In New York City today, both President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave strong, defining speeches on foreign policy – Obama at the United Nations and Romney at the Clinton Global Initiative. (President Obama also spoke at the Global Clinton Initiative shortly after noon today.)
Each of the speeches was closely watched not just for statements about America’s place in a turbulent world, but also the respective candidates’ global policies and economic positions as each man prepares himself for the general election on November 6.
PRESIDENT OBAMA AT THE U.N. :
• As we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop and a new dawn can begin. We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture.
• In every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask themselves how much they're willing to tolerate freedom for others. And that is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, where 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 with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well.
• We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them. I know there are some who ask why don't we just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws. Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.
• In Syria, the future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people. If there's a cause that cries out for protests in the world today, peaceful protest, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets in apartment buildings. And we must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence.
• In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads. The Iranian people have a remarkable and ancient history, and many Iranians wish to enjoy peace and prosperity alongside their neighbors. But just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian 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 to the United Nations.
• So 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 that time is not unlimited. We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace.
• Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY AT THE CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE :
• Free enterprise has done more to bless humanity than any other economic system not only because it is the only system that creates a prosperous middle class, but also because it is the only system where the individual enjoys the freedom to guide and build his or her own life… It can make us better people.
• Today, 82 percent of the resources flowing into the developing world come from the private sector. If foreign aid can leverage this massive investment by private enterprise, it may exponentially expand the ability to not only care for those who suffer, but also to change lives... For America to change lives, to change communities and nations in the Middle East, foreign aid must also play a role.
• There are three, quite legitimate, objects of our foreign aid.First, to address humanitarian need. Such is the case with the PEPFAR initiative, which has given medical treatment to millions suffering from HIV and AIDS. Second, to foster a substantial United States strategic interest, be it military, diplomatic, or economic. And there is a third purpose, one that will receive more attention and a much higher priority in a Romney Administration. And that is aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and in nations.
• Work. That must be at the heart of our effort to help people build economies that can create jobs for people, young and old alike. Work builds self-esteem. It transforms minds from fantasy and fanaticism to reality and grounding. Work will not long tolerate corruption nor quietly endure the brazen theft by government of the product of hard-working men and women.
• I will initiate ‘Prosperity Pacts.’ Working with the private sector, the program will identify the barriers to investment, trade, and entrepreneurialism in developing nations. In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights. We will focus our efforts on small and medium-size businesses.
• The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise. Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America’s own economy – free people pursuing happiness in their own ways build a strong and prosperous nation.”
• As the most prosperous nation in history, it is our duty to keep the engine of prosperity running — to open markets across the globe and to spread prosperity to all corners of the earth… It is also economically the smart thing to do.
• As president, I will [ensure] we have trade that works for America. I will negotiate new trade agreements, ask Congress to reinstate Trade Promotion Authority, complete negotiations to expand the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and create what I call a ‘Reagan Economic Zone,’ where any nation willing to play by the rules can participate in a new community committed to fair and free trade.