REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND NATO SECRETARY GENERAL ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN
12:09 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hello, everybody. I just want to welcome Secretary General Rasmussen to the Oval Office. He and I had the opportunity to get to know each other at the NATO summit in Strasbourg, at which he was nominated and then selected as the new Secretary General of NATO.
I can say that, given his experience as a head of state, that everybody had confidence in his decisive and effective leadership abilities. That confidence has proven justified. In the brief time that he has been in NATO, I think he’s already shown himself to be an active and effective Secretary General, interested in reforming and renewing the NATO Alliance, and always rooted in the understanding that this is the most successful military alliance in history and the cornerstone of transatlantic relationships.
We had a very fruitful discussion while he was here. We talked about, obviously, the most important NATO mission right now, and that is Afghanistan. And we both agree that it is absolutely critical that we are successful in dismantling, disrupting, destroying the al Qaeda network, and that we are effectively working with the Afghan government to provide the security necessary for that country.
This is not a American battle; this is a NATO mission, as well. And we are working actively and diligently to consult with NATO at every step of the way. And I’m very grateful for the leadership that Secretary General Rasmussen has shown in committing NATO to a full partnership in this process.
We also discussed missile defense, and we both agreed that the configuration that we have proposed is one that ultimately will serve the interests of not only the United States, but also NATO Alliance members most effectively. It allows for a full collaboration with NATO members, and we are very optimistic that it will achieve our aims and deal with the very real threat of ballistic missiles.
We also agree that it is important for us to reach out to Russia and explore ways in which the missile defense configurations that we envision could potentially lead to further collaboration with Russia on this front; and that we want to improve generally not only U.S.-Russian relations, but also NATO-Russian relations, while making absolutely clear that our commitments to all of our allies in NATO is sacrosanct and that our commitment to Article 5 continues.
Finally, we discussed the process that we’re putting forward for a strategic concept review. NATO has been so successful that sometimes I think that we forget this was shaped and crafted for a 20th century landscape. We’re now well into the 21st century, and that means that we are going to have to constantly renew and revitalize NATO to meet current threats and not just past threats.
There has been a process that has been put forward; we are fully supportive of it. I am confident that under Secretary General Rasmussen’s leadership that it will ultimately be successful, and that we will continue to see NATO operate in a way that is good for U.S. national security interests, good for our allies, and good for the world.
So, Mr. Secretary General, thank you for the excellent work that you’re doing and we appreciate it very much. And please feel free to share a few words.
SECRETARY GENERAL RASMUSSEN: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your kind words.
The President and I have had a very constructive meeting. I have thanked the President for his strong support. I look very much forward to cooperating with the President and his administration on reforming, transforming, and modernizing NATO. We are going to elaborate a new strategic concept, which I hope can serve as leverage for renewal of NATO.
Of course, our main focus today has been our cooperation in Afghanistan. I say “our” focus deliberately because our operation in Afghanistan is not America’s responsibility or burden alone. It is and it will remain a team effort. I agree with President Obama in his approach: strategy first, then resources. The first thing is not numbers. It is to find and fine-tune the right approach to implement the strategy already laid down, and all NATO allies are right now looking at McChrystal’s review.
I’m convinced that success in Afghanistan is achievable and will be achieved. And don’t make any mistake — the normal discussion on the right approach should not be misinterpreted as lack of resolve. This Alliance will stand united and we will stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to finish our job.
As the President mentioned, we have also discussed missile defense. I welcome the new U.S. approach, which will allow all allies to participate, which will protect all allies. And in fact, I think the proposed new system can serve as an instrument to bind all allies — new and old — even stronger together.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. All right, thank you, everybody.
President Barack Obama Takes A Stand On Nuclear Weapons And Iran In Weekly Address – Full Transcript
WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Affirms Commitment to International Cooperation in Strengthening Economy and Stopping Nuclear Proliferation
WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Barack Obama recounted the progress made this past week in advancing America’s national security and economic prosperity at the United Nations and the G-20. The administration established the U.S. as a leader in the pursuit for clean energy, and agreed to reform the global financial system to prevent another crisis. Also, the President joined the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in nearly a year, chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council, which passed a resolution to secure loose nuclear materials, and stood in agreement with our European allies and Russia that Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons.
The audio and video will be available at 6:00am Saturday, September 26, 2009 at www.whitehouse.gov.
Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
September 26, 2009
This week, I joined leaders from around the world at the United Nations and the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. Today, I can report on what we achieved—a new commitment to meet common challenges, and real progress in advancing America’s national security and economic prosperity.
As I said at the U.N., over the past nine months my administration has renewed American leadership, and pursued a new era of engagement in which we call upon all nations to live up to their responsibilities. This week, our engagement produced tangible results in several areas.
In Pittsburgh, the world’s major economies agreed to continue our effort to spur global demand to put our people back to work. We committed ourselves to economic growth that is balanced and sustained— so that we avoid the booms and busts of the past. We reached an historic agreement to reform the global financial system—to promote responsibility and prevent abuse so that we never face a crisis like this again. And we reformed our international economic architecture, so that we can better coordinate our effort to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
We also established American leadership in the global pursuit of the clean energy of the 21st century. I am proud that the G-20 nations agreed to phase out $300 billion worth of fossil fuel subsidies. This will increase our energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat the threat of climate change, and help create the new jobs and industries of the future.
In New York, we advanced the cause of peace and security. I joined the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in nearly a year—a meeting that even nine months ago did not seem possible. And we resolved to move forward in the journey toward a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
We also took unprecedented steps to secure loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to seek a world without them. As the first U.S. president to ever chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, I was proud that the Council passed an historic and unanimous resolution embracing the comprehensive strategy I outlined this year in Prague.
To prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, the Security Council endorsed our global effort to lock down all vulnerable material within four years. We reaffirmed the basic compact of the global nonproliferation regime: all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; nations with nuclear weapons have the responsibility to move toward disarmament; and nations without them have the responsibility to forsake them.
The United States is meeting our responsibilities by pursuing an agreement with Russia to reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. And just as we meet our responsibilities, so must other nations, including Iran and North Korea.
Earlier this year, we imposed tough, new, sanctions on North Korea to stop their efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. And we will continue to stand with our allies and partners to press North Korea to move in a new direction.
This week, we joined with the United Kingdom and France in presenting evidence that Iran has been building a secret nuclear facility to enrich uranium. This is a serious challenge to the global nonproliferation regime, and continues a disturbing pattern of Iranian evasion. That is why international negotiations with Iran scheduled for October 1st now take on added urgency.
My offer of a serious, meaningful dialogue to resolve this issue remains open. But Iran must now cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and take action to demonstrate its peaceful intentions.
On this, the international community is more united than ever before. Yesterday, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our European allies in condemning Iran’s program. In our meetings and public statements, President Medvedev of Russia and I agreed that Iran must pursue a new course or face consequences. All of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany, have made it clear that Iran must fulfill its responsibilities.
Iran’s leaders must now choose – they can live up to their responsibilities and achieve integration with the community of nations. Or they will face increased pressure and isolation, and deny opportunity to their own people.
These are the urgent threats of our time. And the United States is committed to a new chapter of international cooperation to meet them. This new chapter will not be written in one week or even one year. But we have begun. And for the American people and the people of the world, it will mean greater security and prosperity for years to come.
Commentary: The Cuban Missile Crisis Meets Iranian “Secret” Missile Factory! It’s 1962 All Over Again…Sort Of!
When President Barack Obama, together with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, let the cat out of the bag about Iran’s secret building program of underground nuclear manufactoring facilities at the G-20 Summit, everyone in attendance were quite shocked. Funny how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad found himself awkwardly included in that group.
But while these events were unfolding, The Kaleidoscope Factor’s editorial director could not help but remember a crucial moment in history where world leaders were stunned by similar shocking revelations and another nation blind-sided by the reveal.
The date is October 25, 1962. The place is the United Nations. The Kennedy administration, too, came across information that beyond a shadow of doubt proved that the USSR were storing nuclear missiles in Cuba. But the USSR pleaded ignorance of such a scheme.
That is until Adlai Stevenson addressed the United Nations Security Council. Below is the entire transcript of that fascinating and humorous speech/interrogation magnificently done by Stevenson:
I want to say to you, Mr. Zorin, that I do not have your talent for obfuscation, for distortion, for confusing language, and for doubletalk. And I must confess to you that I am glad that I do not!
But if I understood what you said, you said that my position had changed, that today I was defensive because we did not have the evidence to prove our assertions, that your Government had installed long-range missiles in Cuba.
Well, let me say something to you, Mr. Ambassador—we do have the evidence. We have it, and it is clear and it is incontrovertible. And let me say something else—those weapons must be taken out of Cuba.
Next, let me say to you that, if I understood you, with a trespass on credibility that excels your stupidness, you said that our position had changed since I spoke here the other day because of the pressures of world opinion and the majority of the United Nations. Well, let me say to you, sir, you are wrong again. We have had no pressure from anyone whatsoever. We came in here today to indicate our willingness to discuss Mr. U Thant’s proposals, and that is the only change that has taken place.
But let me also say to you, sir, that there has been a change. You—the Soviet Union has sent these weapons to Cuba. You—the Soviet Union has upset the balance of power in the world. You—the Soviet Union has created this new danger, not the United States.
And you ask with a fine show of indignation why the President did not tell Mr. Gromyko on last Thursday about our evidence, at the very time that Mr. Gromyko was blandly denying to the President that the U.S.S.R. was placing such weapons on sites in the new world.
Well, I will tell you why—because we were assembling the evidence, and perhaps it would be instructive to the world to see how a Soviet official—how far he would go in perfidy. Perhaps we wanted to know if this country faced another example of nuclear deceit like that one a year ago, when in stealth, the Soviet Union broke the nuclear test moratorium.
And while we are asking questions, let me ask you why your Government—your Foreign Minister—deliberately, cynically deceived us about the nuclear build-up in Cuba.
And, finally, the other day, Mr. Zorin, I remind you that you did not deny the existence of these weapons. Instead, we heard that they had suddenly become defensive weapons. But today again if I heard you correctly, you now say that they do not exist, or that we haven’t proved they exist, with another fine flood of rhetorical scorn.
All right, sir, let me ask you one simple question: Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba? Yes or no—don’t wait for the translation—yes or no?
(The Soviet representative refused to answer.)
You can answer yes or no. You have denied they exist. I want to know if I understood you correctly. I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that’s your decision. And I am also prepared to present the evidence in this room.
(The President called on the representative of Chile to speak, but he lets Ambassador Stevenson continued as follows.)
I have not finished my statement. I asked you a question. I have had no reply to the question, and I will now proceed, if I may, to finish my statement.
I doubt if anyone in this room, except possibly the representative of the Soviet Union, has any doubt about the facts. But in view of his statements and the statements of the Soviet Government up until last Thursday, when Mr. Gromyko denied the existence or any intention of installing such weapons in Cuba, I am going to make a portion of the evidence available right now. If you will indulge me for a moment, we will set up an easel here in the back of the room where I hope it will be visible to everyone.
The first of these exhibits shows an area north of the village of Candelaria, near San Cristóbal, southwest of Habana. A map, together with a small photograph, shows precisely where the area is in Cuba.
The first photograph shows the area in late August 1962; it was then, if you can see from where you are sitting, only a peaceful countryside.
The second photograph shows the same area one day last week. A few tents and vehicles had come into the area, new spur roads had appeared, and the main road had been improved.
The third photograph, taken only twenty-four hours later, shows facilities for a medium-range missile battalion installed. There are tents for 400 or 500 men. At the end of the new spur road there are seven 1,000-mile missile trailers. There are four launcher-erector mechanisms for placing these missiles in erect firing position. This missile is a mobile weapon, which can be moved rapidly from one place to another. It is identical with the 1,000-mile missiles which have been displayed in Moscow parades. All of this, I remind you, took place in twenty-four hours.
The second exhibit, which you can all examine at your leisure, shows three successive photographic enlargements of another missile base of the same type in the area of San Cristóbal. These enlarged photographs clearly show six of these missiles on trailers and three erectors.
And that is only one example of the first type of ballistic missile installation in Cuba.
A second type of installation is designed for a missile of intermediate range—a range of about 2,200 miles. Each site of this type has four launching pads.
The exhibit on this type of missile shows a launching area being constructed near Guanajay, southwest of the city of Habana. As in the first exhibit, a map and small photograph show this area as it appeared in late August 1962, when no military activities were apparent.
A second large photograph shows the same area about six weeks later. Here you will see a very heavy construction effort to push the launching area to rapid completion. The pictures show two large concrete bunkers or control centers in process of construction, one between each pair of launching pads. They show heavy concrete retaining walls being erected to shelter vehicles and equipment from rocket blast-off. They show cable scars leading from the launch pads to the bunkers. They show a large reinforced concrete building under construction. A building with a heavy arch may well be intended as the storage area for the nuclear warheads. The installation is not yet complete, and no warheads are yet visible.
The next photograph shows a closer view of the same intermediate-range launch site. You can clearly see one of the pairs of large concrete launch pads, with a concrete building from which launching operations for three pads are controlled. Other details are visible, such as fuel tanks.
And that is only one example, one illustration, of the work being furnished in Cuba on intermediate-range missile bases.
Now, in addition to missiles, the Soviet Union is installing other offensive weapons in Cuba. The next photograph is of an airfield at San Julián in western Cuba. On this field you will see twenty-two crates designed to transport the fuselages of Soviet llyushin-28 bombers. Four of the aircraft are uncrated, and one is partially assembled. These bombers, sometimes known as Beagles, have an operating radius of about 750 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. At the same field you can see one of the surface-to-air antiaircraft guided missile bases, with six missiles per base, which now ring the entire coastline of Cuba.
Another set of two photographs covers still another area of deployment of medium-range missiles in Cuba. These photographs are on a larger scale than the others and reveal many details of an improved field-type launch site. One photograph provides an overall view of most of the site; you can see clearly three of the four launching pads. The second photograph displays details of two of these pads. Even an eye untrained in photographic interpretation can clearly see the buildings in which the missiles are checked out and maintained ready to fire, a missile trailer, trucks to move missiles out to the launching pad, erectors to raise the missiles to launching position, tank trucks to provide fuel, vans from which the missile firing is controlled, in short, all of the requirements to maintain, load, and fire these terrible weapons.
These weapons, gentlemen, these launching pads, these planes—of which we have illustrated only a fragment—are a part of a much larger weapons complex, what is called a weapons system.
To support this build-up, to operate these advanced weapons systems, the Soviet Union has sent a large number of military personnel to Cuba—a force now amounting to several thousand men.
These photographs, as I say, are available to members for detailed examination in the Trusteeship Council room following this meeting. There I will have one of my aides who will gladly explain them to you in such detail as you may require.
I have nothing further to say at this time.
(After another statement by the Soviet representative, Ambassador Stevenson replied as follows:)
Mr. President and gentlemen, I won’t detain you but one minute.
I have not had a direct answer to my question. The representative of the Soviet Union says that the official answer of the U.S.S.R. was the Tass statement that they don’t need to locate missiles in Cuba. Well, I agree—they don’t need to. But the question is, have they missiles in Cuba—and that question remains unanswered. I knew it would be.
As to the authenticity of the photographs, which Mr. Zorin has spoken about with such scorn, I wonder if the Soviet Union would ask its Cuban colleague to permit a U.N. team to go to these sites. If so, I can assure you that we can direct them to the proper places very quickly.
And now I hope that we can get down to business, that we can stop this sparring. We know the facts, and so do you, sir, and we are ready to talk about them. Our job here is not to score debating points. Our job, Mr. Zorin, is to save the peace. And if you are ready to try, we are.
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AT G20 CLOSING PRESS CONFERENCE
Pittsburgh Convention Center
5:13 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Let me, first of all, thank Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, County Executive Dan Onorato, and the people of Pittsburgh for being just extraordinary hosts. Last night during the dinner that I had with world leaders, so many of them commented on the fact that sometime in the past they had been to Pittsburgh — in some cases it was 20 or 25 or 30 years ago — and coming back they were so impressed with the revitalization of the city. A number of them remarked on the fact that it pointed to lessons that they could take away in revitalizing manufacturing towns in their home countries. The people here have been just extraordinary, and so I want to thank all of you for the great hospitality.
I will tell you I’m a little resentful because I did not get to Pamela’s Diner for pancakes. (Laughter.) Although, Prime Minister Yuk io Hatoyama of Japan did get pancakes. And I don’t know how he worked that, but he was raving about them.
Six months ago, I said that the London Summit marked a turning point in the G20′s effort to prevent economic catastrophe. And here in Pittsburgh, we’ve taken several significant steps forward to secure our recovery, and transition to strong, sustainable, and balanced economic growth. We brought the global economy back from the brink. We laid the groundwork today for long-term prosperity, as well.
It’s worth recalling the situation we faced six months ago — a contracting economy, skyrocketing unemployment, stagnant trade, and a financial system that was nearly frozen. Some were warning of a second Great Depression. But because of the bold and coordinated action that we took, millions of jobs have been saved or created; the decline in output has been stopped; financial markets have come back to life; and we stopped the crisis from spreading further to the developing world.
Still, we know there is much further to go. Too many Americans are still out of work, and struggling to pay bills. Too many families are uncertain about what the future will bring. Because our global economy is now fundamentally interconnected, we need to act together to make sure our recovery creates new jobs and industries, while preventing the kinds of imbalances and abuse that led us into this crisis.
Pittsburgh was a perfect venue for this work. This city has known its share of hard times, as older industries like steel could no longer sustain growth. But Pittsburgh picked itself up, and it dusted itself off, and is making the transition to job-creating industries of the future — from biotechnology to clean energy. It serves as a model for turning the page to a 21st century economy, and a reminder that the key to our future prosperity lies not just in New York or Los Angeles or Washington — but in places like Pittsburgh.
Today, we took bold and concerted action to secure that prosperity, and to forge a new Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth.
First, we agreed to sustain our recovery plans until growth is restored, and a new framework for prosperity is in place. Our coordinated stimulus plans played an indispensable role in averting catastrophe. Now, we must make sure that when growth returns — jobs do, too. That’s why we will continue our stimulus efforts until our people are back to work, and phase them out when our recovery is strong.
But we can’t stop there. Going forward, we cannot tolerate the same old boom and bust economy of the past. We can’t grow complacent. We can’t wait for a crisis to cooperate. That’s why our new framework will allow each of us to assess the others’ policies, to build consensus on reform, and to ensure that global demand supports growth for all.
Second, we agreed to take concrete steps to move forward with tough, new financial regulations so that crises like this can never happen again. Never again should we let the schemes of a reckless few put the world’s financial system — and our people’s well-being — at risk. Those who abuse the system must be held accountable. Those who act irresponsibly must not count on taxpayer dollars. Those days are over.
That’s why we’ve agreed on a strong set of reforms. We will bring more transparency to the derivatives market. And we will strengthen national capital standards, so that banks can withstand losses and pay for their own risks. We will create more powerful tools to hold large global financial firms accountable, and orderly procedures to manage failures without burdening taxpayers. And we will tie executive pay to long-term performance, so that sound decisions are rewarded instead of short-term greed. In short, our financial system will be far different and more secure than the one that failed so dramatically last year.
Third, we agreed to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels so that we can transition to a 21st century energy economy — an historic effort that would ultimately phase out nearly $300 billion in global subsidies. This reform will increase our energy security. It will help transform our economy, so that we’re creating the clean energy jobs of the future. And it will help us combat the threat posed by climate change. As I said earlier this week in New York, all nations have a responsibility to meet this challenge, and together, we have taken a substantial step forward in meeting that responsibility.
Finally, we agreed to reform our system of global economic cooperation and governance. We can no longer meet the challenges of the 21st century economy with 20th century approaches. And that’s why the G20 will take the lead in building a new approach to cooperation. To make our institutions reflect the reality of our times, we will shift more responsibility to emerging economies within the International Monetary Fund, and give them a greater voice. To build new markets, and help the world’s most vulnerable citizens climb out of poverty, we established a new World Bank Trust Fund to support investments in food security and financing for clean and affordable energy. And to ensure that we keep our commitments, we agreed to continue to take stock of our efforts going forward.
We have learned, time and again, that in the 21st century, the nations of the world share mutual interests. That’s why I’ve called for a new era of engagement that yields real results for our people — an era when nations live up to their responsibilities, and act on behalf of our shared security and prosperity.
And that’s exactly the kind of strong cooperation that we forged here in Pittsburgh, and earlier this week in New York. Indeed, on issue after issue, we see that the international community is beginning to move forward together. At the G20, we’ve achieved a level of tangible, global economic cooperation that we have never seen before, while also acting to address the threat posed by climate change. At the United Nations Security Council, we passed a historic resolution to secure loose nuclear materials, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek the security of a world without them. And as we approach negotiations with Iran on October 1st, we have never been more united in standing with the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany in demanding that Iran live up to its responsibilities.
On all of these challenges, there is much more work to be done. But we leave here today more confident and more united in the common effort of advancing security and prosperity for all of our people.
So I’m very grateful to the other world leaders who are here today. And with that, let me take a few questions. I’ll start with Ben Feller of AP.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. The Iranian President said today that your statement of this morning was a mistake, and that your mistakes work in Iran’s favor. What gives you any sense that you can genuinely negotiate with them? And also, when you talk about holding Iran accountable, is the military option growing more likely?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s important to see what happened today building on what happened in New York. You had an unprecedented show of unity on the part of the world community saying that Iran’s actions raised grave doubts in terms of their presentation that their nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Not only did the United States, France, and the United Kingdom who initiated the intelligence that brought this to light, stand before you, but you had China and Russia as well issue statements calling for an immediate IAEA investigation.
That kind of solidarity is not typical. Anybody who’s been following responses to Iran would have been doubtful just a few months ago that that kind of rapid response was possible.
So I think Iran is on notice; that when we meet with them on October 1st, they are going to have to come clean and they are going to have to make a choice: Are they willing to go down the path which I think ultimately will lead to greater prosperity and security for Iran, giving up the acquisition of nuclear weapons, and deciding that they are willing to abide by international rules and standards in their pursuit of peaceful nuclear energy; or will they continue down a path that is going to lead to confrontation? And as I said before, what has changed is that the international community I think has spoken. It is now up to Iran to respond.
I’m not going to speculate on the course of action that we will take. We’re going to give October 1st a chance. But I think you’ve heard that even countries who a year ago or six months ago might have been reluctant to even discuss things like sanctions have said that this is an important enough issue to peace and stability in the world that Iran would make a mistake in ignoring the call for them to respond in a forthright and clear manner, and to recognize that the choice they make over the next several weeks and months could well determine their ability to rejoin the international community or to find themselves isolated.
Last point I’ll make specifically with respect to the military, I’ve always said that we do not rule out any options when it comes to U.S. security interests, but I will also reemphasize that my preferred course of action is to resolve this in a diplomatic fashion. It’s up to the Iranians to respond.
Patricia Zengerle at Reuters.
Q You said a couple months ago that the war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity. Do you think it’s possible to meet U.S. objectives there without an extra infusion of U.S. troops? And as you consider this, how does the public’s lagging support for the war affect your decision-making now? And how has your review process been affected by the allegations of election fraud? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, let me be clear on our goals. We went into Afghanistan not because we were interested in entering that country or positioning ourselves regionally, but because al Qaeda killed 3,000-plus Americans and vowed to continue trying to kill Americans.
And so my overriding goal is to dismantle the al Qaeda network, to destroy their capacity to inflict harm, not just on us but people of all faiths and all nationalities all around the world, and that is our overriding focus.
Stability in Afghanistan and in Pakistan are critical to that mission. And after several years of drift in Afghanistan, we now find ourselves in a situation in which you have strong commitments from the ISAF coalition, our NATO allies. All of them are committed to making this work. But I think there’s also a recognition that after that many years of drift, it’s important that we examine our strategies to make sure that they actually can deliver on preventing al Qaeda from establishing safe havens.
Obviously the allegations of fraud in the recent election are of concern to us. And we are still awaiting results. We’re awaiting the IEC and the ECC issuing their full report. What’s most important is that there is a sense of legitimacy in Afghanistan among the Afghan people for their government. If there is not, that makes our task much more difficult.
In terms of the review process that we’re going through, the minute I came into office we initiated a review, and even before that review was completed, I ordered 21,000 additional troops into Afghanistan because I thought it was important to secure the election, to make sure that the Taliban did not disrupt it. What I also said at the time was that after the election, we are going to reassess our strategy, precisely because so much of our success has to be linked to the ability of the Afghan people themselves to provide for their own security, their own training, the Afghan government’s ability to deliver services and opportunity and hope to their people.
So we are doing exactly what I said we would do in March. I put in a new commander, General McChrystal, and I asked him to give me an unvarnished assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, and he has done that, as well. But keep in mind that, from the start, my belief was — and this is shared with our ISAF allies, that our military strategy is only part of a broader project that has to include a civilian component, has to include a diplomatic component, and all those different factors are being weighed and considered at this point. And I will ultimately make this decision based on what will meet that core goal that I set out at the beginning, which is to dismantle, disrupt, and destroy the al Qaeda network.
With respect to public opinion, I understand the public’s weariness of this war, given that it comes on top of weariness about the war in Iraq. Every time we get a report of a young man or woman who’s fallen in either of those theaters of war, it’s a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifice that they’re making. I know that our partners in Afghanistan feel that same pain when they see their troops harmed.
So this is not easy. And I would expect that the public would ask some very tough questions. That’s exactly what I’m doing, is asking some very tough questions. And we’re not going to arrive at perfect answers. I think anybody who’s looked at the situation recognizes that it’s difficult and it’s complicated. But my solemn obligation is to make sure that I get the best answers possible, particularly before I make decisions about sending additional troops into the theater.
Jon Delano of KDKA. Is Jon around?
Q Right here.
THE PRESIDENT: Good to see you, Jon.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Let me ask you, while we were inside this very safe and secure and beautiful convention center, some 5,000 at least demonstrators were on the outside. Some caused some property damage; others just shouted their messages, much of which had to do that while you believe the G20 summit was a success and represents a positive sign, they see it as something devilish and destructive of the world economy, and particularly the economy of the poor. What’s your response to those who are demonstrating and those who oppose this summit?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it’s important just to keep things in perspective for the people of Pittsburgh. If you have looked at any of the other summits that took place, I mean, in London you had hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. In most of these summits, there has been a much more tumultuous response. And I think the mayor and the county executive and all the people of Pittsburgh deserve extraordinary credit for having managed what is a very tranquil G20 summit.
You know, I think that many of the protests are just directed generically at capitalism. And they object to the existing global financial system. They object to free markets. One of the great things about the United States is, is that you can speak your mind and you can protest; that’s part of our tradition. But I fundamentally disagree with their view that the free market is the source of all ills.
Ironically, if they had been paying attention to what was taking place inside the summit itself, what they would have heard was a strong recognition from the most diverse collection of leaders in history that it is important to make sure that the market is working for ordinary people; that government has a role in regulating the market in ways that don’t cause the kinds of crises that we’ve just been living through; that our emphasis has to be on more balanced growth, and that includes making sure that growth is bottom up, that workers, ordinary people, are able to pay their bills, get — make a decent living, send their children to college; and that the more that we focus on how the least of these are doing, the better off all of us are going to be. That principle was embodied in the communiqué that was issued.
And so I would recommend those who are out there protesting, if they’re actually interested in knowing what was taking place here, to read the communiqué that was issued.
Laurent Lozano. Is Laurent here? There he is.
Q I am here. Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to follow up on Iran. Since Iran seems to be so blatantly in breach of its international obligations and with some of your allies, main allies, obviously growing impatient, why even meet with the Iranians on October 1st? And can you also explain to us what happened between the end of 2007 when an intelligence estimate cast doubts on the fact that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons and this year? What credit should be given to such intelligence?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, with respect to the intelligence that we presented to the IAEA, this was the work product of three intelligence agencies, not just one. These intelligence agencies checked over this work in a painstaking fashion, precisely because we didn’t want any ambiguity about what exactly was going on there. And I think that the response that you saw today indicates the degree to which this intelligence is solid and indicates the degree to which Iran was constructing an enrichment facility that it had not declared, contrary to U.N. resolutions and contrary to the rules governing the IAEA.
In terms of meeting, I have said repeatedly that we’re going to operate on two tracks; that our preferred method of action is diplomatic, but if that does not work, then other consequences may follow. I also said — and this was debated extensively here in the United States because there were some who suggested, you can’t talk to Iran, what’s the point — that by keeping the path of diplomacy open, that would actually strengthen world unity and our collective efforts to then hold Iran accountable. And I think you’re starting to see the product of that strategy unfold during the course of this week.
What we saw at the United Nations in the Security Council was a strong affirmation of the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and as a consequence, the IAEA is strengthened, and those countries who follow the rules are strengthened when it comes to dealing with countries like North Korea and Iran that don’t follow the rules. And that means that when we find that diplomacy does not work we will be in a much stronger position to, for example, apply sanctions that have bite.
Now, as I said, that’s not the preferred course of action. I would love nothing more than to see Iran choose the responsible path. Whether they do so or not will ultimately depend on their leaders and they will have the next few weeks to show to the world which path they want to travel.
I’m going to take one last question. I’ve got to call on one of these guys, you know, they’re my constituency here. All right, Chip.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You just mentioned sanctions that have bite. What kinds of sanctions — and I know you can’t get into details — but what kinds of sanctions at all would have bite with Iran? Do you really think any kind of sanction would have an effect on somebody like Ahmadinejad?
Secondly, some of your advisors today said that this announcement was a “victory.” Do you consider it a victory? And if so, why didn’t you announce it earlier since you’ve known since you were President-elect?
THE PRESIDENT: This isn’t a football game, so I’m not interested in victory; I’m interested in resolving the problem. The problem is, is that Iran repeatedly says that it’s pursuing nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes, and its actions contradict its words. And as a consequence, the region is more insecure and vital U.S. interests are threatened.
My job is to try to solve that. And my expectation is that we are going to explore with our allies, with the P5-plus-1, a wide range of options in terms of how we approach Iran, should Iran decline to engage in the ways that are responsible.
You just told me I’m not going to get into details about sanctions, and you’re right, I will not. But I think that if you have the international community making a strong united front, that Iran is going to have to pay attention.
In terms of why we didn’t come out with it sooner, I already mentioned to Laurent that it is very important in these kinds of high-stakes situations to make sure that the intelligence is right. And we wanted all three agencies — the French, the Brits, and the Americans — to have thoroughly scrubbed this and to make sure that we were absolutely confident about the situation there. We are, and now it’s up to Iran to respond.
Okay? Thank you very much, everybody. I hope you enjoy Pittsburgh. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PITTSBURGH SUMMIT
SEPTEMBER 24 – 25 2009
1. We meet in the midst of a critical transition from crisis to recovery to turn the page on an era of irresponsibility and to adopt a set of policies, regulations and reforms to meet the needs of the 21st century global economy.
2. When we last gathered in April, we confronted the greatest challenge to the world economy in our generation.
3. Global output was contracting at pace not seen since the 1930s. Trade was plummeting. Jobs were disappearing rapidly. Our people worried that the world was on the edge of a depression.
4. At that time, our countries agreed to do everything necessary to ensure recovery, to repair our financial systems and to maintain the global flow of capital.
5. It worked.
6. Our forceful response helped stop the dangerous, sharp decline in global activity and stabilize financial markets. Industrial output is now rising in nearly all our economies. International trade is starting to recover. Our financial institutions are raising needed capital, financial markets are showing a willingness to invest and lend, and confidence has improved.
7. Today, we reviewed the progress we have made since the London Summit in April. Our national commitments to restore growth resulted in the largest and most coordinated fiscal and monetary stimulus ever undertaken. We acted together to increase dramatically the resources necessary to stop the crisis from spreading around the world. We took steps to fix the broken regulatory system and started to implement sweeping reforms to reduce the risk that financial excesses will again destabilize the global economy.
8. A sense of normalcy should not lead to complacency.
9. The process of recovery and repair remains incomplete. In many countries, unemployment remains unacceptably high. The conditions for a recovery of private demand are not yet fully in place. We cannot rest until the global economy is restored to full health, and hard-working families the world over can find decent jobs.
10. We pledge today to sustain our strong policy response until a durable recovery is secured. We will act to ensure that when growth returns, jobs do too. We will avoid any premature withdrawal of stimulus. At the same time, we will prepare our exit strategies and, when the time is right, withdraw our extraordinary policy support in a cooperative and coordinated way, maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility.
11. Even as the work of recovery continues, we pledge to adopt the policies needed to lay the foundation for strong, sustained and balanced growth in the 21st century. We recognize that we have to act forcefully to overcome the legacy of the recent, severe global economic crisis and to help people cope with the consequences of this crisis. We want growth without cycles of boom and bust and markets that foster responsibility not recklessness.
12. Today we agreed:
13. To launch a framework that lays out the policies and the way we act together to generate strong, sustainable and balanced global growth. We need a durable recovery that creates the good jobs our people need.
14. We need to shift from public to private sources of demand, establish a pattern of growth across countries that is more sustainable and balanced, and reduce development imbalances. We pledge to avoid destabilizing booms and busts in asset and credit prices and adopt macroeconomic policies, consistent with price stability, that promote adequate and balanced global demand. We will also make decisive progress on structural reforms that foster private demand and strengthen long-run growth potential.
15. Our Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth is a compact that commits us to work together to assess how our policies fit together, to evaluate whether they are collectively consistent with more sustainable and balanced growth, and to act as necessary to meet our common objectives.
16. To make sure our regulatory system for banks and other financial firms reins in the excesses that led to the crisis. Where reckless behavior and a lack of responsibility led to crisis, we will not allow a return to banking as usual.
17. We committed to act together to raise capital standards, to implement strong international compensation standards aimed at ending practices that lead to excessive risk-taking, to improve the over-the-counter derivatives market and to create more powerful tools to hold large global firms to account for the risks they take. Standards for large global financial firms should be commensurate with the cost of their failure. For all these reforms, we have set for ourselves strict and precise timetables.
18. To reform the global architecture to meet the needs of the 21st century. After this crisis, critical players need to be at the table and fully vested in our institutions to allow us to cooperate to lay the foundation for strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
19. We designated the G-20 to be the premier forum for our international economic cooperation. We established the Financial Stability Board (FSB) to include major emerging economies and welcome its efforts to coordinate and monitor progress in strengthening financial regulation.
20. We are committed to a shift in International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota share to dynamic emerging markets and developing countries of at least 5% from over-represented countries to under-represented countries using the current quota formula as the basis to work from. Today we have delivered on our promise to contribute over $500 billion to a renewed and expanded IMF New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB).
21. We stressed the importance of adopting a dynamic formula at the World Bank which primarily reflects countries’ evolving economic weight and the World Bank’s development mission, and that generates an increase of at least 3% of voting power for developing and transition countries, to the benefit of under-represented countries. While recognizing that over-represented countries will make a contribution, it will be important to protect the voting power of the smallest poor countries. We called on the World Bank to play a leading role in responding to problems whose nature requires globally coordinated action, such as climate change and food security, and agreed that the World Bank and the regional development banks should have sufficient resources to address these challenges and fulfill their mandates.
22. To take new steps to increase access to food, fuel and finance among the world’s poorest while clamping down on illicit outflows. Steps to reduce the development gap can be a potent driver of global growth.
23. Over four billion people remain undereducated, ill-equipped with capital and technology, and insufficiently integrated into the global economy. We need to work together to make the policy and institutional changes needed to accelerate the convergence of living standards and productivity in developing and emerging economies to the levels of the advanced economies. To start, we call on the World Bank to develop a new trust fund to support the new Food Security Initiative for low-income countries announced last summer. We will increase, on a voluntary basis, funding for programs to bring clean affordable energy to the poorest, such as the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program.
24. To phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support for the poorest. Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.
25. We call on our Energy and Finance Ministers to report to us their implementation strategies and timeline for acting to meet this critical commitment at our next meeting.
26. We will promote energy market transparency and market stability as part of our broader effort to avoid excessive volatility.
27. To maintain our openness and move toward greener, more sustainable growth.
28. We will fight protectionism. We are committed to bringing the Doha Round to a successful conclusion in 2010.
29. We will spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.
30. We warmly welcome the report by the Chair of the London Summit commissioned at our last meeting and published today.
31. Finally, we agreed to meet in Canada in June 2010 and in Korea in November 2010. We expect to meet annually thereafter and will meet in France in 2011.
* * *
1. We assessed the progress we have made together in addressing the global crisis and agreed to maintain our steps to support economic activity until recovery is assured. We further committed to additional steps to ensure strong, sustainable, and balanced growth, to build a stronger international financial system, to reduce development imbalances, and to modernize our architecture for international economic cooperation.
A Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth
2. The growth of the global economy and the success of our coordinated effort to respond to the recent crisis have increased the case for more sustained and systematic international cooperation. In the short-run, we must continue to implement our stimulus programs to support economic activity until recovery clearly has taken hold. We also need to develop a transparent and credible process for withdrawing our extraordinary fiscal, monetary and financial sector support, to be implemented when recovery becomes fully secured. We task our Finance Ministers, working with input from the IMF and FSB, at their November meeting to continue developing cooperative and coordinated exit strategies recognizing that the scale, timing, and sequencing of this process will vary across countries or regions and across the type of policy measures. Credible exit strategies should be designed and communicated clearly to anchor expectations and reinforce confidence.
3. The IMF estimates that world growth will resume this year and rise by nearly 3% by the end of 2010. Subsequently, our objective is to return the world to high, sustainable, and balanced growth, while maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility and sustainability, with reforms to increase our growth potential and capacity to generate jobs and policies designed to avoid both the re-creation of asset bubbles and the re-emergence of unsustainable global financial flows. We commit to put in place the necessary policy measures to achieve these outcomes.
4. We will need to work together as we manage the transition to a more balanced pattern of global growth. The crisis and our initial policy responses have already produced significant shifts in the pattern and level of growth across countries. Many countries have already taken important steps to expand domestic demand, bolstering global activity and reducing imbalances. In some countries, the rise in private saving now underway will, in time, need to be augmented by a rise in public saving. Ensuring a strong recovery will necessitate adjustments across different parts of the global economy, while requiring macroeconomic policies that promote adequate and balanced global demand as well as decisive progress on structural reforms that foster private domestic demand, narrow the global development gap, and strengthen long-run growth potential. The IMF estimates that only with such adjustments and realignments, will global growth reach a strong, sustainable, and balanced pattern. While governments have started moving in the right direction, a shared understanding and deepened dialogue will help build a more stable, lasting, and sustainable pattern of growth. Raising living standards in the emerging markets and developing countries is also a critical element in achieving sustainable growth in the global economy.
5. Today we are launching a Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth. To put in place this framework, we commit to develop a process whereby we set out our objectives, put forward policies to achieve these objectives, and together assess our progress. We will ask the IMF to help us with its analysis of how our respective national or regional policy frameworks fit together. We will ask the World Bank to advise us on progress in promoting development and poverty reduction as part of the rebalancing of global growth. We will work together to ensure that our fiscal, monetary, trade, and structural policies are collectively consistent with more sustainable and balanced trajectories of growth. We will undertake macro prudential and regulatory policies to help prevent credit and asset price cycles from becoming forces of destabilization. As we commit to implement a new, sustainable growth model, we should encourage work on measurement methods so as to better take into account the social and environmental dimensions of economic development.
6. We call on our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to launch the new Framework by November by initiating a cooperative process of mutual assessment of our policy frameworks and the implications of those frameworks for the pattern and sustainability of global growth. We believe that regular consultations, strengthened cooperation on macroeconomic policies, the exchange of experiences on structural policies, and ongoing assessment will promote the adoption of sound policies and secure a healthy global economy. Our compact is that:
- G-20 members will agree on shared policy objectives. These objectives should be updated as conditions evolve.
- G-20 members will set out our medium-term policy frameworks and will work together to assess the collective implications of our national policy frameworks for the level and pattern of global growth and to identify potential risks to financial stability.
- G-20 Leaders will consider, based on the results of the mutual assessment, and agree any actions to meet our common objectives.
7. This process will only be successful if it is supported by candid, even-handed, and balanced analysis of our policies. We ask the IMF to assist our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in this process of mutual assessment by developing a forward-looking analysis of whether policies pursued by individual G-20 countries are collectively consistent with more sustainable and balanced trajectories for the global economy, and to report regularly to both the G-20 and the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), building on the IMF’s existing bilateral and multilateral surveillance analysis, on global economic developments, patterns of growth and suggested policy adjustments. Our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will elaborate this process at their November meeting and we will review the results of the first mutual assessment at our next summit.
8. These policies will help us to meet our responsibility to the community of nations to build a more resilient international financial system and to reduce development imbalances.
9. Building on Chancellor Merkel’s proposed Charter, on which we will continue to work, we adopted today Core Values for Sustainable Economic Activity, which will include those of propriety, integrity, and transparency, and which will underpin the Framework.
Strengthening the International Financial Regulatory System
10. Major failures of regulation and supervision, plus reckless and irresponsible risk taking by banks and other financial institutions, created dangerous financial fragilities that contributed significantly to the current crisis. A return to the excessive risk taking prevalent in some countries before the crisis is not an option.
11. Since the onset of the global crisis, we have developed and begun implementing sweeping reforms to tackle the root causes of the crisis and transform the system for global financial regulation. Substantial progress has been made in strengthening prudential oversight, improving risk management, strengthening transparency, promoting market integrity, establishing supervisory colleges, and reinforcing international cooperation. We have enhanced and expanded the scope of regulation and oversight, with tougher regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, securitization markets, credit rating agencies, and hedge funds. We endorse the institutional strengthening of the FSB through its Charter, following its establishment in London, and welcome its reports to Leaders and Ministers. The FSB’s ongoing efforts to monitor progress will be essential to the full and consistent implementation of needed reforms. We call on the FSB to report on progress to the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in advance of the next Leaders summit.
12. Yet our work is not done. Far more needs to be done to protect consumers, depositors, and investors against abusive market practices, promote high quality standards, and help ensure the world does not face a crisis of the scope we have seen. We are committed to take action at the national and international level to raise standards together so that our national authorities implement global standards consistently in a way that ensures a level playing field and avoids fragmentation of markets, protectionism, and regulatory arbitrage. Our efforts to deal with impaired assets and to encourage the raising of additional capital must continue, where needed. We commit to conduct robust, transparent stress tests as needed. We call on banks to retain a greater proportion of current profits to build capital, where needed, to support lending. Securitization sponsors or originators should retain a part of the risk of the underlying assets, thus encouraging them to act prudently. It is important to ensure an adequate balance between macroprudential and microprudential regulation to control risks, and to develop the tools necessary to monitor and assess the buildup of macroprudential risks in the financial system. In addition, we have agreed to improve the regulation, functioning, and transparency of financial and commodity markets to address excessive commodity price volatility.
13. As we encourage the resumption of lending to households and businesses, we must take care not to spur a return of the practices that led to the crisis. The steps we are taking here, when fully implemented, will result in a fundamentally stronger financial system than existed prior to the crisis. If we all act together, financial institutions will have stricter rules for risk-taking, governance that aligns compensation with long-term performance, and greater transparency in their operations. All firms whose failure could pose a risk to financial stability must be subject to consistent, consolidated supervision and regulation with high standards. Our reform is multi-faceted but at its core must be stronger capital standards, complemented by clear incentives to mitigate excessive risk-taking practices. Capital allows banks to withstand those losses that inevitably will come. It, together with more powerful tools for governments to wind down firms that fail, helps us hold firms accountable for the risks that they take. Building on their Declaration on Further Steps to Strengthen the International Financial System, we call on our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to reach agreement on an international framework of reform in the following critical areas:
· Building high quality capital and mitigating pro-cyclicality: We commit to developing by end-2010 internationally agreed rules to improve both the quantity and quality of bank capital and to discourage excessive leverage. These rules will be phased in as financial conditions improve and economic recovery is assured, with the aim of implementation by end-2012. The national implementation of higher level and better quality capital requirements, counter-cyclical capital buffers, higher capital requirements for risky products and off-balance sheet activities, as elements of the Basel II Capital Framework, together with strengthened liquidity risk requirements and forward-looking provisioning, will reduce incentives for banks to take excessive risks and create a financial system better prepared to withstand adverse shocks. We welcome the key measures recently agreed by the oversight body of the Basel Committee to strengthen the supervision and regulation of the banking sector. We support the introduction of a leverage ratio as a supplementary measure to the Basel II risk-based framework with a view to migrating to a Pillar 1 treatment based on appropriate review and calibration. To ensure comparability, the details of the leverage ratio will be harmonized internationally, fully adjusting for differences in accounting. All major G-20 financial centers commit to have adopted the Basel II Capital Framework by 2011.
· Reforming compensation practices to support financial stability: Excessive compensation in the financial sector has both reflected and encouraged excessive risk taking. Reforming compensation policies and practices is an essential part of our effort to increase financial stability. We fully endorse the implementation standards of the FSB aimed at aligning compensation with long-term value creation, not excessive risk-taking, including by (i) avoiding multi-year guaranteed bonuses; (ii) requiring a significant portion of variable compensation to be deferred, tied to performance and subject to appropriate clawback and to be vested in the form of stock or stock-like instruments, as long as these create incentives aligned with long-term value creation and the time horizon of risk; (iii) ensuring that compensation for senior executives and other employees having a material impact on the firm’s risk exposure align with performance and risk; (iv) making firms’ compensation policies and structures transparent through disclosure requirements; (v) limiting variable compensation as a percentage of total net revenues when it is inconsistent with the maintenance of a sound capital base; and (vi) ensuring that compensation committees overseeing compensation policies are able to act independently. Supervisors should have the responsibility to review firms’ compensation policies and structures with institutional and systemic risk in mind and, if necessary to offset additional risks, apply corrective measures, such as higher capital requirements, to those firms that fail to implement sound compensation policies and practices. Supervisors should have the ability to modify compensation structures in the case of firms that fail or require extraordinary public intervention. We call on firms to implement these sound compensation practices immediately. We task the FSB to monitor the implementation of FSB standards and propose additional measures as required by March 2010.
· Improving over-the-counter derivatives markets: All standardized OTC derivative contracts should be traded on exchanges or electronic trading platforms, where appropriate, and cleared through central counterparties by end-2012 at the latest. OTC derivative contracts should be reported to trade repositories. Non-centrally cleared contracts should be subject to higher capital requirements. We ask the FSB and its relevant members to assess regularly implementation and whether it is sufficient to improve transparency in the derivatives markets, mitigate systemic risk, and protect against market abuse.
· Addressing cross-border resolutions and systemically important financial institutions by end-2010: Systemically important financial firms should develop internationally-consistent firm-specific contingency and resolution plans. Our authorities should establish crisis management groups for the major cross-border firms and a legal framework for crisis intervention as well as improve information sharing in times of stress. We should develop resolution tools and frameworks for the effective resolution of financial groups to help mitigate the disruption of financial institution failures and reduce moral hazard in the future. Our prudential standards for systemically important institutions should be commensurate with the costs of their failure. The FSB should propose by the end of October 2010 possible measures including more intensive supervision and specific additional capital, liquidity, and other prudential requirements.
14. We call on our international accounting bodies to redouble their efforts to achieve a single set of high quality, global accounting standards within the context of their independent standard setting process, and complete their convergence project by June 2011. The International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) institutional framework should further enhance the involvement of various stakeholders.
15. Our commitment to fight non-cooperative jurisdictions (NCJs) has produced impressive results. We are committed to maintain the momentum in dealing with tax havens, money laundering, proceeds of corruption, terrorist financing, and prudential standards. We welcome the expansion of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information, including the participation of developing countries, and welcome the agreement to deliver an effective program of peer review. The main focus of the Forum’s work will be to improve tax transparency and exchange of information so that countries can fully enforce their tax laws to protect their tax base. We stand ready to use countermeasures against tax havens from March 2010. We welcome the progress made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and call upon the FATF to issue a public list of high risk jurisdictions by February 2010. We call on the FSB to report progress to address NCJs with regards to international cooperation and information exchange in November 2009 and to initiate a peer review process by February 2010.
16. We task the IMF to prepare a report for our next meeting with regard to the range of options countries have adopted or are considering as to how the financial sector could make a fair and substantial contribution toward paying for any burdens associated with government interventions to repair the banking system.
Modernizing our Global Institutions to Reflect Today’s Global Economy
17. Modernizing the international financial institutions and global development architecture is essential to our efforts to promote global financial stability, foster sustainable development, and lift the lives of the poorest. We warmly welcome Prime Minister Brown’s report on his review of the responsiveness and adaptability of the international financial institutions (IFIs) and ask our Finance Ministers to consider its conclusions.
Reforming the Mandate, Mission and Governance of the IMF
18. Our commitment to increase the funds available to the IMF allowed it to stem the spread of the crisis to emerging markets and developing countries. This commitment and the innovative steps the IMF has taken to create the facilities needed for its resources to be used efficiently and flexibly have reduced global risks. Capital again is flowing to emerging economies.
19. We have delivered on our promise to treble the resources available to the IMF. We are contributing over $500 billion to a renewed and expanded IMF New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB). The IMF has made Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocations of $283 billion in total, more than $100 billion of which will supplement emerging market and developing countries’ existing reserve assets. Resources from the agreed sale of IMF gold, consistent with the IMF’s new income model, and funds from internal and other sources will more than double the Fund’s medium-term concessional lending capacity.
20. Our collective response to the crisis has highlighted both the benefits of international cooperation and the need for a more legitimate and effective IMF. The Fund must play a critical role in promoting global financial stability and rebalancing growth. We welcome the reform of IMF’s lending facilities, including the creation of the innovative Flexible Credit Line. The IMF should continue to strengthen its capacity to help its members cope with financial volatility, reducing the economic disruption from sudden swings in capital flows and the perceived need for excessive reserve accumulation. As recovery takes hold, we will work together to strengthen the Fund’s ability to provide even-handed, candid and independent surveillance of the risks facing the global economy and the international financial system. We ask the IMF to support our effort under the Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth through its surveillance of our countries’ policy frameworks and their collective implications for financial stability and the level and pattern of global growth.
21. Modernizing the IMF’s governance is a core element of our effort to improve the IMF’s credibility, legitimacy, and effectiveness. We recognize that the IMF should remain a quota-based organization and that the distribution of quotas should reflect the relative weights of its members in the world economy, which have changed substantially in view of the strong growth in dynamic emerging market and developing countries. To this end, we are committed to a shift in quota share to dynamic emerging market and developing countries of at least five percent from over-represented to under-represented countries using the current IMF quota formula as the basis to work from. We are also committed to protecting the voting share of the poorest in the IMF. On this basis and as part of the IMF’s quota review, to be completed by January 2011, we urge an acceleration of work toward bringing the review to a successful conclusion. As part of that review, we agree that a number of other critical issues will need to be addressed, including: the size of any increase in IMF quotas, which will have a bearing on the ability to facilitate change in quota shares; the size and composition of the Executive Board; ways of enhancing the Board’s effectiveness; and the Fund Governors’ involvement in the strategic oversight of the IMF. Staff diversity should be enhanced. As part of a comprehensive reform package, we agree that the heads and senior leadership of all international institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based process. We must urgently implement the package of IMF quota and voice reforms agreed in April 2008.
STATEMENTS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA,
FRENCH PRESIDENT SARKOZY,
AND BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BROWN
ON IRANIAN NUCLEAR FACILITY
Pittsburgh Convention Center
8:43 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning. We are here to announce that yesterday in Vienna, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France presented detailed evidence to the IAEA demonstrating that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years.
Earlier this week, the Iranian government presented a letter to the IAEA that made reference to a new enrichment facility, years after they had started its construction. The existence of this facility underscores Iran’s continuing unwillingness to meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions and IAEA requirements. We expect the IAEA to immediately investigate this disturbing information, and to report to the IAEA Board of Governors.
Now, Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime. These rules are clear: All nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; those nations with nuclear weapons must move towards disarmament; those nations without nuclear weapons must forsake them. That compact has largely held for decades, keeping the world far safer and more secure. And that compact depends on all nations living up to their responsibilities.
This site deepens a growing concern that Iran is refusing to live up to those international responsibilities, including specifically revealing all nuclear-related activities. As the international community knows, this is not the first time that Iran has concealed information about its nuclear program. Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear power that meets the energy needs of its people. But the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program. Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow — endangering the global non-proliferation regime, denying its own people access to the opportunity they deserve, and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world.
It is time for Iran to act immediately to restore the confidence of the international community by fulfilling its international obligations. We remain committed to serious, meaningful engagement with Iran to address the nuclear issue through the P5-plus-1 negotiations. Through this dialogue, we are committed to demonstrating that international law is not an empty promise; that obligations must be kept; and that treaties will be enforced.
And that’s why there’s a sense of urgency about the upcoming meeting on October 1st between Iran, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and Germany. At that meeting, Iran must be prepared to cooperate fully and comprehensively with the IAEA to take concrete steps to create confidence and transparency in its nuclear program and to demonstrate that it is committed to establishing its peaceful intentions through meaningful dialogue and concrete actions.
To put it simply: Iran must comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and make clear it is willing to meet its responsibilities as a member of the community of nations. We have offered Iran a clear path toward greater international integration if it lives up to its obligations, and that offer stands. But the Iranian government must now demonstrate through deeds its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law.
I should point out that although the United Kingdom, France, and the United States made the presentation to Vienna, that Germany, a member of the P5-plus-1, and Chancellor Merkel in particular, who could not be here this morning, wished to associate herself with these remarks.
I would now like to turn to President Sarkozy of France for a brief statement.
PRESIDENT SARKOZY: (As translated.) Ladies and gentlemen, we have met yesterday for a meeting — a summit meeting of the Security Council on disarmament and nuclear disarmament. I repeated my conviction that Iran was taking the international community on a dangerous path. I have recalled all the attempts that we have made to offer a negotiated solution to the Iranian leaders without any success, which what has been revealed today is exceptional. Following the enriching plant of Natanz in 2002, it is now the Qom one which is revealed. It was designed and built over the past several years in direct violation of resolutions from the Security Council and from the IAEA. I am expecting from the IAEA an exhaustive, strict, and rigorous investigation, as President Obama just said.
We were already in a very severe confidence crisis. We are now faced with a challenge, a challenge made to the entire international communities. The six will meet with the Iranian representatives in Geneva. Everything — everything must be put on the table now.
We cannot let the Iranian leaders gain time while the motors are running. If by December there is not an in-depth change by the Iranian leaders, sanctions will have to be taken. This is for the peace and stability. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER BROWN: America, the United Kingdom, and France are at one. Iran’s nuclear program is the most urgent proliferation challenge that the world faces today.
As President Obama and President Sarkozy have just said, the level of deception by the Iranian government, and the scale of what we believe is the breach of international commitments, will shock and anger the whole international community, and it will harden our resolve.
Confronted by the serial deception of many years, the international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand. On October the 1st, Iran must now engage with the international community and join the international community as a partner. If it does not do so, it will be further isolated.
And I say on behalf of the United Kingdom today, we will not let this matter rest. And we are prepared to implement further and more stringent sanctions.
Let the message that goes out to the world be absolutely clear: that Iran must abandon any military ambitions for its nuclear program. Thank you.
”The Real Housewives Of Atlanta” is a ratings bonanza and the best of the “Housevives” franchise to date. Nene Leakes, the break-out star of the Atlanta series, positions herself as a down sista, always ‘keepin’ it real’ in whatever the situation. Season one, that attitude was refreshing.
Season two, not so refreshing. This season of “The Real Housewives Of Atlanta,” Nene Leakes shows her arrogance and immaturity in spades. Showing off for the cameras instead of ‘keepin’ it real,’ has been the mantra for Leakes. From fighting with Kim, starting ignorant crap in upscale restaurants, and general backstabbing antics, Nene Leakes’ behavior has peaked along with her gigantic ego. If ‘keepin’ it real’ means acting petty and ghetto, well Leakes is doing a great job at it.
The episode currently airing features Nene getting loud and obnoxious at Sheree’s independence party. Nene is apparently upset that Kim has decided to record a song with out her as planned. Egomaniac Nene goes on to tell Kim that the record won’t sell without her voice on it because, in her mind, she’s famous enough to carry the both of them. I don’t know if Nene is acting for the cameras or what, but the tirade that follows is unbecoming of the class act that she claims to be.
Calling Kandi Buress a ‘country bumpkin’ is like the kettle calling the pot black, Nene! The last time we checked, you were born and raised in Georgia, and currently reside there. What does that make you, sistafriend? That is straight up insulting to Kandi, her mother, and every other sista born and bred in the South! Not only that, in past episodes, Nene has called Kandi ‘ghetto’ or ‘a little ghetto.’ It is interesting that she would call Kandi out on qualities that she herself exhibits frequently.
In her book, “Never Make The Same Mistake Twice,” Nene Leakes dishes about her acting aspirations and various acting gigs, saying that the ‘Housewives’ show isn’t based in reality tv, but pure fiction. If Leakes is claiming that she is merely ‘acting’ when she shows her behind being ghetto, she should enroll at the Strausberg School of Acting and learn method acting. I am not feeling Nene Leakes right about now. The class act that she insists on being is obviously not the real her.
At this point, Nene Leakes has proven herself to be as fake as the seven figure smile Sheree wears and the shiny blond wigs that Kim is selling.
Just one day after troubled “One Day At A Time” star, Mackenzie Phillips, appeared on Oprah’s recliner, the fall-out from her revelations continue to pile up. Phillips revealed to Oprah that her father, The Mamas and The Papas’ founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Phillips, raped her at the age of eighteen or nineteen. Then, according to her claims, Mackenzie and her father maintained an incestuous for years. The relationship ended when a pregnancy developed that resulted in an abortion allegedly funded by John Phillips.
The not so big news and fall out is the response from family members and the media over the reliability of Mackenzie’s recollections. Mackenzie Phillips’ stepmother, Michelle Phillips, fervently denied the allegations hurled at her former husband by releasing the following statement:
“She (Mackenzie) told me, then she called me back and said, ‘You know I’m joking.’ I said it wasn’t funny. Mackenzie said, ‘I guess we have different senses of humor.’ John was a bad parent, and a drug addict. But *&^@ his daughter? If she thinks it’s true, why isn’t she with a good psychiatrist on a couch? I think it’s unconscionable that Oprah would let her do her show. I have every reason to believe it’s untrue. Oprah should be more judicious about who she has on her show.”
“Mackenzie has a lot of mental illness. She’s had a needle stuck up her arm for 35 years. She was arrested for heroin and coke just recently. She did ‘Celebrity Rehab’ and now she writes a book. The whole thing is timed.”
What do we at The Kaleidoscope Factor think? Well, since you, the reader asked, we feel this way: John Phillips, although famously talented and an icon of his generation, was a known habitual drug addict. Dopefiend. Druggie. Dope head. He used in front of his children and even taught them how to use as well. Has anyone denied that allegation? Nope. Why? Because it is a fact. All of the adults in Mackenzie Phillips’ life were habitual addicts and dropped the ball in being real parental figures.
It is nothing these days to hear of drug-starved parents selling their children for a hit of crack or heroin. Mothers strung out on crack selling their daughter’s precious bodies for drugs or leaving their children home alone for days while out getting high. Why is it so hard to believe that John Phillips could have raped his own child? Why is it so hard to believe that a child, so desperate for her father’s attention and affections, would maintain a incestuous relationship with her father for decades? Remember, the main characters in this story are all strung out on coke and heroin.
As to Michelle Phillips’ comments about whom Oprah picks as guests on her show, doesn’t Michelle realize it’s about the ratings, y’all? Yep. Whitney Houston and now, Mackenzie Phillips, are two troubled women in search of redemption and a come-back. Both admitted drug abusers, each has a story that is powerful and unique. Whether or not the stories are truthful, well, who really believe anything addicts say anyway?
But instead of immediately calling Mackenzie Phillips a liar in Joe Wilson fashion, maybe Michelle Phillips is covering her own sense of guilt and irresponsible behavior, or lack thereof, in regards to the raising of her stepdaughter. She was in the home up until some point before divorcing John Phillips. Also, in a “Behind The Music” interview, Michelle was recorded saying that she never left Chynna Phillips, their only child together, in John Phillips care, ever! Why was that? Because she knew all too well what her ex was like under the influence.
So, the fact of the matter is Mackenzie Phillips may or may not be lying about what happened with her father. But given the history of everyone involved in this mess, a swift benefit of the doubt is certainly due.
Some are calling it the most significant sign of hope in the fight against HIV/AIDS since AZT in the 1980′s. Researchers have announced that a new vaccine has been developed to combat HIV infection.
RV 144 is a combination of two vaccines that seperately have proved to be ineffective, but used together is thought to cut the risk of HIV infection. The study consisted of 16,402 Thais pooled from a cross section of the Thai young adult population. In 2006, half of the group were given six doses of two vaccines and the other half were given placebos. The group were tested for the virus that cause AIDS over a three year period of time.
The results were that out of the group given the test placebos, 74 became infected with HIV. The group given the combo of two vaccines saw a total of 51 HIV infections.
“I don’t want to use a word like ‘breakthrough,’ but I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is a very important result,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is one of the trial’s backers.
“For more than 20 years now, vaccine trials have essentially been failures,” he went on. “Now it’s like we were groping down an unlit path, and a door has been opened. We can start asking some very important questions.”
The important questions that need to be asked are:
What are the long-term effects of RV144, a combination of two genetically engineered vaccines?
How much will it cost to manufacture RV144?
Will the availability and distribution of the “miracle” vaccine be limited to the discretion of health insurance executives or will it facilitate the needs of those affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic?
Does one innoculation of the RV144 vaccine protect an individual for a lifetime, or does repeated dosing, like yearly flu shots, need to occur?
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Georgia and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms and flooding beginning on September 18, 2009, and continuing.
The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Carroll, Cobb, Douglas, and Paulding Counties.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Gracia B. Szczech as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time)
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: FEMA (202) 646-4600.
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts
WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts:
- Robert R. King, Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues, with the rank of Ambassador, Department of State
- Carolyn Colvin, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security, Social Security Administration
- Marisa Lago, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Markets and Development, Department of the Treasury
President Obama said, “I am honored that these talented individuals have chosen to serve their country at this important moment in our history. They will be valued voices in my administration, and I look forward to working them in the coming months and years.”
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:
Robert R. King, Nominee for Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues, with the rank of Ambassador, Department of State
Bob King has worked on Capitol Hill for the last 25 years, and for 24 of those years he was Chief of Staff to Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA). He was concurrently Staff Director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives (2007-2008), Democratic Staff Director of the Committee (2001-2007) and held various professional staff positions on the Committee since 1993. After Congressman Lantos’ death, Mr. King continued as Committee staff director for Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) for one year. As Staff Director of the Committee, Mr. King supervised committee staff on all aspects of its legislative, oversight and investigative work. Mr. King was heavily involved in the planning and conduct of Congressman Lantos’ human rights agenda, including the establishment and supervision of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which recently became the Tom Lantos Congressional Human Rights Commission. Prior to his service on Capitol Hill, Mr. King served on the National Security Council Staff as a White House Fellow during the Carter Administration. He was Assistant Director of Research and Analysis at Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany. Mr. King has also taught courses in U.S. foreign policy and international relations at the University of Southern California German Study Program, Brigham Young University Study Abroad, American University in Washington, D.C., New England College, and other institutions. He is author of five books and some 40 articles on international relations issues. He earned a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a B.A. from Brigham Young University. Among his honors and recognitions, he received the Knight’s Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. He is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Nominee for Deputy Commissioner of Social Security, Social Security Administration
Carolyn W. Colvin is Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation. Prior to this position, she was the CEO of AMERIGROUP Community Care, a company dedicated to caring for the financially vulnerable, seniors and people with disabilities through publicly-funded programs. Colvin served as the Director of Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services for over three years and as Cabinet Director of the Department of Human Services for the District of Columbia for over two years. She also brings over six and a half years experience working for the Social Security Administration, serving as the Deputy Commissioner for Operations and the Deputy Commissioner for Programs and Policy. In those roles, she provided executive leadership and directed the work of nearly 50,000 employees and the policy and programs of Social Security. She currently is a member of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Arundel Community Development Services, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Marisa Lago, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Markets and Development, Department of the Treasury
Marisa Lago was most recently the Chief Executive Officer and President of Empire State Development (through June 2009), and has had a distinguished career in international securities regulation, federal and municipal government, international financial services, and law. As the head of New York’s chief economic development agency, She pushed forward important long-term development projects including the revitalization of Erie Canal Harbor in Buffalo, the expansion and renovation of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, and the construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Immediately before joining New York State government, Lago spent five years as the Global Head of Compliance for Citigroup’s corporate and investment bank. Before joining Citigroup, Lago headed the Office of International Affairs for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. As the head of the office responsible for all aspects of the SEC’s international activities, Lago played a key role in numerous international initiatives involving trade in financial services, international accounting standards, securities activities on the internet and enhancing financial regulation in off- shore financial centers. In addition to her financial services experience, Lago has served in senior economic development positions in two major cities. As Boston’s Chief Economic Development Officer from 1994 to 1997, she headed the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and was also responsible for the city’s public housing, affordable housing, neighborhood development and job training agencies. From 1990 to 1994, she was General Counsel for New York City’s Economic Development Corporation. In the mid-1980′s, Lago worked for the Chairman of the New York City Planning Commission. She began her legal career as a clerk to Judge Hugh. H. Bownes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Lago earned a J.D. cum laude in 1982 from Harvard Law School, and a B.S. in physics from Cooper Union in 1977.
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Friends of Democratic Pakistan Meeting
New York City, NY.
September 24, 2009
Good morning. It is my pleasure to chair this meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan along with President Zardari and Prime Minister Brown.
I would like to congratulate President Zardari and the members states and organizations who are here today for the important work that has been done over the last twelve months, and for the progress that has been made in an extraordinarily difficult situation. Most of all, I would like to reaffirm my country’s deep commitment to the people of Pakistan.
All of us are here today because we share an interest in the success of the Pakistani people. We stand with them – as friends, and as partners – on behalf of a future with greater security and prosperity; and we stand with the institutions of Pakistan’s government as they seek to strengthen their democracy.
We also face a common threat. The violent extremists within Pakistan pose a threat to the region, to the United States, and to the world. Above all, they threaten the security of the Pakistani people. But whereas these extremists murder innocent men, women and children – and offer the people of Pakistan people nothing but destruction – we are here on behalf of a more hopeful future. We believe that hope can triumph over fear, and that adversity can be replaced by opportunity.
Success will require a sustained and expanded commitment from the international community. And that is why we are here today. Through the Friends of Democratic Pakistan – and through our bilateral relationship – the United States is firmly committed to the future that the Pakistani people deserve – a future that will advance our common security and prosperity. That is why my Administration has pledged substantial support for Pakistan, and the U.S. Congress has worked aggressively and effectively to expand development and economic assistance.
Just as we will help Pakistan strengthen the capacity that it needs to root out violent extremists, we are also committed to working with all of you to help Pakistan improve the basic services that its people depend upon – schools, roads, and hospitals. We must also address an energy crisis that has added a huge burden, and we look forward to supporting the Pakistani government’s efforts to strengthen its energy sector through partnership with this forum.
Finally, we will also work with the Pakistani government to as it makes its institutions more transparent and responsive, so that assistance reaches the people who need it, and Pakistan’s commitment to democracy is buttressed by a commitment to the rule of law.
I believe that the people of Pakistan can and will shape their own future. America has great respect for the Pakistani people, and I have personally been enriched through my travels to Pakistan and my friendships with Pakistani-Americans. I have no doubt that if Pakistan harnesses the talent, and ingenuity, and ambition of its own people – then there is no obstacle that can stand between it and a future of greater peace and prosperity.
We are here today to reaffirm our support for that effort. We are here to meet our mutual responsibility for our future. We know that there are difficult challenges ahead. But that is why we must remain focused, we must be committed, and we must stay together. As Pakistan makes progress, the United States will be there as a partner. And we will continue to work with President Zardari, Prime Minister Brown, and all of the nations and organizations in this room on behalf of the future that the Pakistani people deserve. Thank you.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL SUMMIT
ON NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION AND NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York
9:36 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: The 6191st meeting of the Security Council is called to order. The provisional agenda for this meeting is before the Council in document S/Agenda/6191, which reads, “Maintenance of international peace and security, nuclear proliferation, and nuclear disarmament.” Unless I hear any objection, I shall consider the agenda adopted. Agenda is adopted.
I wish to warmly welcome the distinguished heads of state and government, the General — the Secretary General, the Director General of the IAEA, ministers and other distinguished representatives present in the Security Council chamber. Your presence is an affirmation of the importance of the subject matter to be discussed.
The Security Council summit will now begin its consideration of item two of the agenda. Members of the Council have before them document S/2009/473, which contains the text of a draft resolution prepared in the course of the Council’s prior consultations. I wish to draw Council members’ attention to document S/2009/463 containing a letter dated 16 September 2009 from the United States of America, transmitting a concept paper on the item under consideration. In accordance with the understanding reached earlier among members, the Security Council will take action on the draft resolution before it prior to hearing statements from the Secretary General and Council members. Accordingly, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote now. Will those in favor of the draft resolution contained in document S/2009/473 please raise their hand? The results of the voting is as follows: The draft resolution is received unanimously, 15 votes in favor. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as Resolution 1887 of 2009.
I want to thank again everybody who is in attendance. I wish you all good morning. In the six-plus decades that this Security Council has been in existence, only four other meetings of this nature have been convened. I called for this one so that we may address at the highest level a fundamental threat to the security of all peoples and all nations: the spread and use of nuclear weapons.
As I said yesterday, this very institution was founded at the dawn of the atomic age, in part because man’s capacity to kill had to be contained. And although we averted a nuclear nightmare during the Cold War, we now face proliferation of a scope and complexity that demands new strategies and new approaches. Just one nuclear weapon exploded in a city — be it New York or Moscow; Tokyo or Beijing; London or Paris — could kill hundreds of thousands of people. And it would badly destabilize our security, our economies, and our very way of life.
Once more, the United Nations has a pivotal role to play in preventing this crisis. The historic resolution we just adopted enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. And it brings Security Council agreement on a broad framework for action to reduce nuclear dangers as we work toward that goal. It reflects the agenda I outlined in Prague, and builds on a consensus that all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; that nations with nuclear weapons have the responsibility to move toward disarmament; and those without them have the responsibility to forsake them.
Today, the Security Council endorsed a global effort to lock down all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years. The United States will host a summit next April to advance this goal and help all nations achieve it. This resolution will also help strengthen the institutions and initiatives that combat the smuggling, financing, and theft of proliferation-related materials. It calls on all states to freeze any financial assets that are being used for proliferation. And it calls for stronger safeguards to reduce the likelihood that peaceful nuclear weapons programs can be diverted to a weapons program — that peaceful nuclear programs can be diverted to a weapons program.
The resolution we passed today will also strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We have made it clear that the Security Council has both the authority and the responsibility to respond to violations to this treaty. We’ve made it clear that the Security Council has both the authority and responsibility to determine and respond as necessary when violations of this treaty threaten international peace and security.
That includes full compliance with Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea. Let me be clear: This is not about singling out individual nations — it is about standing up for the rights of all nations who do live up to their responsibilities. The world must stand together. And we must demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced.
The next 12 months will be absolutely critical in determining whether this resolution and our overall efforts to stop the spread and use of nuclear weapons are successful. And all nations must do their part to make this work. In America, I have promised that we will pursue a new agreement with Russia to substantially reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. We will move forward with the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and open the door to deeper cuts in our own arsenal. In January, we will call upon countries to begin negotiations on a treaty to end the production of fissile material for weapons. And the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May will strengthen that agreement.
Now, we harbor no illusions about the difficulty of bringing about a world without nuclear weapons. We know there are plenty of cynics, and that there will be setbacks to prove their point. But there will also be days like today that push us forward — days that tell a different story. It is the story of a world that understands that no difference or division is worth destroying all that we have built and all that we love. It is a recognition that can bring people of different nationalities and ethnicities and ideologies together. In my own country, it has brought Democrats and Republican leaders together — leaders like George Shultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, who are with us here today. And it was a Republican President, Ronald Reagan, who once articulated the goal we now seek in the starkest of terms. I quote:
“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And no matter how great the obstacles may seem, we must never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war. We must never stop until all — we must never stop at all until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the Earth.”
That is our task. That can be our destiny. And we will leave this meeting with a renewed determination to achieve this shared goal. Thank you.
In accordance with the understanding reached among Council members, I wish to remind all speakers to limit their statements to no more than five minutes in order to enable the Council to carry on its work expeditiously. Delegations with lengthy statements are kindly requested to circulate the text in writing and to deliver a condensed version when speaking in the chamber.
I shall now invite the distinguished Secretary General, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, to take the floor.
Fact Sheet On The United Nations Security Council Summit On Nuclear Nonproliferation And Nuclear Disarmament
Fact Sheet on the United Nations Security Council Summit on
Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament
UNSC Resolution 1887
“We harbor no illusions about the difficulty of bringing about a world without nuclear weapons. We know there are plenty of cynics, and that there will be setbacks to prove their point. But there will also be days like today that push us forward – days that tell a different story. It is the story of a world that understands that no difference or division is worth destroying all that we have built and all that we love. It is a recognition that can bring people of different nationalities and ethnicities and ideologies together. In my own country, it has brought Democrats and Republican leaders together.”
President Barack Obama
In an historic meeting, the United Nations Security Council today convened at the head of state/government level and unanimously cosponsored and adopted a resolution committing to work toward a world without nuclear weapons and endorsing a broad framework of actions to reduce global nuclear dangers.
The meeting, which was called for and chaired by President Obama during the United States’ Presidency of the Security Council, shows concrete progress and growing international political will behind the nuclear agenda that President Obama announced in his speech in Prague in April 2009.
The session was the fifth Summit-level meeting of the Council in its 63 years of existence and the first time that a Security Council Summit has been chaired by a U.S. President.
The new measure, UNSC Resolution 1887, expresses the Council’s grave concern about the threat of nuclear proliferation and the need for international action to prevent it. It reaffirms that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery are threats to international peace and security and shows agreement on a broad range of actions to address nuclear proliferation and disarmament and the threat of nuclear terrorism. Broadly, the resolution supports:
· A revitalized commitment to work toward a world without nuclear weapons, and calls for further progress on nuclear arms reductions, urging all states to work towards the establishment of effective measures of nuclear arms reduction and disarmament.
- A strengthened Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a Review Conference in 2010 that achieves realistic and achievable goals in all three pillars: nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The resolution supports universality of the NPT, calls on all states to adhere to its terms and makes clear the Council’s intent to immediately address any notice of intent to withdraw from the Treaty. The resolution also notes the ongoing efforts in the NPT review to identify mechanisms for responding collectively to any notification of withdrawal.
- Better security for nuclear weapons materials to prevent terrorists from acquiring materials essential to make a bomb, including through the convening of a Nuclear Security Summit in 2010, locking down vulnerable nuclear weapons materials in four years, a goal originally proposed by President Obama, minimizing the civil use of highly enriched uranium to the extent feasible, and encouraging the sharing of best practices as a practical way to strengthen nuclear security and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the G-8 Global Partnership.
- The Security Council’s authority and vital role in addressing the threat to international peace and security posed by the spread of nuclear weapons and underscoring the Council’s intent to take action if nuclear weapons or related material are provided to terrorists.
- Addressing the current major challenges to the nonproliferation regime, demanding full compliance with Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea and calling on the parties to find an early negotiated solution.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) essential role in preventing nuclear proliferation and ensuring access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under effective safeguards. This is particularly important to ensure that the growing interest in nuclear energy does not result in additional countries with nuclear weapons capabilities.
- Encouraging efforts to ensure development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in a framework that reduces proliferation risk and adheres to the highest standards for safeguards, security and safety and recognizing the inalienable right of parties to the NPT to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
- National efforts to make it more difficult for proliferating states and non-state actors to access the international financial system as well as efforts to strengthen export controls on proliferation-related materials and stronger detection, deterrence and disruption of illicit trafficking in such materials.
- Key nuclear agreements, including START follow-on agreement, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and its 2005 Amendment.
UNSC Resolution 1887 includes new provisions to deter withdrawal from the NPT and to ensure that nuclear energy is used in a framework that reduces proliferation dangers and adheres to high standards for security. The Council committed to address without delay any state’s notification of withdrawal from the NPT and affirmed that states will be held responsible for any violations of the NPT committed prior to their withdrawal from the Treaty.
The Council also endorsed important norms to reduce the likelihood that a peaceful nuclear program can be diverted to a weapons program, including support for stricter national export controls on sensitive nuclear technologies and having nuclear supplier states consider compliance with safeguards agreements when making decisions about nuclear exports and reserve the right to require that material and equipment provided prior to termination be returned if safeguards agreements are abrogated .
The Council also expressed strong support for ensuring the IAEA has the authority and resources necessary to carry out its mission to verify both the declared use of nuclear materials and facilities and the absence of undeclared activities and affirmed the Council’s resolve to support the IAEA’s efforts to verify whether states are in compliance with their safeguards obligations.
The resolution calls upon states to conclude safeguards agreements and an Additional Protocol with the IAEA, so that the IAEA will be in a position to carry out all of the inspections necessary to ensure that materials and technology from peaceful nuclear uses are not used to support a weapons program. The Council also endorsed IAEA work on multilateral approaches to the fuel cycle, including assurances of fuel supply to make it easier for countries to choose not to develop enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.
These steps are important in helping address situations where a country uses access to the civilian nuclear benefits of the NPT to cloak a nascent nuclear weapons program and then withdraws from the NPT once it has acquired sufficient technical expertise for its weapons program.
The resolution strengthens implementation for resolution 1540 which requires governments to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery. Full implementation of resolution 1540 by all UN member states will require additional financial and political support. The Council reaffirmed the need to give added impetus to the implementation of resolution 1540 by highlighting the options for improving the funding of the 1540 Committee’s activities, including through a voluntary trust fund, and reinforcing the Council’s commitment to ensure effective and sustainable support for the 1540 Committee’s activities.
The Security Council meeting was attended by:
President Barack Obama, United States of America
President Óscar Arias Sánchez, Republic of Costa Rica
President Stjepan Mesic, Republic of Croatia
President Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, Russian Federation
President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, United Mexican States
President Heinz Fischer, Republic of Austria
President Nguyen Minh Triet, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Republic of Uganda
President Hu Jintao, People’s Republic of China
President Nicolas Sarkozy, France
President Blaise Compaoré, Burkina Faso
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Japan
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Republic of Turkey
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General
Director General Mohamed Elbaradei, International Atomic Energy Agency
Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV OF RUSSIA
AFTER BILATERAL MEETING
Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, New York
4:26 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I want to welcome President Medvedev to the United States and New York. As you all know, I had the great pleasure of visiting him in Moscow, and he extended extraordinary hospitality to both myself and my family. More importantly, we got a lot of work done that I think will be bearing fruit in the months and years to come.
And I have to say publicly how much I appreciate the excellent working relationship that President Medvedev and I have been able to develop during our meetings, not only bilaterally but also at the various summits that we’ve attended.
We’ve had an excellent discussion that touched on a number of areas that our teams have been working on together over the last several months. In particular, we discussed the progress that’s being made on the START treaty. And both of us are confident that we can meet our self-imposed deadline to get an agreement that substantially reduces our nuclear missiles and launchers by the end of the year.
So we spent the bulk of our time talking about Iran. As I said in my speech today, the United States is committed to a strong non-proliferation regime. And we are committed to upholding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that strikes a bargain with all countries. That bargain says that countries are able to pursue peaceful nuclear technology; that they commit not to pursuing nuclear weapons; and those nations that have nuclear weapons make commitments to start reducing their stockpiles.
As the two major nuclear superpowers, we have made a commitment that we will reduce our nuclear stockpiles and move forward on our part of the bargain. And many other countries are abiding by the international commitments and norms that have been established by the NPT.
Unfortunately, Iran has been violating too many of its international commitments. So what we’ve discussed is how we can move in a positive direction that resolves a potential crisis, not just in the Middle East but that can cause enormous problems to the non-proliferation regime worldwide.
I believe that Russia and the United States shares the strategic objective that Iran can pursue peaceful energy sources but that it should not pursue nuclear weapons. I believe we also share the view that this should be resolved diplomatically, and I am on record as being committed to negotiating with Iran in a serious fashion to resolve this issue.
Russia, as a major leader, I think believes that such an approach is possible, as well. But I think we also both agree that if Iran does not respond to serious negotiations and resolve this issue in a way that assures the international community that it’s meeting its commitments, and is not developing nuclear weapons, then we will have to take additional actions and that sanctions, serious additional sanctions, remain a possibility.
We have an opportunity for a P5-plus-1 meeting with Iran in October. I hope that Iran seizes the opportunity to follow the path that both the United States and Russia would prefer in making a decision to live up to its international commitments, abandon nuclear weapons, and to fully join the international community in a way that I think will ultimately enhance the peace of the region and the prosperity of the Iranian people.
And once again, I just want to personally thank President Medvedev, but also the Russian people, for the leadership that they’re showing on the world stage. I’m confident that when the United States and Russia work on critical issues like nuclear non-proliferation, that the world rallies behind us and that we will be able to bring about the kind of international peace and security that I think we all want.
PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV: (As translated.) I’ll try to make my comment briefer because, unlike my colleague, President Barack Obama, I still have to deliver my statement from the United Nations rostrum.
I agree that indeed recently we have witnessed very positive changes in our relations, with established, constructive, friendly working relations that allow us to tackle difficult issues that not only the two countries face, but also the entire world.
Today we’ve discussed a range of issues — Mr. President listed them. Indeed, we communicate on regular basis. We personally meet quarterly and we talk on the phone regularly. So those personal contacts are not an exotic prank, but rather a manifestation of good working relations.
Indeed, we discussed new START treaty. We are satisfied with the current pace of work. The teams that were tasked to work on this matter work very successfully, we’re satisfied with the work. We believe that they will be able to stick to the time schedule and that in due time we will have every (inaudible).
We talked about missile defense with my colleague, President Obama. We talked that the decision that he took was reasonable and that reflected the position of the current U.S. administration on missile defense, and also takes into consideration our concerns on the missile defense which is needed for Europe and for the world. And we are ready to continue this work with our U.S. colleagues in this direction, as well as with our European colleagues, of course.
We also discussed other issues, we have devoted lots of our time to the Iranian problem my colleague, Mr. President, rightly mentioned. Our task is to create such a system of incentives that would allow Iran to resolve its fissile nuclear program, but at the same time prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. That’s why we, as responsible members of international community and, indeed, two nuclear superpowers, should send great signals in that direction.
I told His Excellency, Mr. President, that we believe we need to help Iran to take a right decision. As to also have sanctions, Russia’s belief is very simple, and I stated it recently. Sanctions rarely lead to productive results. But in some cases sanctions are inevitable.
Finally, it is a matter of choice. And we’re prepared to continue and to work together with the U.S. administration both on Iranian peaceful program and on other matters.
Most importantly, we’ve learned to listen to each other once again. And that is of great importance both to the future of relations of the two countries and the two peoples.
That is why I would like to give special thanks to you, Barack, for your cooperation on these matters.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.
Q What’s been the response to your speech?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I’ve been in too many meetings. I don’t know. But I’m looking for your review, Jake.
END 4:42 P.M. EDT
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York
10:10 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to address you for the first time as the 44th President of the United States. (Applause.) I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me, mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history, and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad.
I have been in office for just nine months — though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted, I believe, in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences, and outpaced by our problems. But they are also rooted in hope — the hope that real change is possible, and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change.
I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. And this has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for collective inaction.
Now, like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 — more than at any point in human history — the interests of nations and peoples are shared. The religious convictions that we hold in our hearts can forge new bonds among people, or they can tear us apart. The technology we harness can light the path to peace, or forever darken it. The energy we use can sustain our planet, or destroy it. What happens to the hope of a single child — anywhere — can enrich our world, or impoverish it.
In this hall, we come from many places, but we share a common future. No longer do we have the luxury of indulging our differences to the exclusion of the work that we must do together. I have carried this message from London to Ankara; from Port of Spain to Moscow; from Accra to Cairo; and it is what I will speak about today — because the time has come for the world to move in a new direction. We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.
We know the future will be forged by deeds and not simply words. Speeches alone will not solve our problems — it will take persistent action. For those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.
On my first day in office, I prohibited — without exception or equivocation — the use of torture by the United States of America. (Applause.) I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and we are doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law. Every nation must know: America will live its values, and we will lead by example.
We have set a clear and focused goal: to work with all members of this body to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies — a network that has killed thousands of people of many faiths and nations, and that plotted to blow up this very building. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, we and many nations here are helping these governments develop the capacity to take the lead in this effort, while working to advance opportunity and security for their people.
In Iraq, we are responsibly ending a war. We have removed American combat brigades from Iraqi cities, and set a deadline of next August to remove all our combat brigades from Iraqi territory. And I have made clear that we will help Iraqis transition to full responsibility for their future, and keep our commitment to remove all American troops by the end of 2011.
I have outlined a comprehensive agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. In Moscow, the United States and Russia announced that we would pursue substantial reductions in our strategic warheads and launchers. At the Conference on Disarmament, we agreed on a work plan to negotiate an end to the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. And this week, my Secretary of State will become the first senior American representative to the annual Members Conference of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Upon taking office, I appointed a Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, and America has worked steadily and aggressively to advance the cause of two states — Israel and Palestine — in which peace and security take root, and the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians are respected.
To confront climate change, we have invested $80 billion in clean energy. We have substantially increased our fuel-efficiency standards. We have provided new incentives for conservation, launched an energy partnership across the Americas, and moved from a bystander to a leader in international climate negotiations.
To overcome an economic crisis that touches every corner of the world, we worked with the G20 nations to forge a coordinated international response of over $2 trillion in stimulus to bring the global economy back from the brink. We mobilized resources that helped prevent the crisis from spreading further to developing countries. And we joined with others to launch a $20 billion global food security initiative that will lend a hand to those who need it most, and help them build their own capacity.
We’ve also re-engaged the United Nations. We have paid our bills. We have joined the Human Rights Council. (Applause.) We have signed the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals. And we address our priorities here, in this institution — for instance, through the Security Council meeting that I will chair tomorrow on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and through the issues that I will discuss today.
This is what we have already done. But this is just a beginning. Some of our actions have yielded progress. Some have laid the groundwork for progress in the future. But make no mistake: This cannot solely be America’s endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone. We have sought — in word and deed — a new era of engagement with the world. And now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.
Now, if we are honest with ourselves, we need to admit that we are not living up to that responsibility. Consider the course that we’re on if we fail to confront the status quo: Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world; protracted conflicts that grind on and on; genocide; mass atrocities; more nations with nuclear weapons; melting ice caps and ravaged populations; persistent poverty and pandemic disease. I say this not to sow fear, but to state a fact: The magnitude of our challenges has yet to be met by the measure of our actions.
This body was founded on the belief that the nations of the world could solve their problems together. Franklin Roosevelt, who died before he could see his vision for this institution become a reality, put it this way — and I quote: “The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation…. It cannot be a peace of large nations — or of small nations. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.”
The cooperative effort of the whole world. Those words ring even more true today, when it is not simply peace, but our very health and prosperity that we hold in common. Yet we also know that this body is made up of sovereign states. And sadly, but not surprisingly, this body has often become a forum for sowing discord instead of forging common ground; a venue for playing politics and exploiting grievances rather than solving problems. After all, it is easy to walk up to this podium and point figures — point fingers and stoke divisions. Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. Anybody can do that. Responsibility and leadership in the 21st century demand more.
In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold. The traditional divisions between nations of the South and the North make no sense in an interconnected world; nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War.
The time has come to realize that the old habits, the old arguments, are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people. They lead nations to act in opposition to the very goals that they claim to pursue — and to vote, often in this body, against the interests of their own people. They build up walls between us and the future that our people seek, and the time has come for those walls to come down. Together, we must build new coalitions that bridge old divides — coalitions of different faiths and creeds; of north and south, east, west, black, white, and brown.
The choice is ours. We can be remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of the 20th century into the 21st; that put off hard choices, refused to look ahead, failed to keep pace because we defined ourselves by what we were against instead of what we were for. Or we can be a generation that chooses to see the shoreline beyond the rough waters ahead; that comes together to serve the common interests of human beings, and finally gives meaning to the promise embedded in the name given to this institution: the United Nations.
That is the future America wants — a future of peace and prosperity that we can only reach if we recognize that all nations have rights, but all nations have responsibilities as well. That is the bargain that makes this work. That must be the guiding principle of international cooperation.
Today, let me put forward four pillars that I believe are fundamental to the future that we want for our children: non-proliferation and disarmament; the promotion of peace and security; the preservation of our planet; and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.
First, we must stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and seek the goal of a world without them.
This institution was founded at the dawn of the atomic age, in part because man’s capacity to kill had to be contained. For decades, we averted disaster, even under the shadow of a superpower stand-off. But today, the threat of proliferation is growing in scope and complexity. If we fail to act, we will invite nuclear arms races in every region, and the prospect of wars and acts of terror on a scale that we can hardly imagine.
A fragile consensus stands in the way of this frightening outcome, and that is the basic bargain that shapes the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It says that all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; that nations with nuclear weapons have a responsibility to move toward disarmament; and those without them have the responsibility to forsake them. The next 12 months could be pivotal in determining whether this compact will be strengthened or will slowly dissolve.
America intends to keep our end of the bargain. We will pursue a new agreement with Russia to substantially reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. We will move forward with ratification of the Test Ban Treaty, and work with others to bring the treaty into force so that nuclear testing is permanently prohibited. We will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts and reduces the role of nuclear weapons. And we will call upon countries to begin negotiations in January on a treaty to end the production of fissile material for weapons.
I will also host a summit next April that reaffirms each nation’s responsibility to secure nuclear material on its territory, and to help those who can’t — because we must never allow a single nuclear device to fall into the hands of a violent extremist. And we will work to strengthen the institutions and initiatives that combat nuclear smuggling and theft.
All of this must support efforts to strengthen the NPT. Those nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences. Let me be clear, this is not about singling out individual nations — it is about standing up for the rights of all nations that do live up to their responsibilities. Because a world in which IAEA inspections are avoided and the United Nation’s demands are ignored will leave all people less safe, and all nations less secure.
In their actions to date, the governments of North Korea and Iran threaten to take us down this dangerous slope. We respect their rights as members of the community of nations. I’ve said before and I will repeat, I am committed to diplomacy that opens a path to greater prosperity and more secure peace for both nations if they live up to their obligations.
But if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards; if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people; if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East — then they must be held accountable. The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future does not belong to fear.
That brings me to the second pillar for our future: the pursuit of peace.
The United Nations was born of the belief that the people of the world can live their lives, raise their families, and resolve their differences peacefully. And yet we know that in too many parts of the world, this ideal remains an abstraction — a distant dream. We can either accept that outcome as inevitable, and tolerate constant and crippling conflict, or we can recognize that the yearning for peace is universal, and reassert our resolve to end conflicts around the world.
That effort must begin with an unshakeable determination that the murder of innocent men, women and children will never be tolerated. On this, no one can be — there can be no dispute. The violent extremists who promote conflict by distorting faith have discredited and isolated themselves. They offer nothing but hatred and destruction. In confronting them, America will forge lasting partnerships to target terrorists, share intelligence, and coordinate law enforcement and protect our people. We will permit no safe haven for al Qaeda to launch attacks from Afghanistan or any other nation. We will stand by our friends on the front lines, as we and many nations will do in pledging support for the Pakistani people tomorrow. And we will pursue positive engagement that builds bridges among faiths, and new partnerships for opportunity.
Our efforts to promote peace, however, cannot be limited to defeating violent extremists. For the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the hope of human beings — the belief that the future belongs to those who would build and not destroy; the confidence that conflicts can end and a new day can begin.
And that is why we will support — we will strengthen our support for effective peacekeeping, while energizing our efforts to prevent conflicts before they take hold. We will pursue a lasting peace in Sudan through support for the people of Darfur and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, so that we secure the peace that the Sudanese people deserve. (Applause.) And in countries ravaged by violence — from Haiti to Congo to East Timor — we will work with the U.N. and other partners to support an enduring peace.
I will also continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world. (Applause.) We will continue to work on that issue. Yesterday, I had a constructive meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. We have made some progress. Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians. As a result of these efforts on both sides, the economy in the West Bank has begun to grow. But more progress is needed. We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.)
The time has come — the time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. And the goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security — a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people. (Applause.)
As we pursue this goal, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbors. In pursuit of that goal, we will develop regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations.
Now, I am not naïve. I know this will be difficult. But all of us — not just the Israelis and the Palestinians, but all of us — must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we will only lend it lip service. To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair, all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. (Applause.) And — and nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security. (Applause.)
We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It’s not paid by politicians. It’s paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the middle of the night. It’s paid for by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are all God’s children. And after all the politics and all the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security. That is a lesson embedded in the three great faiths that call one small slice of Earth the Holy Land. And that is why, even though there will be setbacks and false starts and tough days, I will not waver in my pursuit of peace. (Applause.)
Third, we must recognize that in the 21st century, there will be no peace unless we take responsibility for the preservation of our planet. And I thank the Secretary General for hosting the subject of climate change yesterday.
The danger posed by climate change cannot be denied. Our responsibility to meet it must not be deferred. If we continue down our current course, every member of this Assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders. Our efforts to end conflicts will be eclipsed by wars over refugees and resources. Development will be devastated by drought and famine. Land that human beings have lived on for millennia will disappear. Future generations will look back and wonder why we refused to act; why we failed to pass on — why we failed to pass on an environment that was worthy of our inheritance.
And that is why the days when America dragged its feet on this issue are over. We will move forward with investments to transform our energy economy, while providing incentives to make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. We will press ahead with deep cuts in emissions to reach the goals that we set for 2020, and eventually 2050. We will continue to promote renewable energy and efficiency, and share new technologies with countries around the world. And we will seize every opportunity for progress to address this threat in a cooperative effort with the entire world.
And those wealthy nations that did so much damage to the environment in the 20th century must accept our obligation to lead. But responsibility does not end there. While we must acknowledge the need for differentiated responses, any effort to curb carbon emissions must include the fast-growing carbon emitters who can do more to reduce their air pollution without inhibiting growth. And any effort that fails to help the poorest nations both adapt to the problems that climate change have already wrought and help them travel a path of clean development simply will not work.
It’s hard to change something as fundamental as how we use energy. I know that. It’s even harder to do so in the midst of a global recession. Certainly, it will be tempting to sit back and wait for others to move first. But we cannot make this journey unless we all move forward together. As we head into Copenhagen, let us resolve to focus on what each of us can do for the sake of our common future.
And this leads me to the final pillar that must fortify our future: a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.
The world is still recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In America, we see the engine of growth beginning to churn, and yet many still struggle to find a job or pay their bills. Across the globe, we find promising signs, but little certainty about what lies ahead. And far too many people in far too many places live through the daily crises that challenge our humanity — the despair of an empty stomach; the thirst brought on by dwindling water supplies; the injustice of a child dying from a treatable disease; or a mother losing her life as she gives birth.
In Pittsburgh, we will work with the world’s largest economies to chart a course for growth that is balanced and sustained. That means vigilance to ensure that we do not let up until our people are back to work. That means taking steps to rekindle demand so that global recovery can be sustained. And that means setting new rules of the road and strengthening regulation for all financial centers, so that we put an end to the greed and the excess and the abuse that led us into this disaster, and prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.
At a time of such interdependence, we have a moral and pragmatic interest, however, in broader questions of development — the questions of development that existed even before this crisis happened. And so America will continue our historic effort to help people feed themselves. We have set aside $63 billion to carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS, to end deaths from tuberculosis and malaria, to eradicate polio, and to strengthen public health systems. We are joining with other countries to contribute H1N1 vaccines to the World Health Organization. We will integrate more economies into a system of global trade. We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.
Now is the time for all of us to do our part. Growth will not be sustained or shared unless all nations embrace their responsibilities. And that means that wealthy nations must open their markets to more goods and extend a hand to those with less, while reforming international institutions to give more nations a greater voice. And developing nations must root out the corruption that is an obstacle to progress — for opportunity cannot thrive where individuals are oppressed and business have to pay bribes. That is why we support honest police and independent judges; civil society and a vibrant private sector. Our goal is simple: a global economy in which growth is sustained, and opportunity is available to all.
Now, the changes that I’ve spoken about today will not be easy to make. And they will not be realized simply by leaders like us coming together in forums like this, as useful as that may be. For as in any assembly of members, real change can only come through the people we represent. That is why we must do the hard work to lay the groundwork for progress in our own capitals. That’s where we will build the consensus to end conflicts and to harness technology for peaceful purposes, to change the way we use energy, and to promote growth that can be sustained and shared.
I believe that the people of the world want this future for their children. And that is why we must champion those principles which ensure that governments reflect the will of the people. These principles cannot be afterthoughts — democracy and human rights are essential to achieving each of the goals that I’ve discussed today, because governments of the people and by the people are more likely to act in the broader interests of their own people, rather than narrow interests of those in power.
The test of our leadership will not be the degree to which we feed the fears and old hatreds of our people. True leadership will not be measured by the ability to muzzle dissent, or to intimidate and harass political opponents at home. The people of the world want change. They will not long tolerate those who are on the wrong side of history.
This Assembly’s Charter commits each of us — and I quote — “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women.” Among those rights is the freedom to speak your mind and worship as you please; the promise of equality of the races, and the opportunity for women and girls to pursue their own potential; the ability of citizens to have a say in how you are governed, and to have confidence in the administration of justice. For just as no nation should be forced to accept the tyranny of another nation, no individual should be forced to accept the tyranny of their own people. (Applause.)
As an African American, I will never forget that I would not be here today without the steady pursuit of a more perfect union in my country. And that guides my belief that no matter how dark the day may seem, transformative change can be forged by those who choose to side with justice. And I pledge that America will always stand with those who stand up for their dignity and their rights — for the student who seeks to learn; the voter who demands to be heard; the innocent who longs to be free; the oppressed who yearns to be equal.
Democracy cannot be imposed on any nation from the outside. Each society must search for its own path, and no path is perfect. Each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its people and in its past traditions. And I admit that America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy. But that does not weaken our commitment; it only reinforces it. There are basic principles that are universal; there are certain truths which are self-evident — and the United States of America will never waver in our efforts to stand up for the right of people everywhere to determine their own destiny. (Applause.)
Sixty-five years ago, a weary Franklin Roosevelt spoke to the American people in his fourth and final inaugural address. After years of war, he sought to sum up the lessons that could be drawn from the terrible suffering, the enormous sacrifice that had taken place. “We have learned,” he said, “to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.”
The United Nations was built by men and women like Roosevelt from every corner of the world — from Africa and Asia, from Europe to the Americas. These architects of international cooperation had an idealism that was anything but naïve — it was rooted in the hard-earned lessons of war; rooted in the wisdom that nations could advance their interests by acting together instead of splitting apart.
Now it falls to us — for this institution will be what we make of it. The United Nations does extraordinary good around the world — feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, mending places that have been broken. But it also struggles to enforce its will, and to live up to the ideals of its founding.
I believe that those imperfections are not a reason to walk away from this institution — they are a calling to redouble our efforts. The United Nations can either be a place where we bicker about outdated grievances, or forge common ground; a place where we focus on what drives us apart, or what brings us together; a place where we indulge tyranny, or a source of moral authority. In short, the United Nations can be an institution that is disconnected from what matters in the lives of our citizens, or it can be an indispensable factor in advancing the interests of the people we serve.
We have reached a pivotal moment. The United States stands ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation — one that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of all nations. And so, with confidence in our cause, and with a commitment to our values, we call on all nations to join us in building the future that our people so richly deserve.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Promotes Tougher Rules on Wall Street to Protect Consumers
WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Obama highlighted the need for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to implement clearly enforced rules to help strengthen our financial markets and protect the interests of American consumers. The President also pointed to the aggressive and necessary action taken by his administration and other nations to stop our country’s economic freefall, and pledged to continue working with world leaders both at the upcoming G-20 summit and beyond to build on the progress already made.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
September 19, 2009
Leaders of the world’s largest economies will gather next week in Pittsburgh for the second time this year. The first meeting of the G-20 nations in April came at the height of the global financial crisis – a crisis that required unprecedented international cooperation to jumpstart the world’s economies and help break the downward spiral that enveloped all our nations.
At next week’s summit, we’ll have, in effect, a five-month checkup to review the steps each nation has taken – separately and together – to break the back of this economic crisis. And the good news is that we’ve made real progress since last time we met – here at home and around the world.
In February, we enacted a Recovery Act, providing relief to Americans who need it, preventing layoffs, and putting Americans back to work. We’ve worked to unlock frozen credit markets, spurring lending to Americans looking to buy homes or cars, take out student loans, or finance small businesses. And we’ve challenged other nations to join us not only to spur global demand, but to address the underlying problems that caused such a deep global recession in the first place.
Because of the steps taken by our nation and all nations, we can now say that we have stopped our economic freefall. But we also know that stopping the bleeding isn’t nearly enough. Our work is far from over. We know we still have a lot to do here at home to build an economy that is producing good jobs for all those who are looking for work today. And we know we still have a lot to do, in conjunction with nations around the world, to strengthen the rules governing financial markets and ensure that we never again find ourselves in the precarious situation we found ourselves in just one year ago.
As I told leaders of our financial community in New York City earlier this week, a return to normalcy can’t breed complacency. To protect our economy and people from another market meltdown, our government needs to fundamentally reform the rules governing financial firms and markets to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We cannot allow the thirst for reckless schemes that produce quick profits and fat executive bonuses to override the security of our entire financial system and leave taxpayers on the hook for cleaning up the mess. And as the world’s largest economy, we must lead, not just by word, but by example, understanding that in the 21st century, financial crises know no borders. All of us need to act more responsibly on behalf of a better economic future.
That is why, at next week’s G20 summit, we’ll discuss some of the steps that are required to safeguard our global financial system and close gaps in regulation around the world – gaps that permitted the kinds of reckless risk-taking and irresponsibility that led to the crisis. And that’s why I’ve called on Congress to put in place a series of tough, common-sense rules of the road that will protect consumers from abuse, let markets function fairly and freely, and help prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.
Central to these reforms is a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Part of what led to this crisis were not just decisions made on Wall Street, but also unsustainable mortgage loans made across the country. While many folks took on more than they knew they could afford, too often folks signed contracts they didn’t fully understand offered by lenders who didn’t always tell the truth. That’s why we need clear rules, clearly enforced. And that’s what this agency will do.
Consumers shouldn’t have to worry about loan contracts written to confuse, hidden fees attached to their mortgages, and financial penalties – whether through a credit card or debit card – that appear without a clear warning on their statements. And responsible lenders, including community banks, trying to do the right thing shouldn’t have to worry about ruinous competition from unregulated and unscrupulous competitors.
Not surprisingly, lobbyists for big Wall Street banks are hard at work trying to stop reforms that would hold them accountable and they want to keep things just the way they are. But we cannot let politics as usual triumph so business as usual can reign. We cannot let the narrow interests of a few come before the interests of all of us. We cannot forget how close we came to the brink, and perpetuate the broken system and breakdown of responsibility that made it possible.
In the weeks and months ahead, we have an opportunity to build on the work we’ve already done. An opportunity to rebuild our global economy stronger that before. An opportunity not only to protect the American people and America’s economy, but to promote sustained and balanced growth and prosperity for our nation and all nations. And that’s an opportunity I am determined to seize.
So, thanks for listening and thanks for watching, and to our Jewish friends, who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, have a happy and healthy New Year. Shanah Tovah.
John Allen Muhammad, also known as the D.C. Sniper, is set to be executed on November 12, 2009. Muhammad master-minded the sniper attacks and killings of ten people in 2002.
Lee Boyd Malvo, Muhammad’s teenaged accomplice, is currently serving a life sentence.
Jonathan Sheldon, attorney for John Muhammad, said that he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and Governor Timothy M. Kaine.
Atlanta Judge Orders King Children To The Table To Discuss Parents’ Estate! Resolution Could Be In The Works!
The Kaleidoscope Factor has sadly reported, on several occasions, the bitter feud and court battle taking place between the children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King over certain business affairs. The King children are split into two distinct camps: Martin Luther King III and Bernice King on one side, and younger brother Dexter King, on the other.
Both groups control the estate of one parent, however, the estates of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King are supposed to be ran jointly and in cooperation with the other. Each side of the King battle claim that the other is squandering the parents’ legacy and making shady business deals that could affect both of the estates in the near future. The situation had deteriorated to the point where the remaining King siblings stop communicating with one another totally.
In a courtroom in Atlanta Monday, the sad state of affairs in the King family were finally debated by attorneys for both sides. The Associated Press filed this subsequent story:
ATLANTA — A judge has ordered the surviving children of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King to hold a shareholders’ meeting to discuss their father’s estate.
The Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III sued their brother, Dexter King, last year to force him to open the books of their father’s estate. The lawsuit claimed Dexter King, the estate’s administrator, has refused to provide documents concerning the estate’s operations.
Coretta Scott King died in 2006 and Yolanda King, the Kings’ eldest child, died in 2007 — leaving the three remaining siblings as the sole shareholders and directors of their father’s estate. It is set up as a corporation, but there has not been an annual shareholders’ meeting since 2004.
Dexter King has also sued his sister, who administers their mother’s estate. He has asked a judge to force his sister to turn over Coretta Scott King’s personal papers, including love letters central to a now-defunct $1.4 million book deal.
The siblings’ relationship has deteriorated in the tense climate created by their legal battle.
At least part of the legal battle could be headed to a jury trial next month. At issue would be whether Dexter King acted financially inappropriately in his role as president and chief executive officer of his father’s estate.
But relations between the siblings could be thawing. Martin Luther King III recently visited his brother in California after Dexter King shattered his right femur in a car accident in July, and observers say the siblings have been in talks to resolve their legal disputes.
Dozens of supporters and observers packed the Monday hearing, including Ambassador Andrew Young and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, both of whom worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement and remain close to the King family. Lowery said the siblings have been in mediation trying to work things out, but that he was unsure what the outcome will be.
“Dexter’s the unknown factor,” Lowery said outside of the hearing. “We just don’t know what he’s going to do. It’s hard to tell.”
Dexter King, who lives in California, did not attend Monday’s hearing. Attorneys said he was hospitalized for several weeks after the car accident, has had to use a walker and is not allowed to travel because he cannot sit in one position for long periods of time.
His brother and sister, who live in Atlanta, were in court for the hearing.
Dexter King’s attorneys asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural D. Glanville to block media access to part of Monday’s court proceedings, citing privacy issues related to their client’s finances. Glanville heard arguments from attorneys on behalf of the media, including The Associated Press, and denied the motion.
It is very interesting how Dexter King wants to block the media from having access to the court proceedings based on so-called “privacy issues.” If he was so pressed about keeping his family’s financial business out of the public eye, then maybe Dexter King should have been more forth coming with his siblings about familial business affairs. Perhaps the King siblings can now come together and have some sort of civil conversation that could possibly lead to a quiet resolution and the restoring of family ties.
The way Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King would have wanted it.
President Barack Obama Delivers Strongest Argument Yet Concerning Health Care Reform At AFL – CIO Convention!
Remarks of President Barack Obama—As Prepared for Delivery
AFL-CIO National Convention
September 15, 2009
You know, the White House is pretty nice, but there’s nothing like being back in the House of Labor. Let me begin by recognizing a man who came to Washington to fight for the working men and women of Pennsylvania and who has a distinguished record doing just that, Arlen Specter.
I also want to give my thanks, and the thanks of our nation, to one of the great labor leaders of our time, a man whose entire life has been devoted to working people, who brought new life to a movement, who worked tirelessly on behalf of organized labor, and who will be stepping down tomorrow, your President John Sweeney. John, I know Maureen’s looking forward to seeing a little more of you, and your granddaughter Kennedy’s about to get a whole lot more spoiled by her grandfather.
I know it’s bad luck to congratulate someone before they are officially elected, but I’m willing to take my chances and congratulate the man who will pick up John’s mantle, a son and grandson of Pennsylvania coal miners, a man who worked his way through college to lead the United Mine Workers, my friend, and a fiery advocate for America’s ideals, Rich Trumka. I also want to congratulate the officers coming in with Rich: Arlene, who will be continuing her service, and Liz, who will be making history as the first woman elected Secretary-Treasurer. I’m looking forward to working with all of you.
Being here with all of you is a reminder of what we’re trying to do in Washington and why I’m there in the first place. Because one of the fundamental reasons I ran for President was to stand up for hardworking families; to ease the struggles, lift the hopes, and make possible the dreams of middle class Americans.
Your stories are what drive me each and every day in the White House. Stories I read about in letters, hear about at town halls, and remember from the campaign trail. Stories like the one told by Steve Skvara, a proud member of the United Steelworkers in Indiana. Steve spent 34 years at LTV Steel, until a car accident left him with a disability, and forced him to retire. When the company went broke a couple years later, Steve lost his pension, and his family lost their health care.
Rising to ask a question at the AFL-CIO debate during the campaign, Steve said – and I quote – “Every day of my life, I sit at the kitchen table across from the woman who devoted 36 years of her life to my family, and I can’t afford to pay for her health care.” And as he said this, he got choked up, and his voice started to crack.
Brothers and sisters, this isn’t just about Steve; it’s about all of us. Because when hardworking Americans like Steve succeed – that’s when organized labor succeeds. And when organized labor succeeds – that’s when our middle class succeeds. And when our middle class succeeds – that’s when the United States of America succeeds.
For over half a century, the success of America has been built on the success of our middle class. It was the creation of the middle class that lifted this nation up in the wake of a great depression. It was the expansion of the middle class that opened the doors of opportunity to millions more. It was a strong middle class that powered American industries, propelled America’s economy, and made the 20th Century the first American Century.
And the fundamental test of our time is whether we will heed this lesson; whether we will let America become a nation of the very rich and the very poor, of the haves and the have-nots; or whether we will remain true to the promise of this country and build a future where the success of all of us is built on the success of each of us.
That’s the future I want to build. That’s the future the AFL-CIO wants to build. That’s the future the American people want to build. And that’s the future we’ve been working to build from the moment I took office.
At the time, folks were fearing the collapse of our entire financial system. Our economy was shedding about 700,000 jobs a month. Our credit market was frozen and folks couldn’t get the home loans, car loans, and student loans they needed. What was a deep recession threatened to become a Great Depression.
That’s why we acted boldly and swiftly to pass an unprecedented economic Recovery Act. It’s a plan that didn’t include any of the usual Washington earmarks or pork-barrel spending. But what it did include was a guarantee to uphold Davis Bacon and pay prevailing wages.
Because of the Recovery Act, we’re keeping a campaign promise I made by giving 95% of working Americans a tax cut – a tax cut that will benefit nearly 5 million families in Pennsylvania. We increased and extended unemployment insurance to 12 million Americans – including hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. And we are putting Americans to work across this country rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and waterways with the largest investment in our infrastructure since Eisenhower created the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. All in all, many middle class families will see their incomes go up by about $3,000 because of the Recovery Act, helping them get back much of what they may have lost due to this recession.
So, while I know times are still tough for working people, while I know too many folks are still looking for work or worried they’ll be the next ones let go, the Recovery Act is making a difference. We have stopped our economic freefall. That is something everyone can agree on.
But the fact is, the problems in our economy preceded this economic crisis. Just last week, a Census report came out showing that in 2008, before this downturn, family income fell to its lowest point in over a decade; and more families slid into poverty. That is unacceptable. And I refuse to let America go back to the culture of irresponsibility that made it possible; back to an economy with soaring CEO salaries and shrinking middle class incomes; back to the days when banks made reckless decisions that hurt Wall Street and Main Street alike. Going back to those days would be bad for unions, bad for the middle class, and bad for the United States of America.
We cannot afford to go back – we must move forward. That’s why we need to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. By creating the jobs of the future. By reforming our health care system. By laying down tough rules of the road to protect consumers from abuse; let markets function fairly and freely; and ensure that we never experience another crisis like this again.
That’s how we’ll build an economy that works for working Americans. That’s how we’ll help our children climb higher than we did. And that’s how we’ll grow our great American middle class.
We’ll grow our middle class with policies that benefit you, the American worker – and I’ve set up a Middle Class Task Force to do just that, run by my outstanding Vice President, that scrappy kid from Scranton, Joe Biden.
We’ll grow our middle class by building a strong labor movement. That’s why I named Hilda Solis, the daughter of union members, as our new Labor Secretary. Hilda and I know that whether we’re in good economic times or bad, labor is not the problem – labor is part of the solution.
That’s why we’ve begun reversing and replacing old anti-labor Executive Orders and policies with ones that protect your benefits; protect your safety; and protect your rights to organizing and collective bargaining. That’s why the very first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Act to uphold the basic principle of equal pay for equal work. And that’s why I stand behind the Employee Free Choice Act – because if a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union.
We’ll grow our middle class by creating jobs for Americans who want one – not just any jobs, but jobs with good wages, jobs with good benefits. Jobs that give a person the satisfaction of knowing they’ll meet their responsibilities to themselves and their families. Jobs that are not just a source of income, but a source of self-respect. Every American deserves that much.
Earlier today, I visited a GM plant in Youngstown, Ohio that is rehiring about 1,000 workers to make the cars of tomorrow. That’s a sign of life in our auto industry, and I’m pleased to see it. But I don’t just want to see jobs returning to our auto industry, I want to see them being created across this country. That’s why we’re investing in a clean energy economy that will free America from the grip of foreign oil and create millions of new green jobs that can’t be outsourced. And that’s why I’ve named a new point person to jumpstart American manufacturing so that we can make “Made in America” not just a saying, but a reality.
We’ll grow our middle class by doing a better job educating our sons and daughters. It was the GI Bill that helped strengthen the middle class in the 20th century, and our generation deserves the same kind of commitment. That’s why we’ve begun improving standards, holding ourselves more accountable, making college and advanced training more affordable, and offering students a complete and competitive education, from the cradle to the classroom, from college through a career. That’s how we’ll prepare every child in America to outcompete any worker in the world.
And we’ll grow our middle class by finally providing quality, affordable health insurance in this country. Few have fought for this cause harder, and few have championed it longer than you, our brothers and sisters in organized labor. You’re making phone calls, knocking on doors, and showing up at rallies – because you know why this is so important. You know this isn’t just about the millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance, it’s about the hundreds of millions more who do; Americans who worry that they’ll lose their insurance if they lose their job; who fear their coverage will be denied because of a pre-existing condition; who know that one accident or illness could mean financial ruin.
In fact, a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation was released today showing that family premiums rose more than 130% over the last ten years, and now average over $13,000 a year – the highest amount on record.
When are we going to stop this? When are we going to say enough is enough? How many more workers have to lose their coverage? How many more families have to go into the red for a sick loved one? We have talked this issue to death year after year, decade after decade. And I am here to say the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to deliver on health insurance reform.
The plan I announced will offer more security and stability to Americans who have insurance. It will offer insurance to Americans who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.
Here is what you need to know. If you already have health insurance through your job, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change your coverage or your doctor. Let me repeat: Nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor.
What this plan will do is make your insurance work better for you. It will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. It will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick, or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on how much coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses – because in the United States of America, nobody should go broke because they got sick.
And insurance companies will be required to cover, at no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer or colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, it saves lives.
So, that’s what we’ll offer folks who already have health insurance – more stability and more security. For the tens of millions of American citizens who don’t have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you affordable choices. We’ll do this with a new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for an affordable health insurance plan that works for them.
Because there will be one big group, these uninsured Americans will have the leverage to drive down costs and get a better deal than they get right now. That’s how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It’s how everyone in Congress gets affordable insurance. And it’s time to give every American the same opportunity.
I’ve also said that one of the options in this exchange should be a public option. Let me be clear: it would just be an option. No one would be forced to choose it. No one with insurance would be affected by it. But what it would do is offer Americans more choices, promote real competition, and put pressure on private insurers to make their policies affordable and treat their customers better.
Now, when you’re talking with your friends and neighbors, they might say, Well, that all sounds pretty good, but how are you going to pay for it? And that’s a legitimate question. So, let me try and answer it. The plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years. That’s less than we’ve spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed during the previous administration; wars and tax cuts that were not paid for and ballooned our deficits to record levels.
We will not make that mistake again. We will not pay for health insurance reform by adding to our deficits – I will not sign a bill that adds a dime to our deficits, either now or in the future.
We will pay for it by eliminating hundreds of billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse, including subsidies for insurance companies that pad their profits but don’t improve care. We’ll also set up a commission of doctors and medical experts to encourage the adoption of common sense best practices that can further reduce costs and raise quality in the years ahead. That’s how we’ll pay for most of this plan – by using money that’s already being spent, but spent badly.
So, don’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut. That will never happen on my watch. We will protect Medicare so it’s a safety net our seniors can count on – today, tomorrow, and forever. Not a dollar from the Medicare Trust Fund will be used to pay for this plan – not a dollar.
These are the reforms I’m proposing. These are the reforms labor has been championing. These are the reforms the American people need. And these are the reforms I intend to sign into law.
Quality, affordable health insurance. A world-class education. Good jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. A strong labor movement. That’s how we’ll lift up hardworking families. That’s how we’ll grow our middle class. That’s how we’ll put opportunity within reach in the United States of America.
The battle for opportunity has always been fought in places like Pennsylvania. It was here that Pittsburgh railroad workers rose up in a great strike. It was here that Homestead steelworkers took on Pinkerton Guards at Carnegie’s mill. And it was here that something happened in a town called Aliquippa.
It was a tough place for workers in the 1930s, “a benevolent dictatorship,” said a local steel boss. Labor had no rights. The foreman’s whim ruled the day. And the company hired workers from different lands and different races – the better to keep them divided, it was thought at the time.
But despite threats and harassment; despite seeing organizers fired and driven out of town; these steelworkers came together – Serb and Croat, Italian and Pole, Irish and Greek, kin of Alabama slaves and sons of Pennsylvania coal miners. And they took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, securing the right to organize up and down the Ohio River Valley, and all across America.
And I know that if America can come together like Aliquippa – and rise above barriers of faith and race, region and party – then we will not only make life better for steelworkers like Steve Skvara in Indiana, and not only make life better for members of the AFL-CIO, but we will make possible the dreams of middle class families and make real the promise of the United States of America. Thank you.