Obama: "A Nation Ringed By Walls Would Only Imprison Itself"

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President Obama gives his final address as president before the United Nations. He says that the path the nations of the world are currently on towards "global integration" has been massively successful, but that in order to continue, it requires a "course correction" in the face of opposition from "crude populists."

Obama says the current global order faces theats from: "Religious fundamentalism, the politics of ethnicity or tribe or sect, aggressive nationalism, a crude populism, sometimes from the far left, but sometimes from the far right, to restore what they believe was a better, simpler age, free of outside contamination."

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"We cannot dismiss these visions," Obama admits. "They are powerful. They reflect dissatisfaction among too many of our citizens."

"I do not believe those visions can deliver security or prosperity over the long-term," he said. "But I do believe that these visions fail to recognize that a very basic level, our common humanity."

It is "self-defeating" to try to reverse the progress of globalization, Obama said: "Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Indeed, our international order has been so successful that we take it as a given that great powers no longer fight world wars. That the end of the Cold Wwar lifted the shadow of nuclear armageddon. That the battle fields of Europe has been replaced by peaceful union. That China and India remain on a path of remarkable growth.

I say all this not to whitewash the challenges we face, or to suggest complacency.

Rather, I believe that we need to acknowledge these achievements, in order to summon the confidence to carry this progress forward.

And to make sure that we do not abandon those very things that have delivered this progress.

In order to move forward though in order to move forward though, we do have to acknowledge that the the existing path to global integration requires a course correction.

Too often, those trumtpeting the benefits of globalization have ignored equality in and among nations, enduring appeal of ethnic and sectarian identities, have left international institutions ill-equipped, underfunded, underresourced in order to handle transnational challenges.

And as these real problems have been neglected, alternative visions of the world have pressed forward. Both in the wealthiest countries and in the poorest.

Religious fundamentalism, the politics of ethnicity or tribe or sect, aggressive nationalism, a crude populism, sometimes from the far left, but sometimes from the far right to restore what they believe was a better, simpler age, free of outside contamination.

We cannot dismiss these visions, they are powerful. They reflect dissatisfaction among too many of our citizens. I do not believe those visions can deliver security or prosperity over the long-term. But I do believe that these visions fail to recognize that a very basic level, our common humanity. Moreover, I believe that the acceleration of travel and technology and tell communications, together with a global economy that depends on a global supply chains making it self-defeating ultimately for those who seek to reverse this progress.

Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself.

So the answer cannot be a simple rejection of global integration. Instead, we must work together to make sure the benefits of such integration are broadly shared. And that the disruptions, economic, political, and cultural that are caused by integration are squarely addressed.


Watch the rest of Obama's speech below:

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