I’ve taken US President Obama’s speech  at the UN General Assembly and Iranian President Rouhani’s speech  at the UN General Assembly and interwoven them as a dialog of sorts. It appears that President Rouhani did not attend President Obama’s speech, but he says that he did listen to it. Perhaps he sat outside the group so he could take notes and confer with his staff.
I cut some of the blather and redundancies. You can read the full transcripts if you are interested. The links are at the bottom of this page. I highlighted phrases I thought were interesting and more interesting. But I didn’t annotate. You can draw your own conclusions.
Obama: For most of recorded history, individual aspirations were subject to the whims of tyrants and empires. Divisions of race and religion and tribe were settled through the sword and the clash of armies. The idea that nations and peoples could come together in peace to solve their disputes and advance a common prosperity seemed unimaginable.
It took the awful carnage of two world wars to shift our thinking. The leaders who built the United Nations were not naïve; they did not think this body could eradicate all wars. But in the wake of millions dead and continents in rubble, and with the development of nuclear weapons that could annihilate a planet, they understood that humanity could not survive the course it was on. And so they gave us this institution, believing that it could allow us to resolve conflicts, enforce rules of behavior, and build habits of cooperation that would grow stronger over time. [ snip ]
Rouhani: Our world today is replete with fear and hope; fear of war and hostile regional and global relations; fear of deadly confrontation of religious, ethnic and national identities; fear of institutionalization of violence and extremism; fear of poverty and destructive discrimination; fear of decay and destruction of life-sustaining resources; fear of disregard for human dignity and rights; and fear of neglect of morality. Alongside these fears, however, there are new hopes; the hope of universal acceptance by the people and the elite all across the globe of “yes to peace and no to war”; and the hope of preference of dialogue over conflict and moderation over extremism.
The recent elections in Iran represent a clear, living example of the wise choice of hope, rationality and moderation by the great people of Iran. The realization of democracy consistent with religion and the peaceful transfer of executive power manifested that Iran is the anchor of stability in an otherwise ocean of regional instabilities. The firm belief of our people and government in enduring peace, stability, tranquility, peaceful resolution of disputes and reliance on the ballot box as the basis of power, public acceptance and legitimacy, has indeed played a key role in creating such a safe environment.
Obama: For much of my tenure as President, some of our most urgent challenges have revolved around an increasingly integrated global economy, and our efforts to recover from the worst economic crisis of our lifetime. Now, five years after the global economy collapsed, and thanks to coordinated efforts by the countries here today, jobs are being created, global financial systems have stabilized, and people are once again being lifted out of poverty. But this progress is fragile and unequal, and we still have work to do together to assure that our citizens can access the opportunities that they need to thrive in the 21st century.
Together, we’ve also worked to end a decade of war. Five years ago, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in harm’s way, and the war in Iraq was the dominant issue in our relationship with the rest of the world. Today, all of our troops have left Iraq. Next year, an international coalition will end its war in Afghanistan, having achieved its mission of dismantling the core of al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11.
For the United States, these new circumstances have also meant shifting away from a perpetual war footing. [ snip ]
Rouhani: The current critical period of transition in international relations is replete with dangers, albeit with unique opportunities. Any miscalculation of one’s position, and of course, of others, will bear historic damages; a mistake by one actor will have negative impact on all others. Vulnerability is now a global and indivisible phenomenon. At this sensitive juncture in the history global relations, the age of zero-sum games is over, even though a few actors still tend to rely on archaic and deeply ineffective ways and means to preserve their old superiority and domination. Militarism and the recourse to violent and military means to subjugate others are failed examples of the perpetuation of old ways in new circumstances.
Coercive economic and military policies and practices geared to the maintenance and preservation of old superiorities and dominations have been pursued in a conceptual mindset that negates peace, security, human dignity, and exalted human ideals. Ignoring differences between societies and globalizing Western values as universal ones represent another manifestation of this conceptual mindset. Yet another reflection of the same cognitive model is the persistence of Cold War mentality and bi-polar division of the world into “superior us” and “inferior others.” Fanning fear and phobia around new actors on the world scene is another.
Obama: As a result of this work, and cooperation with allies and partners, the world is more stable than it was five years ago. But even a glance at today’s headlines indicates that dangers remain. In Kenya, we’ve seen terrorists target innocent civilians in a crowded shopping mall, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have been affected. In Pakistan, nearly 100 people were recently killed by suicide bombers outside a church. In Iraq, killings and car bombs continue to be a terrible part of life. And meanwhile, al Qaeda has splintered into regional networks and militias, which doesn’t give them the capacity at this point to carry out attacks like 9/11, but does pose serious threats to governments and diplomats, businesses and civilians all across the globe.
Just as significantly, the convulsions in the Middle East and North Africa have laid bare deep divisions within societies, as an old order is upended and people grapple with what comes next. Peaceful movements have too often been answered by violence — from those resisting change and from extremists trying to hijack change. Sectarian conflict has reemerged. And the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction continues to cast a shadow over the pursuit of peace. [ snip ]
Now, the crisis in Syria, and the destabilization of the region, goes to the heart of broader challenges that the international community must now confront. How should we respond to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa — conflicts between countries, but also conflicts within them? How do we address the choice of standing callously by while children are subjected to nerve gas, or embroiling ourselves in someone else’s civil war? What is the role of force in resolving disputes that threaten the stability of the region and undermine all basic standards of civilized conduct? What is the role of the United Nations and international law in meeting cries for justice?
Rouhani: In such an environment, governmental and non-governmental, religious, ethnic, and even racial violence has increased, and there is no guarantee that the era of quiet among big powers will remain immune from such violent discourses, practices and actions. The catastrophic impact of violent and extremist narratives should not – in fact, must not – be underestimated.
In this context, the strategic violence, which is manifested in the efforts to deprive regional players from their natural domain of action, containment policies, regime change from outside, and the efforts towards redrawing of political borders and frontiers, is extremely dangerous and provocative.
The prevalent international political discourse depicts a civilized center surrounded by un-civilized peripheries. In this picture, the relation between the center of world power and the peripheries is hegemonic. The discourse assigning the North the center stage and relegating the South to the periphery has led to the establishment of a monologue at the level of international relations. The creation of illusory identity distinctions and the current prevalent violent forms of xenophobia are the inevitable outcome of such a discourse. Propagandistic and unfounded faith phobic, Islamo-phobic, Shia-phobic, and Iran-phobic discourses do indeed represent serious threats against world peace and human security.
This propagandistic discourse has assumed dangerous proportions through portrayal and inculcation of presumed imaginary threats. One such imaginary threat is the so-called “Iranian threat” -which has been employed as an excuse to justify a long catalogue of crimes and catastrophic practices over the past three decades. [ snip ]
Obama: Today, I want to outline where the United States of America stands on these issues. With respect to Syria, we believe that as a starting point, the international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons. When I stated my willingness to order a limited strike against the Assad regime in response to the brazen use of chemical weapons, I did not do so lightly. I did so because I believe it is in the security interest of the United States and in the interest of the world to meaningfully enforce a prohibition whose origins are older than the United Nations itself. The ban against the use of chemical weapons, even in war, has been agreed to by 98 percent of humanity. It is strengthened by the searing memories of soldiers suffocating in the trenches; Jews slaughtered in gas chambers; Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands.
[ snip ]
It’s time for Russia and Iran to realize that insisting on Assad’s rule will lead directly to the outcome that they fear: an increasingly violent space for extremists to operate. In turn, those of us who continue to support the moderate opposition must persuade them that the Syrian people cannot afford a collapse of state institutions, and that a political settlement cannot be reached without addressing the legitimate fears and concerns of Alawites and other minorities.
Rouhani: Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Nowhere in the world has violence been so deadly and destructive as in North Africa and West Asia. Military intervention in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein’s imposed war against Iran, occupation of Kuwait, military interventions against Iraq, brutal repression of the Palestinian people, assassination of common people and political figures in Iran, and terrorist bombings in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon are examples of violence in this region in the last three decades.
What has been – and continues to be – practiced against the innocent people of Palestine is nothing less than structural violence. Palestine is under occupation; the basic rights of the Palestinians are tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland. Apartheid as a concept can hardly describe the crimes and the institutionalized aggression against the innocent Palestinian people.
The human tragedy in Syria represents a painful example of catastrophic spread of violence and extremism in our region. From the very outset of the crisis and when some regional and international actors helped to militarize the situation through infusion of arms and intelligence into the country and active support of extremist groups, we emphasized that there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis.
Pursuit of expansionist strategies and objectives and attempts to change the regional balance through proxies cannot be camouflaged behind humanitarian rhetoric. The common objective of the international community should be a quick end to the killing of the innocent. While condemning any use of chemical weapons, we welcome Syria’s acceptance of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and believe that the access by extremist terrorist groups to such weapons is the greatest danger to the region that must be considered in any disarmament plan. Simultaneously, I should underline that illegitimate and ineffective threat to use or the actual use of force will only lead to further exacerbation of violence and crisis in the region.
Obama: We are committed to working this political track. And as we pursue a settlement, let’s remember this is not a zero-sum endeavor. We’re no longer in a Cold War. There’s no Great Game to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring that it does not become a safe haven for terrorists.
I welcome the influence of all nations that can help bring about a peaceful resolution of Syria’s civil war. [ ]
What broader conclusions can be drawn from America’s policy toward Syria? I know there are those who have been frustrated by our unwillingness to use our military might to depose Assad, and believe that a failure to do so indicates a weakening of American resolve in the region. Others have suggested that my willingness to direct even limited military strikes to deter the further use of chemical weapons shows we’ve learned nothing from Iraq, and that America continues to seek control over the Middle East for our own purposes. In this way, the situation in Syria mirrors a contradiction that has persisted in the region for decades: the United States is chastised for meddling in the region, accused of having a hand in all manner of conspiracy; at the same time, the United States is blamed for failing to do enough to solve the region’s problems and for showing indifference toward suffering Muslim populations.
I realize some of this is inevitable, given America’s role in the world. But these contradictory attitudes have a practical impact on the American people’s support for our involvement in the region, and allow leaders in the region — as well as the international community sometimes – to avoid addressing difficult problems themselves.
Rouhani: Terrorism and the killing of innocent people represent the ultimate inhumanity of extremism and violence. Terrorism is a violent scourge and knows no country or national borders. But, the violence and extreme actions such as the use of drones against innocent people in the name of combating terrorism should also be condemned. Here, I should also say a word about the criminal assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. For what crimes have they been assassinated? The United Nations and the Security Council should answer the question: have the perpetrators been condemned?
Unjust sanctions, as manifestation of structural violence, are intrinsically inhumane and against peace. And contrary to the claims of those who pursue and impose them, it is not the states and the political elite that are targeted, but rather, it is the common people who are victimized by these sanctions. Let us not forget millions of Iraqis who, as a result of sanctions covered in international legal jargon, suffered and lost their lives, and many more who continue to suffer all through their lives. These sanctions are violent, pure and simple; whether called smart or otherwise, unilateral or multilateral. These sanctions violate inalienable human rights, inter alia, the right to peace, fight to development, right to access to health and education, and above all, the right to life. Sanctions, beyond any and all rhetoric, cause belligerence, warmongering and human suffering. It should be borne in mind, however, that the negative impact is not merely limited to the intended victims of sanctions; it also affects the economy and livelihood of other countries and societies, including the countries imposing sanctions.
Obama: So let me take this opportunity to outline what has been U.S. policy towards the Middle East and North Africa, and what will be my policy during the remainder of my presidency.
The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region.
We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War.
We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends on the region’s energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.
We will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people. Wherever possible, we will build the capacity of our partners, respect the sovereignty of nations, and work to address the root causes of terror. But when it’s necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attack, we will take direct action.
And finally, we will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction. Just as we consider the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be a threat to our own national security, we reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and undermine the global nonproliferation regime.
Rouhani: Mr. President, Excellencies, Violence and extremism nowadays have gone beyond the physical realm and have unfortunately afflicted and tarnished the mental and spiritual dimensions of life in human societies. Violence and extremism leave no space for understanding and moderation as the necessary foundations of collective life of human beings and the modem society. Intolerance is the predicament of our time. We need to promote and reinforce tolerance in light of the religious teachings and appropriate cultural and political approaches. The human society should be elevated from a state of mere tolerance to that of collective collaboration. We should not just tolerate others. We should rise above mere tolerance and dare to work together.
People all over the world are tired of war, violence and extremism. They hope for a change in the status quo. And this is a unique opportunity – for us all. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that all challenges can be managed – successfully – through a smart, judicious blend of hope and moderation. Warmongers are bent on extinguishing all hope. But hope for change for the better is an innate, religious, widespread, and universal concept. Hope is founded on the belief in the universal will of the people across the globe to combat violence and extremism, to cherish change, to oppose imposed structures, to value choice, and to act in accordance with human responsibility. Hope is no doubt one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon human beings by their All-Loving Creator. And moderation is to think and move in a wise, judicious manner, conscious of the time and the space, and to align exalted ideals with choice of effective strategies and policies, while cognizant of objective realities.
Obama: Now, to say that these are America’s core interests is not to say that they are our only interests. We deeply believe it is in our interests to see a Middle East and North Africa that is peaceful and prosperous, and will continue to promote democracy and human rights and open markets, because we believe these practices achieve peace and prosperity. But I also believe that we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action, particularly through military action. Iraq shows us that democracy cannot simply be imposed by force. Rather, these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and peoples of the region.
So what does this mean going forward? In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace.
The United States and Iran have been isolated from one another since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. This mistrust has deep roots. Iranians have long complained of a history of U.S. interference in their affairs and of America’s role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the Cold War. On the other hand, Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy and directly — or through proxies — taken American hostages, killed U.S. troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction.
I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight — the suspicions run too deep. But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.
Since I took office, I’ve made it clear in letters to the Supreme Leader in Iran and more recently to President Rouhani that America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully, although we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. We are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy. Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.
[ snip ]
Rouhani: The Iranian people, in a judiciously sober choice in the recent elections, voted for the discourse of hope, foresight and prudent moderation – both at home and abroad. In foreign policy, the combination of these elements means that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a regional power, will act responsibly with regard to regional and international security, and is willing and prepared to cooperate in these fields, bilaterally as well as multilaterally, with other responsible actors.
We defend peace based on democracy and the ballot box everywhere, including in Syria, Bahrain, and other countries in the region, and believe that there are no violent solutions to world crises. The bitter and ugly realities of the human society can only be overcome through recourse to and reliance on human wisdom, interaction and moderation. Securing peace and democracy and ensuring the legitimate rights of all countries in the world, including in the Middle East, cannot – and will not – be realized through militarism.
Iran seeks to resolve problems, not to create them. There is no issue or dossier that cannot be resolved through reliance on hope and prudent moderation, mutual respect, and rejection of violence and extremism. Iran’s nuclear dossier is a case in point. As clearly stated by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, acceptance of the inalienable right of Iran constitutes the best and the easiest way of resolving this issue. This is not political rhetoric. Rather, it is based on a profound recognition of the state of technology in Iran, global political environment, the end of the era of zero-sum games, and the imperative of seeking common objectives and interests towards reaching common understanding and shared security. Put otherwise, Iran and other actors should pursue two common objectives as two mutually inseparable parts of a political solution for the nuclear dossier of Iran.
1- Iran’s nuclear program – and for that matter, that of all other countries – must pursue exclusively peaceful purposes. I declare here, openly and unambiguously, that, notwithstanding the positions of others, this has been, and will always be, the objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nuclear weapon and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions. Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
2- The second objective, that is, acceptance of and respect for the implementation of the right to enrichment inside Iran and enjoyment of other related nuclear rights, provides the only path towards achieving the first objective. Nuclear knowledge in Iran has been domesticated now and the nuclear technology, inclusive of enrichment, has already reached industrial scale. It is, therefore, an illusion, and extremely unrealistic, to presume that the peaceful nature of the nuclear program of Iran could be ensured through impeding the program via illegitimate pressures.
In this context, the Islamic Republic of Iran, insisting on the implementation of its rights and the imperative of international respect and cooperation in this exercise, is prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency.
Iran seeks constructive engagement with other countries based on mutual respect and common interest, and within the same framework does not seek to increase tensions with the United States. I listened carefully to the statement made by President Obama today at the General Assembly. Commensurate with the political will of the leadership in the United States and hoping that they will refrain from following the short-sighted interest of warmongering pressure groups, we can arrive at a framework to manage our differences. To this end, equal footing, mutual respect, and the recognized principles of international law should govern the interactions. Of course, we expect to hear a consistent voice from Washington.
Obama: So now the rest of us must be willing to take risks as well. Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state, and we should say so clearly. Arab states, and those who supported the Palestinians, must recognize that stability will only be served through a two state solution and a secure Israel.
All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region, and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future. And moreover, ties of trade and commerce between Israelis and Arabs could be an engine of growth and opportunity at a time when too many young people in the region are languishing without work. So let’s emerge from the familiar corners of blame and prejudice. Let’s support Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are prepared to walk the difficult road to peace.
Real breakthroughs on these two issues — Iran’s nuclear program, and Israeli-Palestinian peace — would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa. But the current convulsions arising out of the Arab Spring remind us that a just and lasting peace cannot be measured only by agreements between nations. It must also be measured by our ability to resolve conflict and promote justice within nations. And by that measure, it’s clear that all of us have a lot more work to do.
[ snip ]
And our approach to Egypt reflects a larger point: The United States will at times work with governments that do not meet, at least in our view, the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests. Nevertheless, we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent, or supporting the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We will reject the notion that these principles are simply Western exports, incompatible with Islam or the Arab World. [ snip ] we will be engaged in the region for the long haul. For the hard work of forging freedom and democracy is the task of a generation.
And this includes efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like Iraq, Bahrain and Syria. We understand such longstanding issues cannot be solved by outsiders; they must be addressed by Muslim communities themselves. [ snip ]
[ snip ] the danger for the world is not an America that is too eager to immerse itself in the affairs of other countries or to take on every problem in the region as its own. The danger for the world is that the United States, after a decade of war — rightly concerned about issues back home, aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world — may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill.
I believe such disengagement would be a mistake. I believe America must remain engaged for
our own security. But I also believe the world is better for it. Some may disagree, but I believe
America is exceptional — in part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of
blood and treasure to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interests, but for the interests of
[ snip ]
I must be honest, though. We’re far more likely to invest our energy in those countries that want to work with us, that invest in their people instead of a corrupt few; that embrace a vision of society where everyone can contribute — men and women, Shia or Sunni, Muslim, Christian or Jew. [snip]
This leads me to a final point. There will be times when the breakdown of societies is so great, the violence against civilians so substantial that the international community will be called upon to act. This will require new thinking and some very tough choices. [ snip ]
I have made it clear that even when America’s core interests are not directly threatened, we stand ready to do our part to prevent mass atrocities and protect basic human rights. But we cannot and should not bear that burden alone. [ snip ]
We live in a world of imperfect choices. Different nations will not agree on the need for action in every instance, and the principle of sovereignty is at the center of our international order. But sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder, or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye. While we need to be modest in our belief that we can remedy every evil, while we need to be mindful that the world is full of unintended consequences, should we really accept the notion that the world is powerless in the face of a Rwanda or Srebrenica? If that’s the world that people want to live in, they should say so and reckon with the cold logic of mass graves.
But I believe we can embrace a different future. And if we don’t want to choose between inaction and war, we must get better — all of us — at the policies that prevent the breakdown of basic order. Through respect for the responsibilities of nations and the rights of individuals. Through meaningful sanctions for those who break the rules. Through dogged diplomacy that resolves the root causes of conflict, not merely its aftermath. Through development assistance that brings hope to the marginalized. And yes, sometimes – although this will not be enough — there are going to be moments where the international community will need to acknowledge that the multilateral use of military force may be required to prevent the very worst from occurring.
[ snip ]
Rouhani: Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, In recent years, a dominant voice has been repeatedly heard: “The military option is on the table.” Against the backdrop of this illegal and ineffective contention, let me say loud and clear that “peace is within reach.” So, in the name of the Islamic Republic of Iran I propose, as a starting step, the consideration by the United Nations of the project: “the World Against Violence and Extremism.” (WAVE) Let us all join this “WAVE.” I invite all states, international organizations and civil institutions to undertake a new effort to guide the world in this direction.
We should start thinking about “Coalition for Enduing Peace” all across the globe instead of the ineffective “Coalitions for War” in various parts of the world. Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran invites you and the entire world community to take a step forward; an invitation to join the WAVE: World Against Violence and Extremism. We should accept and be able to open a new horizon in which peace will prevail over war, tolerance over violence, progress over bloodletting, justice over discrimination, prosperity over poverty, and freedom over despotism. As beautifully said by Ferdowsi, the renowned Iranian epic poet:
Be tireless in striving for the cause of Good
Bring the spring, you must, Banish the winter, you should
Notwithstanding all difficulties and challenges, I am deeply optimistic about the future. I have no doubt that the future will be bright with the entire world solidly rejecting violence and extremism. Prudent moderation will ensure a bright future for the world. My hope, aside from personal and national experience, emanates from the belief shared by all divine religions that a good and bright future awaits the world. As stated in the Holy Qur’an:
And We proclaimed in the Psalms, after We had proclaimed in the Torah, that My virtuous servants will inherit the earth. (21:105)
Obama: Ultimately, this is the international community that America seeks — one where nations do not covet the land or resources of other nations, but one in which we carry out the founding purpose of this institution and where we all take responsibility. A world in which the rules established out of the horrors of war can help us resolve conflicts peacefully, and prevent the kinds of wars that our forefathers fought. A world where human beings can live with dignity and meet their basic needs, whether they live in New York or Nairobi; in Peshawar or Damascus.
[ snip ]
Time and again, nations and people have shown our capacity to change — to live up to humanity’s highest ideals, to choose our better history. Last month, I stood where 50 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. told America about his dream, at a time when many people of my race could not even vote for President. Earlier this year, I stood in the small cell where Nelson Mandela endured decades cut off from his own people and the world. Who are we to believe that today’s challenges cannot be overcome, when we have seen what changes the human spirit can bring? Who in this hall can argue that the future belongs to those who seek to repress that spirit, rather than those who seek to liberate it?
I know what side of history I want to the United States of America to be on. We’re ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges with you — firm in the belief that all men and women are in fact created equal, each individual possessed with a dignity and inalienable rights that cannot be denied. That is why we look to the future not with fear, but with hope. And that’s why we remain convinced that this community of nations can deliver a more peaceful, prosperous and just world to the next generation.