Posted by Wordsmith on 23 September, 2009 at 11:34 pm. 5 comments already!

Who was President Obama trying to appeal to in his speech? You’ll never find “a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” than some of those nations who make up the UN General Assembly.

Niles Gardiner writing for the Telegraph (contrast this to the opening paragraph of this editorial in the Guardian), nails it, describing Obama’s UN speech today as a display of soft power in the face of brutal enemies, thereby failing to advance American interests onto the world stage.

It’s always a bad sign when a US president gets several rounds of heavy applause at the UN General Assembly, as Barack Obama did this morning in New York. Needless to say, the loudest cheers from the gathering of world leaders came when he condemned the actions of a close US ally, Israel, in continuing to build settlements in the West Bank. You can always rely on attacks on the Israelis to generate the biggest roars of approval at any meeting of the United Nations, and Obama dutifully obliged.

The Assembly also mightily cheered Obama’s boast that the United States no longer condones “torture” (as if it ever did), a blatantly political swipe at the interrogation techniques of the previous government, which most Americans happen to back. The president’s decision to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, a basket case of an organization that includes some of the world’s worst tyrannies, was also greeted warmly.

Needless to say, when the president briefly brought up the need for greater international cooperation over Afghanistan, or spoke about the threat posed by al-Qaeda – or “violent extremists” as he calls them – there was stony silence.

Overall this was a staggeringly naïve speech by President Obama, with Woodstock-style utterances like “I will not waver in my pursuit of peace” or “the interests of peoples and nations are shared.” All that was missing was a conga of hippies dancing through the aisles with a rousing rendition of “Kumbaya”.

Will president Obama be known, not so much for the disaster of his domestic policies, but for the disaster that is his foreign policy?

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