President Obama has spent three days at the United Nations, basking in the glow of world leaders’ adulation. He gave three speeches — one to a Climate Summit on combating global warming and climate change, a second to the opening session of the General Assembly outlining his plans to re-engage the UN, and a third to the Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation and the goal of total nuclear disarmament.
Col. Muanmmar al-Qaddafi (looking something like a D-movie version of Dracula) was so impressed with Obama that he said in his rambling 90 minute speech to the General Assembly immediately following Obama’s speech, that Obama (a “son of Africa”) should remain the president of the United States “forever.” Maybe that kind of flattery is why the U.S. delegation did not walk out. The whole thing should have been moved down a few blocks on First Avenue to the Bellevue psychiatric ward.
Obama’s UN speeches were big on inspirational rhetoric of the kind that Americans were over-exposed to during the campaign, and short on specifics. As is becoming his trademark in speeches addressed to international audiences, Obama also apologized for past U.S. actions, particularly those of the Bush Administration including Guantanamo Bay and alleged ‘torture.’ He portrayed his view that the United States is just one of 192 member states that needed the cooperation of everyone else to solve major problems. If that is the case, then why shouldn’t we pay only 1/192 of the UN budget rather than 22-25%?
President Obama boasted about how his administration had made sure that all our arrears to the UN were paid up — sliding over the fact that we obtained no assurances of meaningful UN reforms in return. He said that we would be spending a lot more on foreign aid and on support for developing countries to mitigate their carbon emissions and adapt to climate change, without laying down any clear and specific expectations of what those countries should commit to in return. He talked about a nuclear-free world without really confronting in concrete and specific terms the two elephants in the room — North Korea and Iran.
As Sean Hannity said on his program last night, Obama’s General Assembly speech was an embarrassment for the United States. He was groveling to get back in the good graces of world opinion. The other two speeches were not much better. Now it is on to Pittsburgh, where more pandering on the global economic crisis awaits.