War and Peace (& Economic Terror): 9 highlights from the 69th UNGA
1). Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
The UN chief made an impassioned plea against violence, painting an alarming picture of current global crises, saying that warmongers are sabotaging any hopes of long-lasting peace.
"Diplomacy is on the defensive, undermined by those who believe in violence. Diversity is under assault by extremists who insist that their way is the only way. Disarmament is viewed as a distant dream, sabotaged by profiteers of perpetual warfare. But leadership is precisely about finding the seeds of hope and nurturing them into something bigger."
2). Barack Obama, US President
Obama, fresh from his decision to bomb his 7th country in his 6 years in power, was in bullish mood as he laid down the gauntlet to Islamic State and their reign of terror in Iraq and Syria, saying: “The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.”
The international community had come together "at a crossroads between war and peace, between disorder and integration, between fear and hope," Obama said.
3). David Cameron, UK Prime Minister
David Cameron, no doubt mightily relieved that he was still the prime minister of the United Kingdom following last week’s narrow ‘No’ vote for independence in Scotland, followed in the wake of Obama’s rhetoric, but bearing in mind that British MPs voted last year against bombing Syria, was perhaps a little more cautious, seeking to show that the UK is keen to learn from past mistakes. He has called MPs back early in London on Friday to ask them to support airstrikes in Iraq, but not Syria.
“We should learn the lessons of the past, especially of what happened in Iraq a decade ago. But we have to learn the right lessons. Yes to careful preparation; no to rushing to join a conflict without a clear plan.”
4). Francois Hollande, President of France
Hollande was understandably in a somber mood, given that a French tourist, Herve Gourdel, was beheaded in Algeria by militants linked to Islamic State shortly before the French PM’s speech in New York.
5). King Abdullah II of Jordan
Jordan has been an active player in the fight against Islamic State – and with good reason. The country has many IS sympathizers at home, and is a close neighbor of both Iraq and Syria. King Abdullah II also offered the use of ground troops against the jihadists as he has become frustrated at the lack of progress in fighting the militants.
“It is not an Arab or Muslim fight anymore, the new breed of extremism is recruiting worldwide through social media and covert partnerships. Time is of the essence.”
6). Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey
Turkey’s ebullient leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has had a bumpy year at home with mass protests, a constitutional crisis, and a fractious presidential election, was not afraid of ruffling a few feathers in New York either, as he lashed out Egypt and the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. In July, Erdogan had called the current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi “a tyrant.”
7). Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil
Brazil’s Rousseff has also endured recent mass workers’ protests, the agony of failing to win the FIFA World Cup as host this summer, and a spying controversy with the US. Facing parliamentary elections next month and presidential elections next year, she hit out at the US over its surveillance of her and her government, and announced Brazil would adopt legislation and technology to protect it from illegal interception of communications.
"Meddling in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and, as such, it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations."
8). Cristina Kirchner, President of Argentina
The embattled president of Argentina, whose country has been pushed by aggressive private creditors back to the brink of financial default, lashed out at “economic terrorists that create poverty, hunger and misery through the sin of speculation,” as the South American nation continues to restructure its economy amid its growing debt crisis.
" It is almost a type of economic and financial terrorism," she said.
9). Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela
Venezuelan leaders have something of a history when it comes to UN speeches, with President Nicolas Maduro’s predecessor, the late and incomparable Hugo Chavez, famously calling George W. Bush “the Devil.” Maduro did not resort to personal insults, but did call for more respect around the globe and concluded his speech with a prayer for peace.
“If this whole system of UN had at least a little human nature about it, then we would all concentrate on tackling the real threat, instead of sending drones and missiles to destroy cities in Gaza, Iraq and Syria.”