PRESIDENT OBAMA PRAISES THE UNITED KINGDOM AND WESTERN IDEALS IN WESTMINSTER SPEECH

As reported on May 25, 2011, President Barack Obama in his Westminster speech lauded the American-British special relationship:

I come here today to reaffirm one of the oldest and strongest alliances the world has ever known. It has long been said that the United States and the United Kingdom share a special relationship.

What started on the British Isles would inspire millions throughout Europe and the world:

But perhaps no one drew greater inspiration from these notions of freedom than your rabble-rousing colonists on the other side of the Atlantic.

As Winston Churchill said:

The “…Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.

The American president also paid homage to NATO:

And with the founding of NATO — a British idea — we joined a transatlantic alliance that has ensured our security for over half a century.

Together with our Allies, we forged a lasting peace from a cold war. When the Iron Curtain lifted, we expanded our alliance to include the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, and built new bridges to Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union. And when there was strife in the Balkans, we worked together to keep the peace.

The rising of developing nations in Asia and Latin America, the president declared:

Will [not] accompany the decline of American and European influence around the world. Perhaps, the argument goes, these nations represent the future, and the time for our leadership has passed.

That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now. It was the United States, the United Kingdom, and our democratic allies that shaped a world in which new nations could emerge and individuals could thrive.

It was important that it in the speech was underlined that the rise of the BRIC will not mean decline of the West. The time for Western leadership is now. It was the West that shaped the world in which new nations and individuals could move forward.

The United States and the rest of the West remain the greatest catalyst for global action, in the words of the president, who also paid homage to Western economic leadership:

Adam Smith’s central insight remains true today: there is no greater generator of wealth and innovation than a system of free enterprise that unleashes the full potential of individual men and women. That is what led to the Industrial Revolution that began in the factories of Manchester. That is what led to the dawn of an Information Age that arose from the office parks of Silicon Valley. And that is why countries like India are growing so rapidly — because in fits and starts, they are moving towards the market-based principles that the United States and the United Kingdom have always embraced.

That gives nations like the United States and the United Kingdom an inherent advantage. From Newton to Edison we have led the world in our commitment to science and cutting-edge research; the discovery of new medicines and technologies. We educate our citizens and train our workers in the best colleges and universities on Earth. But to maintain this advantage in a world that’s more competitive than ever, we will have to redouble our investments in science and engineering, and renew our national commitments to educating our workforces.

The American president also reminded his listeners at Westminster of the threats in the 21st century:

Terrorists have taken the lives of our citizens in New York and in London. And while al Qaeda seeks a religious war with the West, let’s remember that they have killed thousands of Muslims — men, women and children — around the globe.

Obama also brought up the longing for freedom in the Mideast:

But make no mistake: what we saw in Tehran, Tunis and Tahrir Square is a longing for the same freedoms that we take for granted at home. It was a rejection of the notion that people in certain parts of the world don’t want to be free, or need to have democracy imposed upon them. It was a rebuke to the worldview of al Qaeda, which smothers the rights of individuals, and would thereby subject them to perpetual poverty and violence.

Now we must show that we will back up these words with deeds. That means investing in the future of those nations that transition to democracy, starting with Tunisia and Egypt — by deepening ties of trade and commerce; by helping them demonstrate that freedom brings prosperity. And that means standing up for universal rights — by sanctioning those who pursue repression, strengthening civil society, and supporting the rights of minorities.

Unlike most countries in the world, we do not define citizenship based on race or ethnicity. Being American or British is not about belonging to a certain group; it’s about believing in a certain set of ideals — the rights of individuals and the rule of law. That is why we hold incredible diversity within our borders.

What lacked in the presidential speech was a recognition that it was President George W. Bush who during his terms in office initiated the American policy of support for freedom and democracy in the Mideast.

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