President Obama addresses turmoil in Arab world, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran
prisons of the past, and we cannot afford to get it wrong. We must seize this moment, and America stands ready to work with all who are willing to embrace a better future.
The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt. It must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted, "Muslims, Christians, we are one." The future must not belong to those who bully women. It must be shaped by girls who go to school and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.
The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country's resources. It must be won by the students and entrepreneurs, the workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the women and men that America stands with. There's is the vision we will support.
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.
Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shia pilgrims. It's time to heed the words of Gandhi, "Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit."
Together, we must work towards a work where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies. That's the vision we will support. Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, those who reject the right of Israel to exist.
The road is hard, but the destination is clear: a secure Jewish state of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine.
Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey.
In Syria, the future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people. If there's a cause that cries out for protests in the world today, peaceful protest, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets in apartment buildings. And we must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence.
Together, we must stand with those Syrians who believe in a different vision, a Syria that is united and inclusive, where children don't need to fear their own government and all Syrians have a say in how they're governed -- Sunnis and Alawites, Kurds and Christians. That's what America stands for. That is the outcome that we will work for, with sanctions and consequences for those who persecute and assistance and support for those who work for this common good. Because we believe that the Syrians who embrace this vision will have the strength and legitimacy to lead.
In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads. The Iranian people have a remarkable and ancient history, and many Iranians wish to enjoy peace and prosperity alongside their neighbors. But just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government continues to prop up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad.
Time and again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful and to meet its obligations to the United Nations.
So let me be clear: America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited.
We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace.
Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
That's why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that's why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
We know from painful experience that the path to security and prosperity does not lie outside the boundaries of international law and respect for human rights. That's why this institution was established from the rubble of conflict; that is why liberty triumphed over tyranny in the Cold War; and that is the lesson of the last two decades as well.
History shows that peace and progress come to those who make the right choices. Nations in every part of the world have travelled this difficult path.
Europe -- the bloodiest battlefield of the 20th century -- is united, free and at peace. From Brazil to South Africa, from Turkey to South Korea, from India to Indonesia people of different races, religions and traditions have lifted millions out of poverty, while respecting the rights of their citizens and meeting their responsibilities as nations.
And it is because of the progress that I've witnessed in my own lifetime, the progress that I've witnessed after nearly four years as president, that I remain ever hopeful about the world that we live in.
The war in Iraq is over. American troops have come home. We've begun a transition in Afghanistan, and America and our allies will end our war on schedule in 2014.
Al Qaida has been weakened and Osama bin Laden is no more.
Nations have come together to lock down nuclear materials, and America and Russia are reducing our arsenals.
We have seen hard choices made -- from Naypyidaw to Cairo to Abidjan -- to put more power in the hands of citizens.
At a time of economic challenge, the world has come together to broaden prosperity. Through the G-20, we have partnered with emerging countries to keep the world on the path of recovery.
America has pursued a development agenda that fuels growth and breaks dependency, and worked with African leaders to help them feed their nations.
New partnerships have been forged to combat corruption and promote government that is open and transparent. And new commitments have been made through the Equal Futures Partnership to ensure that women and girls can fully participate in politics and pursue opportunity.
And later today, I will discuss our efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking.
All these things give me hope. But what gives me the most hope is not the actions of us, not the actions of leaders. It is the people that I've seen. The American troops who've risked their lives and sacrificed their limbs for strangers half a world away. The students in Jakarta or Seoul who are eager to use their knowledge to benefit mankind. The faces in a square in Prague or a parliament in Ghana who see democracy giving voice to their aspirations. The young people in the favelas of Rio and the schools of Mumbai whose eyes shine with promise.
These men, women and children of every race and every faith remind me that for every angry mob that gets shown on television, there are billions around the world who share similar hopes and dreams. They tell us that there is a common heartbeat to humanity.
So much attention in our world turns to what divides us. That's what we see on the news, that's what consumes our political debates.
But when you strip all away, people everywhere long for the freedom to determine their destiny; the dignity that comes with work; the comfort that comes with faith; and the justice that exists when governments serve their people and not the other way around.
The United States of America will always stand up for these aspirations for our own people and for people all across the world. That was our founding purpose. That is what our history shows. That is what Chris Stevens worked for throughout his life.
And I promise you this: Long after the killers are brought to justice, Chris Stevens' legacy will live on in the lives that he touched, in the tens of thousands who marched against violence through the streets of Benghazi, in the Libyans who changed their Facebook photo to one of Chris, in the signs that read simply, "Chris Stevens was a Friend to all Libyans." They should give us hope. They should remind us that so long as we work for it, justice will be done, that history is on our side, and that a rising tide of liberty will never be reversed.
Thank you very much.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: President Barack Obama, United Nations, international relations, democracy, Iran
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