UNITED NATIONS — President Barack Obama told world leaders today that attacks on U.S. citizens in Libya “were attacks on America,” and he called on them to join in confronting the root causes of the rage across the Muslim world.
“I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders, in all countries, to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism,” Obama said in a speech to the annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly.
Obama also condemned the anti-Muslim video that helped spark the recent attacks, calling it “cruel and disgusting.” But he strongly defended the U.S. Constitution’s protection of the freedom of expression, “even views that we profoundly disagree with.”
With U.S. campaign politics shadowing every word, Obama also warned that time to peacefully curb the Iranian nuclear crisis is running out.
He said there is “still time and space” to resolve the issue through diplomacy. But that time is not unlimited.
“Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the unraveling of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty,” he said.
Obama mentioned the slain U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, several times in his address.
“Today, we must declare that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens and not by his killers. Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United nations,” he said.
Turning to the rising violence in Syria, Obama told the U.N. delegates, “The future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people. If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings. We must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence.”
“Together, we must stand with those Syrians who believe in a different vision — a Syria that is united and inclusive, where children don’t need to fear their own government and all Syrians have a say in how they are governed— Sunnis and Alawites, Kurds and Christians.”