Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by President Barack Obama
Address to the United Nations General Assembly
September 24, 2014
The future of human civilization depends on eliminating the scourge of violent, divisive extremism, U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday in a powerful plea to the United Nations General Assembly for collective action.
“It is no exaggeration to say that humanity’s future depends on us uniting against those who would divide us along fault lines of tribe or sect; race or religion,” the president said.
He particularly denounced the Islamic State, whose black-clad jihadists have carved out a proto-caliphate across much of eastern Syria and western Iraq as an evil that must be eradicated.
Islamic State and other violent Muslim extremists pose a new and more “lethal and ideological brand of terrorists who have perverted one of the world’s great religions,” Mr. Obama said, barely a day after U.S. warplanes escalated a new and borderless war bombing the nascent caliphate.
The president, who also denounced Moscow for resorting to big-power bullying tactics and called on nations to stop ignoring the plight of millions facing Ebola, saved his loudest call for action in a concerted, global effort to stamp out violent extremism.
“We reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations,” he said, but added the world must confront the stark reality that proxy wars and sectarian strife threaten to unravel great strides of human progress.
In a world racked by multiple simultaneous crises – conflict in Ukraine, Ebola raging in West Africa, the Middle East aflame and refugees fleeing in hundreds of thousands, the greatest exodus since the Second World War – President Obama urged leaders, especially in the Middle East, to seek peaceful outcomes…
“It is time to acknowledge the destruction wrought by proxy wars and terror campaigns between Sunni and Shia across the Middle East,” he said, adding: “It is time that political, civic and religious leaders reject sectarian strife.”
“Today, whether you live in downtown New York or in my grandmother’s village more than two hundred miles from Nairobi, you can hold in your hand more information than the world’s greatest libraries,” he said.
“I often tell young people in the United States that this is the best time in human history to be born, for you are more likely than ever before to be literate, to be healthy, and to be free to pursue your dreams.”