, the entire civilized world will remain hostage to international terrorists, backed by the Taliban leadership, intent on attacking innocents at the times and places of their own choosing.”

    Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, Heritage’s Asian Studies Center

    On the Middle East:

    “President Obama proclaimed, ‘ We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.’  But in the Middle East, his administration’s engagement policy has yielded very little of substance. The Israeli-Palestinian talks, which the administration has trumpeted as an urgent priority, remain in limbo. Obama’s meeting yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was little more than a tense photo opportunity that did little to clear the way for renewed peace negotiations.

    “Although Washington had hoped to announce the formal opening of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, this continues to be blocked by the refusal of Palestinians to agree to negotiations until Israel has halted the expansion of settlements in disputed territory. Never mind that many of the settlements would end up on the Israeli side when the borders are redrawn in a final agreement.

    Iran also has proven to be highly resistant to the Obama administration’s calls for engagement. Despite three rounds of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council and continued international pressure to halt its uranium-enrichment efforts, Iran has agreed to participate in talks on a wide variety of subjects — except for uranium enrichment, which it is accelerating. It will be interesting to see how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responds to Obama’s speech when he speaks later this afternoon. But the big question is what the Obama administration will do when engagement fails.”

    James Phillips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, Heritage’s Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Reaction Roundup: Heritage Experts on Obama's UN Speech

    1. Susan, Houston says:

      Our President gave a great speech, IF you viewed it throught the lense that he was acting out his ambition to become the President of the World, not just President of the United States. If a leader such as President Obama SEES himself as the "President"/future ruler of the whole world, in that way, he would have no particular alliance or allegiance to the people of the US over the people of any other nation. He seems to consider all people in every nation as his constituents (and future subjects). He chastises America as if America is but just one of his many naughty children. He stated this week that he wants a "New Economic World Order" — just take out the word "Economic", and, guess who wants to be the "One" in charge of this New World?

    2. John B. San Diego says:

      Greetings Heritage Foundation, I am among you as a layman of considerable recent studies of Obama and his agendas. I can say that President Obama has not disappointed; he as mentioned satisfied UN member Nations with many concessions and I agree member Nations see this as overdue and owed. A Compromising Strategy of Appeasement Mr. Obama is what I saw, and as always sharks in the water smell the blood, the leftwing extremists smell victory and the conservative constitutionalist is vindicated we all expected and received exactly what Pres. Obama delivered. The Emperor has no clothes! America is a Sovereign Nation Sir!

      As a point of my opinion the UN should clean out their desks and move to Brussels, where the US maintains an Ambassador. We "The Western Free Nations and Republics" set up a meeting of those nations to deal with global problems as we see fit. President Sarkosy of France was hinting at that very thing as I watched his speech to The UN 22 Sept, 2009, immediately following President Obama’s speech.

      May I please add my emphatic request that I and indeed America accept no proclamations, mandates, santions or enforced dictates or actions of The United Nations with regard to (1)energy usage or resulting emmisions,(2)gun bans and or related gun controls, (3) Trade agreements, restrictions or tariffs, (4) economic relief or sanctions! Those restrictions of the ability of The UN to affect America in many ways makes my point The UN is an ieffectual body we should be putting some distance between The US and The UN ; we are not benificial parties or should I say the benifits all go to The UN.

      Thank You for allowing me to comment.

    3. Pingback: Reaction Roundup: Heritage Experts on Obama’s UN Speech « Prayer, News & Action

    4. R.M. says:

      "So for those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions that we have taken in just nine months…"

      Really? I would first have chosen some of the highlights from the last 200+ years where America has been a positive force and inspiration to the world if I wanted to really bolster the "character and the cause of my nation". Suffice to say, the past nine months don't really rival all of the triumphs of liberty, philanthropy, bravery, ingenuity, and wisdom prior to this administration taking office. As a side note, the actions of the past nine months don't appear to be concrete. They virtually all seem more like blueprints to making something concrete.

    5. Janine, Indonesia says:

      When you believe that the people you are dealing with are "combative and tough", then that is what you will find them to be. When you believe that the people you are dealing with have the same goals you do and are willing to cooperate, that is what you will find. And this is not being naive. I am over 50 years old, American, have worked much of my career with the United Nations, the World Bank, and a number of other global bodies. You find what you seek in the world. You find what you are in the world.

    6. Raja Habib, Californ says:

      Sure, United States is a Powerful Country, and recently, it has demonstrated it's military strength and superiority in the past eight years. The question is, what good has that accomplished? I believe, It is time to engage in a new model of global engagement with a mission to win the hearts and minds of mankind, not through the example of our power but through the power of our example. President Obama's focus & effort on this front is praise worthy. It doesn't make US seem weak, on the contrary, it shows it's strength of the very values on which this country was founded and in upholding these values, it has served as a beacon of hope,justice & freedom.

    7. Braham Singh, Oakton says:

      reading the views of the Heritage Foundation's pundits, one can only smile at what prevails in one of these citadels of housing neo-conservative remains.

      I have seen reactionary behavior in my times, but these folks, wow.

      For the record, 100% of the ordinary people I have spoken to were delighted with his speech. I for one, love the man for sparing me from having to defend my country every trip I used to make abroad. Now, I travel with head held high proud to be an immigrant American. Thanks to my President.

    8. shirley trejo USA says:

      We do not have to worry about Israelies they have been around a long time. They have out lasted several civilizatins and peoples.

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