Thursday, September 23, 2010

President Obama addresses the UN

US President Barack Obama finished off the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal summit with a speech yesterday. President Obama talked about the need for more effective aid to give countries a chance to sustain themselves instead of being dependent on others.

Another theme in Obama's speech was how international aid is really in the givers self interest. The country giving the aid can benefit long term through increased trade. International aid can also benefit the wealthy countries with greater safety, for productive educated people are less likely to become militant.

From the Washington Post, writer Scott Wilson describes the policy behind the speech.

On Wednesday, while outlining changes in how the United States will pursue international development, Obama challenged rich nations to view assistance to poorer ones as a vital part of their national security strategy.

"I suspect that some in wealthier countries may ask, 'With our economies struggling, so many people out of work, and so many families barely getting by, why a summit on development?' " Obama told an audience of several hundred people in the U.N. General Assembly hall. "The answer is simple. In our global economy, progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders, including my fellow Americans."

The administration has been working to redefine development aid as a national security tool, and the strategy the president outlined Wednesday seeks to more closely coordinate the nearly two dozen government agencies involved in aid policy.

U.S. development aid extends to more than 100 countries, although much of it in recent years has been concentrated in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama said his administration will begin assessing development policy by how successful it is in helping countries move "from poverty to prosperity," not just by how much money, food or medicine it distributes.

"Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn't always improved those societies over the long term," the president said. "Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That's not development, that's dependence, and it's a cycle we need to break."

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