Obama to UN: 'America will never retreat from the world'
President cites legacy of Libya Ambassador Christopher Stevens in address to General Assembly
- Duration 30:02
- Date Sep 25, 2012
President cites legacy of Libya Ambassador Christopher Stevens in address to General Assembly
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We're back our -- -- -- was taking to the UN and President Obama.
Chris was born in a town called.
The grass valley California.
The son of a lawyer and a musician.
As a young man Chris joined the peace -- And taught English in Morocco.
He came to love and respect the people of North Africa.
In the Middle East.
You would carry that commitment throughout his life.
As a diplomat.
He worked from Egypt to Syria.
From Saudi Arabia.
-- is known for walking the streets of the cities where he worked tasting the local food.
Meeting as many people as he could.
Listening with a broad smile.
Chris went to -- -- in the early days Libyan revolution.
Arriving on a cargo ship.
Americas represented but.
He helped Libyan people as they coped with -- violent conflict.
Cared for the wounded.
And crafted a vision for the future in which.
The rights of all Libyans would be respected.
After the revolution he supported the birth of a new democracy.
As Libyans held elections.
And build new institutions.
And began to move forward after decades of dictatorship.
Chris Stevens loved his work.
He took pride in the country he served.
He sought dignity and the people that he met.
Two weeks ago we travel to big -- to review plans to establish a new cultural center.
And modernize a hospital.
That's what America's compound came under attack.
Along with three of his colleagues.
Chris was killed in the city -- -- helped to say.
It was 52 years old.
I tell you the story because Chris Stevens embodied the best of America.
Like its fellow foreign service officers you build bridges across oceans cultures.
It was deeply invested in the international cooperation.
That the United Nations represents.
He acted with humility but he also stood up.
For a set of principles.
A belief that individuals should be free to determine their own destiny.
And live -- liberty.
The attacks on the civilians in -- -- were attacks on America.
We are grateful for the assistance we received from the Libyan government.
And from the Libyan people.
There should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.
I also appreciate that a recent days the leaders of other countries in the region including Egypt Tunisia.
Have taken steps to secure our diplomatic facilities.
And called for call.
And -- religious authorities around the -- But understand the attacks.
The last two weeks are not simply an assault on America.
There also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was found.
The notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully.
Diplomacy can take the place of war.
-- in an interdependent world all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity.
And security for our service.
If we are serious.
About upholding these ideals -- will not be enough to put more guards in front of an embassy.
-- put out statements of regret and wait for the outrage to pass.
We are serious about these ideals.
We must speak honestly about the deeper causes of the crisis.
Because we face a choice.
Between the forces that would drive us apart.
In the hopes that we hauled in cop.
Today we must reaffirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens and not.
By his killers.
Today we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.
Been less than two years since a vendor in Tunisia.
Set himself on fire to protest.
The oppressive corruption in his country.
And sparked what became known as the -- sport.
And sent -- the world has been captivated by the transformation that's taken place.
And the united mates -- the United States has supported.
The forces of change.
We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled dictator.
Because we recognize.
Our all beliefs.
In the aspiration of men and women who took to the streets.
We insisted on change of Egypt because our support for democracy.
Ultimately put us on the side of the people.
We support a transition of leadership in Yemen because the interest of the people.
We're no longer being served by -- corrupt status -- We -- being in -- alongside a broad coalition.
And with the mandate of the united nations Security Council because.
We -- the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful.
-- -- As we meet here we again declare that the regime of Bashar.
-- -- up must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop in a new dawn can begin.
We have taken these positions.
Because we believe that freedom and self determination are not unique to one culture.
These -- not simply American values or western values.
-- universal values.
And even as there will be huge challenges to come with a transition to democracy I'm convinced that ultimately government of the people.
By the people.
And for the people.
Is more likely to bring about the stability prosperity and individual opportunity.
That serve as the basis for peace and our world.
So let us remember that this is a season of progress.
For the first time in decades Tunisian egyptians and Libyans voted for new leaders in elections that -- credible.
Competitive and fair.
-- democratic spirit has not been restricted to the Arab world.
Over the past year we've seen peaceful transitions of power in -- -- and Senegal.
And new president in Somalia.
In -- -- president has freed political prisoners and opened a closed society.
The greatest dissident there's been elected parliament.
And people look forward.
To further reform.
Around the globe people are making their voices are insisting on their innate dignity.
And the right to determine their future.
Yet the turmoil of recent weeks reminds us that the path to democracy.
Does not end with the casting about.
Nelson Mandela once set.
-- before -- is not merely to cast off once chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances.
The freedom of others.
Demands that citizens cannot be thrown in jail because of what they believe.
And the businesses can be open without paying a broad.
It depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear.
On the rule of law and due process the guarantees the rights of all people.
In other words true democracy real for it.
It's hard work.
Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissidents.
In hard economic times countries must be tempted.
Maybe attempted to rally the people around perceived enemies at home and abroad rather than focusing on the painstaking work -- -- Moreover there will always be those that reject human progress.
Dictators who cling to power.
Corrupt interests the -- up on the status quo.
And extremists who fan the flames of hate and division.
From NORTHERN IRELAND to South Asia from Africa to the Americans.
From the Balkans to the Pacific rim we've witnessed convulsions that can a company transitions.
To a new political order.
The time the conflicts.
-- along the fault lines.
Often may arise from the difficulties of reconciling.
Traditions and faith.
We did the diversity and interdependence of the modern world.
In every country.
There are those who find different religious beliefs threatening.
In every culture.
Those who love freedom for themselves must ask themselves.
How much they're willing to tolerate freedom for others.
That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks.
As a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.
I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do -- this video.
I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.
It's an insult not only to Muslims.
To America's well.
Prisma city outside these walls makes clear we are country that has welcome people of every race at every -- We are home to Muslims who worship across our country.
We got our respect the freedom of religion we have laws to protect individuals from being harmed.
Because of how they look or what they believe.
We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among -- I know there are some who asked why don't we just ban such a video.
The answer is enshrined in our -- Our constitution protects the right to practice free speech.
Here in the United States countless publications provoke offense.
Like -- the majority of Americans are Christian and yet we do not bad blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs.
As president of our country.
And commander in chief of our military I except the people are gonna call me awful things every day.
And I will always defend their right to do so.
Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views.
Even views that we profoundly disagree with.
We do not do so because we support hateful speech.
But because our founders understood that without such protections the capacity of each individual.
To express their own views and practice their own -- may be threatened.
We do so because in a diverse society efforts to restrict speech in quickly become a tool to silence critics.
And oppressed minorities.
We do so because given the power of faith in our lives and the passion that the religious differences can -- -- The strongest weapon against -- speech does not repression.
It is more speech.
The voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy.
And lift up the values of understanding.
And mutual respect.
I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech.
We recognize that.
But in 2012.
At a time when anyone.
With a cellphone.
Can spread offensive views around the world with a click of a but.
The notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete.
The question then is how -- we respond.
And on this we must agree.
There is no speech that justifies mindless violence.
There are no words excuse the killing of -- there's.
No video that justifies an attack on members.
There's no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn the restaurant in Lebanon or destroy -- school -- and -- Cause death and destruction and pockets -- In this modern world with modern technologies.
-- to respond and that way to hateful speech empowers.
Individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world.
We empower the worst of us.
That's how we respond.
More broadly the events of the last two weeks also speak to the need for all of us honestly address.
The tensions between the west.
In the Arab world that is moving.
-- let me be clear just we cannot solve every problem in the world.
The United States has not and will not seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad.
We do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue.
Nor do we assume that the violence of the past.
Or the hateful speech by some individuals represent the views of the overwhelming majority of muscles.
Any more than abuse the people produced this video represents.
Those of Americans.
However I do believe that is the obligation of all leaders.
In all countries.
To speak out forcefully against violence and extremists.
It is time to marginalize those who.
Even when not.
Directly resorting to violence -- hatred of America.
Or the west or Israel as the central organizing principle of politics.
That only gets cover.
And sometimes makes an excuse.
For those who do resort to violence.
At brand of politics.
One that -- east against west ends up against -- Muslims against Christians and into and Jews.
On the promise of freedom.
-- -- -- It offers only false hope.
Burning an American flag does nothing to provide a child and education.
Smashing apart a restaurant does not fill and empty stomach.
Attacking an embassy.
Won't create a single -- -- brand of politics only makes it harder to achieve what we must do together.
Educating our children and creating opportunities that they deserve.
Protecting human rights and extending the -- democracy's promise.
Understand America will never retreat from the world.
We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens at our friends and we will stand with our allies.
We are willing to partner with countries.
Around the world to deepen ties of trade and investment in science and technology.
Energy and develop.
All efforts that can spark economic growth for all our people.
And stabilize democratic change.
But such efforts depend on a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect.
-- government or company.
A school or Ngo will be confident working at a country.
Where its people are in danger.
For partnerships to be effective.
Our citizens must be secure.
Our efforts must be welcome.
A politics based only on anger.
One based on dividing the world between us and them.
Not only -- back international cooperation.
-- alternately undermines those who tolerated.
All of us have an interest in standing up to these forces.
Let us remember that Muslims have suffered the most of the hands of extremists.
On the same day our civilians were killed in the -- A Turkish police officer was murdered in this stumble only days before his wedding.
More than ten -- these were killed in a car bomb in sum up.
Several Afghan children were more by their parents just days after they were killed by -- suicide bomber in Kabul.
The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the west.
But overtime it cannot be contained.
The same impulses towards extremism are used to justify a war between -- and -- Between tribes in plants.
It's not the strength and prosperity but to chaos.
In less than two years we have seen largely peaceful protest bring -- changed the Muslim majority countries.
-- a decade of violence.
Extremists understand this.
Because they have nothing offered improved the lives of people.
Violence is -- only way to stay relevant.
-- only destroyed.
It's time to leave the call of violence and politics of division.
And so many issues we face a choice between the promise of the future.
Where the presence of the past.
And we cannot afford to get it wrong.
We must seize this moment.
America stands ready to work -- all we're willing to embrace a better future.
The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Must be claimed by both in terrorists -- -- Muslims Christians we are want.
The future must not belong to those who bully women it must be shaped like girls who go to school.
And those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like ourselves.
The future must not belong to those -- few who steal a country's resources and it must be won by the students and not to -- Norris.
The workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people.
All the women and men that America stands with.
-- has the vision we will support.
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.
But to be credible those who condemn that slander must also condemned the hate we -- and images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated.
We're churches that are destroyed.
Or -- holocaust that is denied.
-- condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims.
And Shia pilgrims.
It's time to keep the words of -- intolerance is itself a form of violence.
And an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.
Together we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences.
Not defined by the that is what American bodies.
That's the vision we will support.
Among Israelis and Palestinians the future must not belong to those who turned their backs on the prospect of peace.
Let's leave behind those who thrive on conflict.
Those who reject the right of Israel to exist.
The road is hard but the destination is clear.
A secure Jewish State of Israel and an independent prosperous Palestine.
Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties America will walk alongside all were prepared to make that -- In Syria.
The future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people.
There -- the calls the cries out for protest in the world today peaceful protests.
And regime that tortures children.
And -- rockets that apartment buildings.
And we must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding the rights.
It's not and in the cycle of sectarian violence.
Together we must stand with those Syrians who believe in a different vision.
Syria that has -- the inclusive.
-- children don't need to fear their own government.
And all Syrians have a say in other government Sunnis and -- -- Kurds and Christians.
That's what America stands for bad at the outcome that we will work for with sanctions and consequences.
For those who persecute.
And assistance and support for those who worked for this common.
Because we believe that the Syrians who embrace this vision.
We'll have the strength and the legitimacy -- In Iran.
We see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads.
Iran the Iranian people have a remarkable and ancient history.
And many are audience wish to enjoy peace and prosperity alongside their neighbors.
But just as it restricts the rights of its own people.
-- running government continues to prop up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad.
Time and again it has failed to take.
The opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful and to meet its obligations -- the United Nations.
Let me be clear America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy.
And we believe that there is still time and space to do so.
But time is not unlimited.
We respect the right -- nations to access peaceful nuclear power.
One of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace.
Make no mistake nuclear armed Iran is not a challenge the can be contained.
It would threaten the elimination of Israel the security gulf nations.
And the stability of the global economy.
It risked triggering a nuclear arms race in the region and the unraveling of the nonproliferation treaty.
That's why a coalition of countries is holding the running government -- And that's why the United States will do what we must.
-- -- prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon up.
We know from painful experience that the path to security and prosperity.
Does not lie outside the boundaries of international law.
And respect for human rights.
That's why this institution was established.
From the rubble of conflict.
That is why liberty triumphed over tyranny in the Cold War.
That is the lesson of last two decades as well.
History shows the peace and progress come to those who make the right choices.
Nations in every part of the world have traveled.
This difficult -- Europe the bloodiest battlefields of the twentieth century is united free and at peace.
From Brazil to South Africa from Turkey the South Korea from India to Indonesia.
People of different races religions and traditions have lifted millions out of poverty.
While respecting the rights of their citizens and meeting the responsibilities -- nations.
It is because of the progress that I've witnessed in my -- life to.
The progress that I've witnessed after nearly four years -- press.
Are -- Ever hopeful about the world we look at.
War in Iraq result.
American troops have come all.
We become a transition in Afghanistan.
And American -- allies and our war on schedule and 2014.
-- qaeda's been -- Osama bin Laden is normal.
Nations have come together to lock down nuclear materials in America and Russia are reducing our arsenals.
We have seen hard choices made from making about the car -- to -- job.
To put more power in the hands uses.
At a time of economic challenge the world -- come together to broaden prospered.
Strategic warning we have partnered with.
Emerging countries to keep the world on the path recover.
America's pursuit of development agenda -- fuels growth and breaks dependence.
And worked with the African leaders to help them -- their nations.
-- partnerships have been forced to combat corruption and promote government that is open and transparent.
And new commitments have been made through the equal features partnership to ensure that women and girls.
Can fully participate in politics and pursue -- And later -- we'll discuss our efforts to combat the scourge of human traffic.
All these things give me -- What gives me the most -- -- not actions Abbas not the actions of leaders it is the people that I've seen.
The American troops who risked their lives and sacrifice their lives for strangers.
Half a world away.
The students in Jakarta.
We're sold were eager to use their knowledge to benefit mankind.
The faces in the square and -- Or parliament in -- who see democracy giving voice to their aspirations.
The young people.
In the from -- of real.
The school from -- but whose eyes -- with promise.
These men women and children of every race and every faith remind me that for every angry mop to get shown on television.
There are billions around the world who share similar hopes and -- They tell us that there is a common heart -- To humanity.
So much attention and our world turns.
To what divides.
That's what we see on the news that's what consumes our political debates.
But when you strip all white.
People everywhere long for the freedom to determine their best.
The dignity that comes would work the comfort that comes with faith.
The justice that exists when governments serve their people and not the other way around.
The United States of America will always stand up for these aspirations.
For our own people and for people all across the world.
That was our founding purpose.
That is what -- his free shots.
That is what Chris Stephens worked for throughout his life.
I promise you this.
Long after the killers are brought to justice.
Chris Stevens legacy.
Will live on in the lives that you touch.
In the tens of thousands who marched against violence.
Through the streets of -- god.
In the Libyans who changed their FaceBook photo.
One of press.
In the side of the rate simply.
Chris Stevens was a friend all Libyans.
They should give -- -- It should remind us that so long as we work for justice will be done.
If history is on our side.
That a rising tide of liberty will never be reports.
Thank you very much.