Globalism is here to stay and the world must address its shortcomings, Obama argues at the UN



U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his address on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York City, N.Y. (Dennis Van Tine/Abaca Press/TNS)

UNITED NATIONS — President Barack Obama on Tuesday used his final address before the United Nations to praise global integration and warn against the impulse to shut it out, calling on Americans and foreigners to tear down walls, not build them.

In a sweeping address that touched on the world’s trouble spots — including the 5-year-old civil war in Syria, the refugee crisis stemming from that nation and elsewhere, and creeping authoritarianism in Russia and Eastern Europe — Obama suggested they all are related to each other, and to a drive within the U.S. toward isolationism rather than embracing the rest of the world.

That impulse is self-defeating, he argued.


“Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself,” Obama said. “The answer cannot be a simple rejection of global integration. Instead, we must work together to make sure the benefits of such integration are broadly shared and that the disruptions — economic, political, and cultural — that are caused by integration are squarely addressed.”

The line was also one of several oblique references to Donald Trump, as a subtext of Obama’s speech was an argument against the Republican presidential nominee’s candidacy. Each nation can choose to “reject those who appeal to our worst impulses,” Obama said, “and embrace those who appeal to our best.”

But in his eighth and final address at the U.N. General Assembly, Obama’s broader message homed in on the world’s complex and interdependent problems, focusing relentlessly on where the world is going and not on old battles, political or otherwise.


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