Obama to urge UN to confront roots of Muslim rage

The President will ask the world to focus on "the hopes we hold in common"

Topics: Islam, United Nations, Barack Obama, Iran, From the Wires, ,

NEW YORK (AP) — Campaign politics shadowing every word, President Barack Obama on Tuesday will challenge the world to confront the root causes of rage exploding across the Muslim world, calling it a defining choice “between the forces that would drive us apart and the hopes we hold in common.”

Obama will step before the United Nations General Assembly and declare that the United States will not shrink from its role in troubled, transitioning nations despite the killing of four Americans in Libya, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, and more than 50 people total in violence linked at least in part to an anti-Muslim film.

Obama will also to seek to show U.S. resolve in preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, a menacing issue that has undermined White House relations with Israel’s leadership.

In his final international address before the November election, Obama will stand up for democratic values on a stage afforded to presidents, not presidential challengers. He will use it to try to boost his political standing without ever mentioning Republican opponent Mitt Romney.

Were there any doubt that the U.S. presidential campaign hung heavy over Obama’s speech, Romney shredded it by assailing Obama’s foreign affairs leadership on the eve of the president’s speech. Now comes Obama’s chance to assert his world vision on his terms.

“Today, we must affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers,” Obama said of the U.S. ambassador, who was killed during an assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that the White House has deemed a terrorist attack. “Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.”

The White House released excerpts in advance of Obama’s midmorning speech.

Obama’s comments will be scrutinized around the globe and by the gathering of presidents and prime ministers in the famed United Nations hall, given the tumult, terrorism, nuclear threats and poverty that bind so many nations. His emphasis will be on the unrest in the Muslim world and on Iran, whose disputed nuclear ambitions have unnerved much of the world and caused tension between the United States and longstanding ally Israel over whether Obama has forcefully defined his breaking point for military action.



“Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” Obama says in his speech. He adds: “That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

That language remains as specific as Obama will publicly describe his “red line” for military intervention.

Setting a sharp political context for the speech, Romney went on the offensive Monday.

“This is time for a president who will shape events in the Middle East, not just be merciful or be at the mercy of the events,” Romney said. Focusing on the killing of Stevens and mass bloodshed in Syria, Romney repeatedly ridiculed Obama’s comment that nations moving toward democracy after the Arab Spring face “bumps in the road.”

That prompted White House spokesman Jay Carney to fire back at Romney: “There is a certain rather desperate attempt to grasp at words and phrases here to find political advantage, and in this case that’s profoundly offensive.”

Obama’s activities at the United Nations say plenty, too: There are not many of them. Campaigning is his imperative.

He is skipping the private meetings with key allies that a U.S. president typically schedules when the whole international community comes to New York. The president will spend only 24 hours in New York in total this time, and he spent some of it Monday to appear on “The View,” giving a talk show interview intended to sell his election pitch to a big TV audience.

The dominant theme of Obama’s U.N. speech will be his response to the protests raging in places across the Middle East and North Africa. As he has for days, Obama will condemn the violence, defend democratic principles of free speech and promise no U.S. withdrawal of outreach.

Much of the growing ire is aimed at the United States because of anti-Islam film produced in this country, but the White House has now deemed the attack on its consulate in Libya a “terrorist attack” and has not ruled out the possibility it was premeditated. Obama now says it “wasn’t just a mob action.”

“There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents,” Obama says in the speech excerpts. “There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.”

In a preview of Obama’s speech, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed Monday for Muslims to show “dignity” as they protest the film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

“Dignity does not come from avenging insults,” she said in a speech to her husband’s Clinton Global Initiative. Romney and Obama were to speak there as well on Tuesday.

The secretary of state was also standing in for Obama, meeting with the presidents of Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Pakistan. She was due later in the week to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

For U.S. presidents, the yearly United Nations address is always laced with domestic politics even though the speeches are scripted without campaign references. Wars and the failed attempts at Mideast peace have dominated in recent years.

Romney’s campaign made the campaign linkage directly Monday.

“On the eve of his United Nations address, President Obama’s foreign policy is in disarray,” spokesman Ryan Williams said. “As president, Mitt Romney will repair our relationships abroad and create a safer, more secure nation.”

Polling shows Obama has a clear edge over Romney when voters are asked who they think is a stronger leader and would better protect the country.

__

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this story.

__

Follow Ben Feller at http://www.twitter.com/benfellerdc

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>