Obama jabs Trump in final UN address


President Obama took a shot at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday during his final address to the United Nations. 

Without mentioning Trump by name, Obama lashed out at a “crude populism” while defending his vision of a United States that engages with, rather than withdraws from, the world stage.

{mosads}“Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself,” he said. 

The president said leaders cannot afford to “dismiss these visions” of nationalist fervor because they reflect the deep dissatisfaction that people feel about globalization. 

But he repudiated the idea of pulling back from the world, saying that it would “fail to deliver security or prosperity over the long term.” 

“So the answer cannot be a simple rejection of global integration,” he said. “Instead, we must work together to make sure the benefits of such integration are broadly shared.”

The president used his 48-minute speech to burnish his foreign policy legacy for a final time, rattling off accomplishments such as the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate agreement and diplomatic openings with Cuba and Myanmar. 

He addressed international problems that have dogged his tenure, including the Syrian civil war, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and Russian aggression in Ukraine. 

The speech had domestic implications as well; it comes just weeks before the November elections, when that legacy is on the line. 

Trump has built his presidential platform on questioning trade deals and restricting immigration, most prominently by building a wall on the U.S. southern border at Mexico’s expense.

The GOP standard bearer also says the United States should rethink its longstanding commitment to international institutions such as NATO and has heaped praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama’s speech underscored the level of concern he has for Trump’s appeal with American voters. 

He’s frequently claimed world leaders have privately voiced worries about the outcome of the election, fearing it would lead to the erosion of U.S. leadership in the world.

Obama argued that a continuation of his commitment to democratic values and diplomacy is the best path forward.

“We can choose to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration or we can retreat into a world sharply divided and ultimately in conflict along age-old lines of nation and tribe and race and religion,” he said. “I want to suggest to you today that we must go forward and not back.”

At the same time, he called on world leaders to address problems such as economic inequality and racial and ethnic differences that have been exacerbated as the world becomes more interconnected.

But president warned that if “we start resorting to trade wars” or pursuing policies of isolation, “these approaches will make us poorer, collectively, and they are more likely to lead to conflict.”

Obama also defended his approach to fighting terrorism, which has come under attack from Trump and other Republicans. 

That criticism has heightened in the aftermath of terror attacks over the weekend in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota. 

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took credit for the Minnesota attack on Saturday reportedly carried out by Dahir Adan, a 22-year-old Somali-American who worked at a private security firm.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, was arrested Monday in New Jersey connection with bombs left in New York City and Seaside Park, N.J.

Those events have renewed criticism of Obama’s efforts to combat ISIS and his push to resettle more refugees from Syria, which he is making a centerpiece of his final U.N. summit. 

Obama warned that extremism would continue to be “exported overseas” as the coalition fighting ISIS takes their territory in the Middle East. But he said isolationism is not the solution to heading off that threat.

“Until basic questions are answered about how communities coexist, the embers of extremism will continue to burn,” he said. “And the world is too small for us to simply be able to build a wall and prevent it from affecting our own societies.”

He also stressed the need for the U.S. to have a refugee policy that stresses human empathy, “even when the politics are hard.”

“In the eyes of innocent men and women and children who through no fault of their own have had to flee everything that they know, everything that they love, we have to have the empathy to see ourselves,” he said. 

– Updated at 12:14 p.m.

Tags Business Donald Trump United Nations

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