Obama hits at pop­ulist strong­men in UN ad­dress

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

NEW YORK: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama used his farewell UN ad­dress yes­ter­day to cas­ti­gate strong­men and pop­ulists, tak­ing aim at Vladimir Putin’s Soviet nos­tal­gia and Don­ald Trump’s rise at home.

He told the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly that democ­racy re­mains the “firmest foun­da­tion for hu­man progress” as he re­pu­di­ated “crude pop­ulism” that has mush­roomed in the US and around the world.

“Some ar­gue the fu­ture favours the strong­man,” Obama said, in re­marks that will echo in the 2016 US cam­paign as much as the Krem­lin or Tianan­men Square. “I be­lieve this think­ing is wrong. “His­tory shows strong­men are then left with two paths: Per­ma­nent crack­down, which sparks strife at home, or scape­goat­ing en­e­mies abroad, which can lead to war.”

Obama’s solemn vale­dic­tory re­marks came less than 50 days be­fore Amer­i­cans de­cide whether fel­low Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, or Trump, the Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee, will be his re­place­ment.

Trump lashed out at Obama on Mon­day after a spate of at­tacks in New York, New Jersey and Min­nesota, say­ing “our coun­try has been weak. We’re let­ting peo­ple in by the thou­sands and tens of thou­sands”.

Obama chal­lenged that think­ing, say­ing: “We have to open our hearts and do more to help refugees who are des­per­ate for a home.

“We have to imag­ine what it would be like for our fam­ily, for our chil­dren if the un­speak­able hap­pened to us.”

Obama had a more di­rect mes­sage for his Rus­sian coun­ter­part, ac­cus­ing Putin – who has in­vaded Ukraine and de­ployed forces to Syria – of us­ing the mil­i­tary to gain global clout and “re­cover lost glory”.

“If Rus­sia con­tin­ues to in­ter­fere in the af­fairs of its neigh­bours, it may be pop­u­lar at home, it may fuel na­tion­al­ist fer­vour for a time, but over time it is also go­ing to di­min­ish its stature and make its bor­ders less se­cure.”

Obama also warned China’s in­creas­ingly pow­er­ful leader Xi Jin­ping that ad­her­ing to the rule of law of­fers “far greater sta­bil­ity than the mil­i­tari­sa­tion of a few rocks and reefs” in the South China Sea. – AFP

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