Obama takes on anti-Americanism, calls for new era
President Barack Obama began his first speech before the U.N. General Assembly by taking on the anti-Americanism that spread overseas in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq (six years before his presidency).
Misperceptions, misinformation, opposition to U.S. policies, and a belief that the United States acted unilaterally “fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism which, too often, has served as an excuse for collective inaction,” Obama said.
He called for embracing “a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
Obama basically put on the line his hopes for a new chapter in U.S. relations with other countries, and made clear that he was breaking from the unpopular policies of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
He ticked off action taken on issues of friction, saying he has prohibited torture, ordered Guantanamo Bay prison closed and worked on combating extremism “within the rule of law.”
At home, Obama faces Republican and conservative critics who question whether he is tough enough on national security.
The Republican National Committee was quick with a response to Obama’s U.N. speech: “Last week President Obama backed off his pledge to protect America and our allies in Eastern Europe with a strong missile defense shield. This week, we are seeing the president back off his March pledge of providing the resources necessary for our men and women in Afghanistan.”
“The president has already lost credibility with his commitment to our allies, so why should we believe his words today before the United Nations?” the RNC said in a statement.
Obama is trying to change world perception of the United States. Republicans are trying to change American perception of Obama.
Do you believe Obama will succeed in reducing anti-American opinion abroad? Will Republicans succeed in turning American opinion against Obama?
Photo credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton (World leaders listen as Obama addresses U.N. General Assembly), Reuters/Mike Segar (Obama speaking at the U.N.)