BARACK OBAMA: You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else. We canâ€™t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if so many of our political leaders deny that it is taking place.Â Itâ€™s a lot harder to call on China to resolve its maritime disputes under the Law of the Sea Convention when the United States Senate has refused to ratify it â€“ despite the repeated insistence of our top military leaders that the treaty advances our national security. Thatâ€™s not leadership; thatâ€™s retreat. Thatâ€™s not strength; thatâ€™s weakness. And 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 our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; itâ€™s our willingness to affirm them through our actions. Thatâ€™s why I will continue to push to close GTMO â€“ because American values and legal traditions donâ€™t permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders. Thatâ€™s why we are putting in place new restrictions on how America collects and uses intelligence â€“ because we will have fewer 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 price; we stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere.