tv Jansing and Co. MSNBC May 28, 2014 7:00am-8:01am PDT
activist and writer and poet ma maya angel jegelou has died. she is an inspiration to millions, and here is nbc's rehema ellis. >> ladies and gentlemen, maya an gel lieu. >> best selling author and prolific poet. >> i wrote this piece for every human being on earth. >> and so much more. >> maya angelou was activist, educator, and three-time grammy winner and nominated for pulitzer, emmy for her ground-breaking work in the series "roots." her life struggles fueled her work. >> you can stumble and fall and fail and somehow still miraculously rise and go on. >> born? st. louis, missouri n 1928, her childhood was marked bisexual abuse, and traumatized, she refused to speak for six years, and a story she told in "i know why the caged bird sings."
and her h first big break came as a singer in the 1950s. she was committed to bridging differences, working alongside both malcolm x and dr. martin luther king. >> i want to see some honesty, some fair play. i want to see kindness and justice. >> reporter: she made poetry cool in the movies. >> i'm a woman, phenomenally. >> reporter: and only the second poet in history invited to compose an inaugural poem. >> on the pulse of this new day, you may have the grace to look up and out and say simply very simply with hope good morning. >> reporter: her philosophy was when you get, give. when you learn, teach. so she treated the world as her classroom. ♪ let it shine ♪ let it shine everywhere i go! ♪ let it shine
♪ let it shine, america >> oprah called her a sister friend. >> she is one of the greatest influences in my entire life. >> reporter: and the obamas considered her a she-ro. >> she has encountered countless suffering in her lifetime. >> and she turned her life into a triumphant within. >> speak the word aloud and speak the word peace. look at the world and speak the word aloud, peace. we look at ourselves and then into the each other, and speak the word aloud, peace, my brother. peace, my sister. peace, my soul. peace. >> reporter: rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. i want to bring in the host of msnbc's host "the report" joy reid, and reverend al sharpton host of msnbc's "politics
nation." and joy, that poem speaks for itself, and i was there on the inauguration the moment she read that poem, and it was extraordinary, and thrilling moment. it would be difficult to categorize her, but renaissance woman in addition to icon and great literary icon starts the process. >> yeah, and i they for me growing up, maya angelou was sort of what we as like a young black girl thought of or hoped would be the grown-up me. she was a great writer, because she captured the essence of what it meant to grow up in this country as a young black woman. she tells the story of her childhood in stamps, arkansas, and this rural childhood in a lot of ways a difficult and horrific experience, right thashgts she had in terms of the race, gender, and in terms of the whole gamut of it. but she captured something sort of indescribable about being a
black woman in this country, and in a different time, but so many of us related to her. just as almost a mother or grandmother, and again, as i said, the grown-up sensibility of who we hoped to be one day. >> she wrote first autobiography "i know why the caged bird sings" which is an enormous best seller which told the life of her from age 17, but the richness of her is extraordin y extraordinary. >> as a young person, i read that book at 14 or 15, and close to the age that she is chronicling, and so moving and important and it is one of the book books that you never forget and we were assigned to read it in school, but a pleasure to read it on my own, because i wanted to. she had compelling use of the language and compelling voice. i am really, railly sad, profoundly, because i never met her, but she was somebody that you felt that you knew. >> i did meet her, and i interviewed her, and she is one of those people who had the rare gifts that when you were sitting with her, you could not take
your eyes off of her, but more than that, she had that power to make you feel like you were the only person who exist ed ed in world. she was totally engaged in the moment in the conversation. with this, which is essentially in day and age is a rarity. >> and not only the gift of language, but the gift of movement. she was a woman who trained as a dancer with alvin ailey and something about her was live and fluid and fluid, and not only the command of the language which i profoundly respected about her, but she, herself, was poetic in the motion, the way she spoke and the way she delivered her own words. she was an extraordinary sort of symbol and sort of entity that it is hard to imagine her being gone. >> reverend al who is on the phone now, and she worked with malcolm x, and she worked with martin luther king jr. and tell us about maya angelou in the broader civil rights context. >> well, she was a
quintessential renaissance woman, and part of that was activism. she not only was a literary giant. she was one of the few literary people who actually put feet to the words. she would be at the rallies and be at various places to lend her presence, but more importantly, she'd be in the room questioning about the role of women, questioning about the being a more expansive in terms of where our movement should go and where we should relate to people of different levels of being discriminated against. so she was not one that was not regarded, respected and heard from by leadership. you know, i have been in various circles that she was there, and was always respected and any time i was in her presence, she
was overwhelming. she was the kind of person whose smile could radiate the room. and at the same time, she would frown if she disagreed with something, and it would dam penn the room. no one didn't react when you were in the presence of maya angelou, and she was a t tremendous woman and i can't think of anyone who has her physical presence in terms of what she is in the room, you feel her. >> and reverend al sharpton, well said. thank you. joy reid, thank you as well. we will have more on maya angelou, her life and legacy later on in the hour. turning now to west point, new york, where more than 1,000 cadets graduate to dday and receive commissions as second lieutenants in the u.s. army, and in moments, president obama will give the commencement address to the next generation of the military and unveil his vision of the military's role in afghanistan and iraq. the chairman of the chiefs of
staff gave some look to his vision. >> coming in the next year, afghans will be responsible for their security of their country. in other words, it is time to turn the page on a decade in which so much of the foreign policy was focused on the wars in afghanistan and iraq. when i took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm's w way. by the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000. >> 100,000 troops were in afghanistan after the 2009 surge. since november of 2001, more than 2,300 americans have been killed in afghanistan, and 20,000 wounded in action nearly.
there have been ten medal of honor recipients and then of course, there is the price tag. by one recent estimate three quarters of a trillion dollars and when you factor in long term care and disability benefits for the wounded and their familyies that number of course, much, much higher. joining me live from west point, msnbc military analyst and medal of honor recipient retired army colonel jack jacobs and also joined by msnbc analyst and retired four-star general barry mccaffery, and also washington post correspondent anne gearan. and let me start with you, jack jacobs, the president says that the new policy is going to be interventionist, but not isolationist or unilateral. what does that mean today?
>> well, he is going to reiterate exactly what he said the other day, and to talk about his success in withdrawing the troops from the middle east. but, he is going to have to do a much better job of articulating what our objectives really are, what are strategic imperatives are. it is one thing to say we will pivot toward asia, but another thing to have an impact on the conflicts that are arising there. it is one thing to say we are withdrawing from afghanistan, but something else to demonstrate that 9,800 american troops are going to be able to train afghans so they can can take care of themselves in the short space of about two years. so i think that he has got a lot to demonstrate in terms of being a able to say, this is what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, and that is what everybody is waiting to hear. >> and of course, ending the wars in iraq and afghanistan was one of president obama's top campaign promises, and this morning, criticism from both the
left and the right about this withdrawal plan. a republican senator lindsey graham sent out a tweet saying that the taliban and the al qaeda will welcome this decision, and the afghans will be devastated with this decision. and buck mckeyon says that holding the mission to an arbitrary egg-timer does not make a lick of sense strategically. are the concerns justified, colonel? are you satisfied with the situation on the ground and what you read from it? >> well, i think that it is appropriate for the president to apply a political calculus to this issue. 22,000 killed and wounded, and you know, as you mentioned over $600 billion, and the country does not support continuous engagement in the country, and it is hard to imagine why if we kept 10,000 there four years things would change dramatically, so i support what he is doing. i do believe that in a global conte context, and i think that jack jacobs alludes to this that we
are seeing a weakened military and withdrawing from nato engagement in western europe, and we talked about pivoting to the pacific, but there is no money in air and naval power to do that. so we have mixed signals on the global arena. >> there is a new york times editorial on this this morning, criticizing the pace of withdrawal. i want to read part of it. it is reasonable to ask how two more years of a sizable american troop presence, which one official said could cost $20 billion in 2015 will advance a stable afghan in the way that 20 years of war and 100,000 troops deployed there could not complete. how tricky for the administration to navigate the political and the logistical aspects of this? >> well, chris, it is very, very difficult, and you will see it in every bit of the announcement yesterday and in what the president will say today. it is a compromise. he would on one hand, i think, he would like to have ended the
war in afghanistan already. they have decided on the slow descent with what his critics are calling arbitrary time periods. that is the criticism that you heard this morning about an egg-timer, and some specific numbers. by such and such a date, we will be down to this date and that date down to another number. the number that matters the most to the president is that by the end of his presidency, he will be able to say that he ended both the wars in iraq and afghanistan, and brought all of but a normal amount of troops to guard and protect an embassy from afghanistan, america's longest war. >> ands a we wait for the president's arrival at the west point graduation, and the foreign policy speech that is also a commencement address, we will take a quick break and come back with the panel after this. ♪ all right, never mind doesn't matter. this is a classic. what does an alien seamstress sew with? a space needle! ♪ foghorn sounds loudly continuously ♪
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is is going to give the commencement address. i want to bring back in colonel jack jacobs, and general mccaffery, an anne gearan. and we mentioned nearly 1,000 cadets here soon to be second lieutenants and talk about the landscape they are facing as 2nd lieutenants in the u.s. military. >> well, it is different are the the landscape i faced when i became a 2nd lieutenant. we were at the beginning of a 10-year war in vietnam, millions of young men and women fought in vietnam, and it was a long and painful experiment adventure. these young lieutenants are going to enter into the army much small, and more dependent on technology, and all volunteer, and no draftees and facing not a war, but a very large number. a very difficult and fragment e
threats around the world to our peace and security and that of our allies. it is much more complicated for them. >> and for example, general, the president has announced that he will ask can congress to support a new $5 billion partnership for the military. what does that say, general mccaffery? >> well, if we cannot backup the u.s. aid, it is hard to imagine that we are effective in a world arena. the numbers are so arbitrary and political numbers. if we stay in afghanistan on a low-level interim basis the right answer is 35,000 troops and air power and logistics and hospitals and none of which exists. but again, returning to what these young officers in another hour will face, and by the way, they are spectacular young
people, and 1,000 cadets, and i have given three lectures to the class, and 800 team captains, and almost half of them class presidents or 12,000 of them applied, and 1,000 got in, and they are wonderful young women and men going out to face uncertain future. >> and general, the training, how different is the training that they got than you did? >> it is immeasurably more sophisticated. i give a talk where i compare the class of 1964 to 2014. with we had three black ka e debts and handful of hispanics and no women, and three foreigners, and these young people are growing up in a very sophisticated environment. with majors, academic majors, and they will get out in the world every summer, and they are extremely well prepared, but they are also intellectually gifted, physically fit, and the kindest kids that you have ever met. >> and anne, to pick up on what
you were saying about the complications faced by this administration as it makes these decisions, and what the general just said about the very difficult calculus about diplomacy and the military might, and where is that level to bakt uck it up? >> well, one of the things that he is likely to say to the group of cadets is that they face a vastly different world even than the one that the soldiers fought in the beginning of the wars in afghanistan. this is now an era in which terrorism is considered the primary threat and not a land war or air war and not the things that you think of going to west point to learn how to do. and so, they are really entering a very different battlefield, and a lot of it is going to be technology, and a lot of it is going to be sitting at a desk, and a lot of it is going to be a different environment, and even then, the last several years of mud and take the hillside in afghanistan, the president is
signaling clearly that those days are over and that american military intervention is going to be selective and middle path between us as he says interventionism on one side and unilateralism on the other. that all says small. >> and i think that colonel jacobs, as we look ahead to what the cadets are facing, it is also important to look at those who sacrificed their lives and who in many cases came home seriously injured and who gave up years of their lives to fight in the battlefields, and let's talk about afghanistan in particular where there is an upcoming election which is a good sign after, i think, what could be definitely called corrupt governance, but what is the status of afghanistan and what ultimately will some of the folks who were over there fighting or the families of those who gave their lives see that they accomplished there? >> well, it is a very difficult situation over there, and i
can't see how it can get a lot better. don't forget, it is a fragmented country, and the governance from kabul no matter who is there, that region doesn't reach all of the way to the border. and we have difficult areas down the south, and difficult areas against the border with pakis n pakistan. tough economic problems no matter how much money we give them. it is difficult to see how in fact, the united states can train sufficient numbers of afghans to defend themselves adequately by the time we get up to leave permanently. so it is going to be tough-go g fing for the afghans, but for the men and women who have served there, and for their friends who have had their friends sacrifice, the fact of the matter is that they still feel very, very good about what they have been able to ak kcome plish for the united states. >> jack jacobs, thank you. now the president. >> thank you. thank you, general mccaslin for
that kind introduction, and to general clark, and the faculty and staff at west point, you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution, and outstanding mentors for the newest officers in the united states army. i'd like to acknowledge the army's leadership, general mchugh, secretary deonio and jack reid who was an aofficer here as well, and the class of 2014, i congratulate you on taking your place on the long gray line. among you is the first all female command team. and you also have a rhodes
scholar. josh herbeck proves that west point accuracy extends beyond the three-point line. and to the entire class, let me reassure you in the final hours here at west point, and as commander in cheefshgs i hereby absolve all cadets that are on restriction for all minor offenses. [ applause ] let me just add that nobody did that for me when i was in school. i know you join me in extend ing a word of thanks to your families. joe demoss whose son james is graduating spoke for a whole lot of parents when he wrote me a letter about the sacrifices that you have made.
deep insooide, he wrote, we wan to explode with pride at what they are committing to do in the service of our kcountry. like several graduates, james is a combat veteran. i would ask all of us here today to stand and pay tribute not only to the veterans among us, but to the more than 2.5 million americans who have served in iraq and afghanistan as well as their families.
this is a particular useful time for america to reflect on those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. a few days after memorial day, you are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in iraq or afghanist afghanistan. [ applause ] when i first spoke at west point in 2009, we still had more than 100,000 troops in iraq. we were preparing to surge in afghanistan. our counter terrorism efforts were focused on al qaeda's core lead leadership, and those who carried out the 9/11 attacks,
and our nation was just beginning a long climb out of the worst economic crisis since the greataeeat depression. 4 1/2 years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed. we have removed our troops from iraq. weare winding down our war in afghanistan. al qaeda's leadership on the border between pakistan and afghanistan has been decimated and osama bin laden is no more. [ applause ] and through it a all we have refocused our investments in what has always been a key source of american strength, a growing economy, that can provide opportunity for everybody who is willing to work hard and take responsibility here at home. in fact, by most measures, america has rarely been stronger
relative to the rest of the world. those who argue otherwise, who suggest that america is in decline or has seen the global leadership slip away are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. think about it. our military has no fear. the odds of a direct attack by other nations are at a new low. meanwhile, the economy remains the most dynamic on earth. the businesses here are the most innovative. each year, we grow more energy independent. from europe to asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivaled in the history of nations.
america continues to attract striving immigrants. the values of the founding inspire spire leaders in parliaments and public squares around the globe. when a typhoon hits the philippines or schoolgirls are kidnapped in nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in ukraine, it is america that the world looks to for help. [ applause ] so the united states is and remains the one indispensable nation. that has been true for the centuries past and it will be for the century to come. but the world is changing with
accelerating speed. this presents opportunity, but also new dangers. we all know all too well after 9/11 how technology and globalization has put power once reserved for state s s in the hs of individuals, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm. russia's aggression toward former soviet states unnerves capitals in europe while china's economic rise and reach worries the neighbors. from brazil to india, the rising middle-classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global form forums. even as developing nations embrace democracies and economies, 24-hour news and social mediaic m imakes it impoe
to ignore failed states and popular uprisings that might have received passing notice a generation ago. it will be your generation's task to respond to this new world. the question we face, the question that each of you will face is not whether america will lead, but how we will lead. not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but to extend peace and prosperity around the globe. now, this question isn't new. at least since george washington served as commander in chief,
there have been those who warned against foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic well-being. today, according to self-described realists, conflicts in syria or ukraine or the central afghan republic are not ours to solve. and not surprisingly after cost costly wars and continuing chals here at home, that view is shared by many americans. a different view from interventionists from the left and the right says that we ignore these conflicts at our own peril, that america's willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and america's failure to act in the face of syrian brutality or the russian provocations not only bothers the conscious, but it
invites aggression in the future. and each side can point to history to support its claims. but i believe nooeither view fuy speaks to the demands of this moment. it is absolutely true that in the 21st century, american isolationism is not an option. we don't have a choice to ignore what happens beyond our borders. if nuclear materiels are not secure, that poses a danger to american cities. as the syrian civil wars spills across borders the capacity of battle-hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases. regional aggression that goes unchecked whether in southern ukraine or the south china sea or anywhere else in the world
will ultimately impact our allies and it could draw in our military. we can't ignore what happens beyond our boundaries. and beyond these narrow rash nails, i believe that we have a real state, abiding self-interests to ensure that our children and grandchildren are growing up in a world where schoolchildren are not kidnapped an individuals are not slaughtered because of tribe or faith or political belief. i believe that a world that has greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative, but it also helps to keep us safe. but to say that we have an interest in freedom beyond the borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution. since world war ii, some of the
most costly mistakes came not from the restraint, but from the willingness to rush into military ventures without thinking through the consequences and building international support and legitimacy about the action and without leveling with the american people about the sacrifices required. tough talk draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans. as general eisenhower, someone with hard-earned knowledge on this subject, said at this commen commencement ceremony in 1947, war is mankind's most tragic and stupid folly. to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a crime against
all men. like eisenhower, this generation of men and women in uniform know all too well the wages of war, and that includes those of you here at west point. four of the service members who stood in the audience when i announced the surge of the forces in afghanistan gave their lives in that effort. a lot more were wounded. i believe america's security demanded those deployments. but i am haunted by those deaths. i am haunted by those wounds. i would betray my duty to you and to the country we love if i ever sent you into harm's way simply because i saw a problem so somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed. or because i was worried about critics who think that military intervention is the only way for america to avoid looking weak.
here's my bottom line -- america must always lead on the world stage. if we don't, no one else will. the military ta that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership. but u.s. military action cannot be the only or even primary component of our leadership in ev every instance. and because the cost associated with military action is so high, you should expect every civilian leader and especially your commander in chief to be clear how that awesome power should be used. so let me spend the rest of my time describing my vision for
how the united states of america and our military should lead in the years to come. for you will be part of that leadership. fir first, let he repeat a principle that i put forward in the outset of my presidency. the united states will use military force unilaterally when necessary when our core inter t interests demand it, when our people are threatened, when our livelihoods are at stake, and when the security of our allies is in danger. in these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportionate and effective and just. international opinion matters. but america should never ask r
permission to protect our people, our homeland or our way of life. [ applause ] on the other hand, when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the united states, and when such issues are at stake, and when the crises arise that stir our conscious or push the world in a more dangerous direction, but do not directly threaten us, then the threshold for the military action must be higher. in such circumstances, we should not go it alone. instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action, and we have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and sanctions and isolation.
appeals to international law, and if just necessary and effective multi lateral military acti action. in such circumstances, we have to work with others, because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained. less likely to lead to costly mistakes. this leads to my second point, for the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to america at home and abroad remains terroris terrorism, but a strategy that includes invading every country that involves terrorism and terrorists is nooeither sustainable and is naive. we must expand on the
experiences of the successes in iraq and afghanistan and to partner in the areas where the terrorist strategy has a foothold, and a strategy that no longer comes from the al qaeda leadership, but it comes from the decentralized al qaeda affiliates and extremists, and many of them with agendas focussed in the countries where they operate, and this lessens the possibilities of the large-scale can 9/11 attacks against the homeland, but it heightens the danger of u.s. personnel overseas being attacked as we saw in benghazi, and it heightens the danger to less defensible targets as we saw in a shopping mall in nairo nairobi. and so we have to develop a strategy that matches this
diffuse threat, one that expands our reach without sending forces that the stretch our military too thin or stir up local resentment. we need partners to fight terrorists alongside us. and empowering partners is a large part of what we have done, and what we are currently doing in afghanistan. together with the allies, america struck huge blows against al qaeda corps and pushed back against the insurgency that threatened to sustain the country, but this depends on a strategy with training afghans and that is why we trained hundreds of thousands of afghan soldiers and police. earlier in the spring, those forces, those afghan forces secured an election in which the afghans voted for the first democratic transfer of power in their history. and at the end of this year, a new afghan president will be in
office. america's combat mission will be over. now -- [ applause ] as we move to the train and advisement in afghanistan, the reduced presence there allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the middle east and north africa. so earlier this year, i asked the national security team to develop a plan for network of partnerships from south asia to sahil. and to this day, we are counting on congress to support an tie terrorism fund to design to train and facilitate capacity in partnership on the front line. the resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions. including training security forces in yemen who have gone on
the offensive against al qaeda, supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in somalia, and working with european allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in libya, and facilitating the french operations in mali. a critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in syria. as frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers there, no military solution that can e m eliminate the terrible suffering any time soon. as president, i made a decision that we should not put american troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian war. i believe that is the right decision. but it does not mean that we should not help the syrian people stand up to a dictator who bombs and starves his own people.
in helping those who fight for the right to ensure their own syrian future, we also push back against the extremists who are finding safe haven in the chaos. so with to a additional resources that i am announcing to today, we will step up the efforts to support syria's neighbors, jordan and lebanon, turkey and iraq, as they contend with the refugees and confront the terrorists working across syria's borders. i will work with congress to ramp up support for those who offer the best alternatives to terrorists and brutal dictators, and we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in the arab world to push for a political resolution to the crisis and make sure that those countries are not just the united states contributing their fair share to support the syrian
people. let me make one final point about our efforts against terrorism. the partnerships that i have described do not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. when we have actionable intelligence, that is what we do. through capture operations like the one that brought a terrorist involved in the plot to bomb our embassies in 1998 to face justice or drone strikes like those we have carried out in yemen and somalia. there are times when those actions are necessary. but as i said last year, in taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. that means taking strikes only
when we face a continuing imminent threat and only when there is no certainty that there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. for our actions should meet a s simple test. we must not create more enemies than we take off of the battlefield. i also believe that we must be more transparent about both the basis of the counter terrorism ak manner in which they are carried out. we have to be able to explain them publicly, whether it is drone strikes or training partners. i will increasingly turn to our mi military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts. our intelligence community has done outstanding work, and we are have to continue to protect sources and efforts, but when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, with we face terrorist propaganda and
international suspicion, and erode the legitimacy of our partners and their people, and reduce accountability in our own government. this issue of transparency is directly relevant to a third aspect of american leadership, and that is our effort to strengthen and enforce international order. after world war ii, america had the wisdom to shape the institutions to keep the peace and support human progress from the united nations to the world bank and imf. these institutions are not perfect, but they have been a force multiplier. they reduce the need for unilateral american action, an increased restraint among other nations. now, just as the world has
changed, this architecture must change as well. at the height of the cold war president kennedy spoke about the need of a peace based upon a gradual evolution in human institution institutions and evolving the institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of american leadership. now, there are a lot of folks and skeptics who downplay the effectiveness of multilateral action, and for them working through international institutions like the u.n. or respecting international law is a sign of weakness. i think they are wrong. let me offer you two examples why. in ukraine, russia's recent actions recall the day when the russian tanks rolled into eastern europe. but this is not the cold war. our ability to shape world
opinion helped to isolate russia right away. because of american leadership, the world immediately condemned the russian actions and europe and the g-7 joined us in imposing the sanctions, and europe reinforced the allies, and eastern europe is stabilize ing the economy, and the imf brought stabilization to the ukrainian government, and this multiple multiinternational institutions served to fight the propaganda among the troops on the border, and the militias in ski masks. this weekend, ukrainians e voted by the millions. yesterday, i spoke to their next president. we don't know how the situation is going to play out, and there are grave challenges ahead, but standing with the allies in
international order and working with international institutions has given a chance for the ukrainian people to the choose their future. without us firing a shot. similarly, despite frequent warnings from the united states and israel and others the iranian nuclear program steadily advanced for years. but at the beginning of my presidency, we built a coalition to impose sanctions on the iranian economy while extending the hand of diplomacy to the iranian government. and now we have an opportunity to resolve the differences peacefully. the odds of success are still lo long, and we reserve all options to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but for the first time in a decade, we have a real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement, one that
is more effective and durable than what we could have achieved through the use of force. and throughout these e negotiations, it is the willingness to work through the multi lateral channels that kept the world on our side. the point is that this is american leadership. this is american strength. in each case, we built coalitions to respond to the specific challenge, and now we need to do more to strengthen the institutions that can anticipate and prevent problems from spreading. for example, nato is the strongest alliance that they have ever known, and we are not meeting with nato allies in new missions, and both in europe where the allies must be reassured, but also along the borders and where our allies have to pull their weight to
react to counter terrorism, and respond to failed states and train a network of partners. and like wooirz, the u.n. provides a platform for states to keep the peace torn apart by conflict. and now we have to make sure that the nations who provide the peacekeepers have the training and equipment to actually keep the peace. so we can prevent the kind of killing we have seen in the congo and sudan. we are going to deepen the investment in the countries that support the peacekeeping nations, because having other nations maintain order in their own neighborhoods lessens the need for us to put our own troops in harm's way. it is is a smart investment. it is the right way to lead. [ applause ] keep in mind that not all international norms will relate
directly to armed conflict, because we have a serious problem with cyber attacks which is why we are working to shape and enforce the rules to secure our networks and our citizens. in the asia pacific, we are supporting southeast asia nations as they ne goegotiate ae of conduct over maritime disputes in the south china sea, and we are working to resolve the disputes through international law. that spirit of cooperation needs to the energize the global effort to combat climate change. a creeping international security crisis to shape your time in uniform as we are called on to respond to the refugee flows and natural disasters and conflicts over water and food. that is why next year, i plan to make sure that america is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.
you see, american influence is always stronger when we lead by example. we can't exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else. we can't call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if the whole lot of the political leaders deny that it is taking place. we can't try to resolve problems in the south china sea when we have refused to make sure that the law of the sea convention is ratified the united states senate, and despite the fact that the top military leaders say that the treaty advances our national security. that is not leadership. that is retreat. that is not strength.
that is weak ness. it would be utterly foreign to leaders like roosevelt and truman, eisenhower and kennedy. i believe in american exceptionalism with every fiber of my being, but what makes us exceptional is not the ability to flout international norms and law, but it is the willingness to the affirm them through our actions. that's why i will continue to push to close gitmo, because american values and traditions do not permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders and that is why we are putting in place new restrictions on how america collects and uses intelligence, because we will have few er
partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we are conducting surveillance against ordinary citizens. america does not simply stand for stability or the absence of conflict, no matter what the cost, we stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere. which brings me to the fourth and the final element of american leadership, our willingness to act on the behalf of human dig nity. america's support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism, and it is a matter of national security. democracies are our closest friends and are far less likely to go to war. economies are based on the free and the open markets are performing better and become
markets for our goods. respect for human rights is an anecdote to instability, and the grievances that fuel violence and e terror. a new century has brought no end to tyranny. in capitals around the globe including unfortunately some of america's partners, there has been a crackdown on civil society. the kacancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies an enraged citizens from the remote villages to iconic squares, and watching these trends or the violent upheavals in parts of the arab world, it is easy to be cynical. but remember that because of america's efforts, because of american diplomacy and foreign assistance as well as the sacrifices of our military, more people live under elected
governments than at any time in human history. technology is empowering civilizations in ways that no iron fist can control. new breakthroughs are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. and even the upheaval of the arab world rejects a government that is anything but stable, and require requires a more responsive and effective governance. in countries like egypt, we acknowledge that our e relationship is anchored in the security interests. from peace treaties to israel to shared efforts in violent and extremism, and so we have not cut off cooperation with the new government, but we will and can con s consistently press for reforms that the egyptian people have demanded. meanwhile, looking at a country
like burma which only a few years ago was a detractable dictatorship, and hostile to the united states. 40 million people. thanks to the enormous courage of the people in that country, and because we took the diplomatic leadership, and we have seen political reforms opening up a once closed society. a movement by burmese leadership away are the the partnership of north korea in favor of engagement with america and the allies. we are now supporting reform, and badly needed national reconciliation through assistance and investment, through coaxing and at times public criticism. progress there could be reversed, but if burma succeeds, we will have gained a new partner without firing a shot. american leadership. in each of the cases, we should not expect the change to happen overnight, because that is why we form alliances not