The President spoke to a contentious body of politicians today, asking them to stop bickering and start working together, and was greeted with applause. No one yelled “You lie!”
The United Nations, as critics will be quick to point out, is not the US Congress, and this attitude was summed up in a UK Telegraph headline even before the speech: “The UN loves Barack Obama because he is weak.”
The postmortems will follow that line. “Obama,” Fox News reports, “just put Israel ‘on the chopping block,’ said former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton.”
Never mind what the President actually said: “To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair, all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security.”
Overall, the President proposed “four pillars” as “fundamental to the future that we want for our children”– nuclear disarmament, Middle East peace, environmental renewal and economic growth, while warning North Korea and Iran “must be held accountable” if they continue to pursue nuclear weapons.
“The world,” he said, “must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future does not belong to fear.”
In distancing himself from the Bush era of going it alone in global affairs, President Obama opened himself once again to partisan attacks under the time-honored Wimp Factor, that Democrats are not macho enough to protect America from foreign threats.