Quote from foreign minister stirs up tempest
An Egyptian foreign service official’s comment about President Obama is turning into a sensation among bloggers for its claim that the American leader claims to be Muslim.
Obama’s religiosity has been the subject of discussion since before he was elected and his Chicago-area pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, delivered a “God d— America” sermon that was caught on video.
Obama later claimed to be a Muslim in a television interview where the interviewer corrected his “misstatement” and he has referenced the Muslim heritage in America’s past several times.
Now the heat on the issue is being turned up because of a weeks-old report in Israel Today.
In the report, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying during an appearance on Nile TV that, “The American president told me in confidence that he is a Muslim.”
The White House remained silent on the comment, declining to respond to a WND request for comment.
But blogger Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs wrote, “This is akin to an SS officer getting elected president during WW II. Every country in the free world must be cognizant of such a catastrophic sea change in the leadership of the free world (as witnessed by events over the past year). This changes everything. He took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and yet he has gone around the world promoting Islam, the Shariah (Islamic law).”
She suggested that the exchange could have happened early in 2010 when Gheit was in Washington, D.C., to address “Mideast peace talks.”
Obama’s comments from before the 2008 election:
The Israel Today report, from late in April, focused on the “crisis” in relations between Jerusalem and Washington under Obama.
It quotes sources who called Obama a “strategic catastrophe” for Israel.
They expressed concern, speaking on condition of anonymity to the newspaper, that Obama’s administration is a serious threat to the future of Israel.
The report then said Israelis feel Obama is “appeasing” Muslims at the expense of Israel.
“‘The American president told me in confidence that he is a Muslim,’ said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Nile TV. That could explain why Obama has instructed that the term ‘Islamic extremism’ no longer be used in official government documents and statements,” according to the report.
There was no independent verification of the statement attributed to Gheit.
But a video has been assembled by a group called Feel the Change Media highlighting Obama’s numerous remarks about Islam:
It has been viewed more than two million times already.
It was last year when Toby Harden, of the Daily Telegraph, cited Obama’s statement that the U.S. is “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.”
Obama had said, he quoted, “if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’ be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.”
Obama also previously said in Turkey that Americans “do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.”
That prompted members of Congress to disagree. At that time a bipartisan group of 25 members of the House of Representatives submitted H.Res. 397, which calls on Congress to affirm “the rich spiritual and religious history of our nation’s founding and subsequent history” and to designate the first week of May as America’s Spiritual Heritage Week for “the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.”
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., specifically challenged the president’s claims that America is not a Christian nation in a news conference announcing the bill immediately following a National Day of Prayer observance.
“The overwhelming evidence suggests that this nation was born and birthed with Judeo-Christian principles,” Forbes told reporters, “and I would challenge anybody to tell me that point in time when we ceased to be so, because it doesn’t exist.”
During a June 2007 speech available on Youtube, Obama stated, “Whatever we once were, we’re no longer a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”
In that speech, Obama took aim at the “Christian Right” for “hijacking” religion and using it to divide the nation:
“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it’s because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us,” he said.
Geller suggested perhaps other evidence should be considered as well, listing how Obama in early 2009 declared the “war on terror” over, suggested discussions with Hamas and recruited more Muslims for the White House staff.
He also created the Outreach to the Worldwide Muslim community in the State department, announces cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, offered funding to a Muslim technology fund, issued a special hajj message, had a “non-religious” Christmas, ordered NASA to work with Muslim nations and offered support for an anti-Israel resolution at the U.N.
“This is one hellacious argument and anyone not lobotomized by liberalism can see Obama’s an agent of Islam inside the wire,” said one participant in Geller’s forum page.
Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin
Moscow, which conspicuously left out any mention of China’s growing influence and power in its newly adopted military doctrine, is revealing the depth of its alarm, however, through its trade and business decisions, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The new doctrine takes aim at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which Moscow identifies as a threat due to its eastward expansion ambitions. But a glance at the trade balance sheets between Moscow and Beijing and other business decisions reveals an equal concern is developing there.
Not only are trade channels drying up, the Kremlin is planning an uptick in military exercises this year focusing on the Far East and also is reaching out to enhance its relationship with nations that surround China, signaling a possible containment policy toward Beijing.
Russia recently agreed to sell a dozen Su-30 top-of-the-line fighter aircraft to Vietnam, in addition to an increase in other arms exports such as the recent Vietnamese purchase of six Russian Kilo submarines.
A key analyst has concluded that while Moscow’s policy doesn’t directly mention China, it includes references to the nation because of its mention of a “real possibility of military conflict.” The alarm follows China’s training program for what would appear to be an invasion of Russia.
Further, Russian-Chinese trade last year fell some 31.8 percent from 2008, to only $38.8 billion.
By Jennifer Riley
CBS reportedly told a gay dating site that its proposed Super Bowl ad would be reviewed for possible airing and would be considered if a spot becomes available.
ManCrunch.com submitted a 30-second commercial to CBS on Jan. 18 and, as of Jan. 22, CBS reportedly said “the spot hadn’t been officially approved yet” by the network standards and that all spots for the big game on Feb. 7 had been sold out, according to Fox News. But CBS agreed to consider running the ad if an advertiser dropped out.
The ad involves two men watching the Super Bowl when their hands touch as they reach into a chip bowl. The two men then begin to kiss each other as another man sitting nearby watches in shock.
In response to the purported ad, a spokesperson for the conservative pro-family group American Family Association said it would be “totally irresponsible” of the network to air the ad during the most watched TV program of the year.
“CBS should not put parents in the position of answering embarrassing and awkward questions from their children while they’re just trying to enjoy a football game,” said Tim Wildmon, president of AFA, in a statement Thursday. “CBS should quit dithering around and reject this ad out of hand.”
In addition to pressure from pro-family groups, CBS is also coming under fire from pro-choice groups for approving an ad featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mom, Pam.
Though the exact content of the ad has not been revealed, many are speculating that it will recount Pam Tebow’s refusal to have an abortion while she was pregnant with Tim despite having suffered from a life-threatening infection at the time.
Focus on the Family, which produced the ad, said earlier this month that Pam Tebow would share a personal story centered on the theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.”
“The Tebows said they agreed to appear in the commercial because the issue of life is one they feel very strongly about,” Focus on the Family reported.
“Tim and Pam share our respect for life and our passion for helping families thrive,” added Focus on the Family president and CEO Jim Daly.
Focus on the Family’s Super Bowl ad, which still needs to receive final confirmation, will be Christian group’s first Super Bowl commercial.
Super Bowl broadcasts are typically viewed by over 90 million people each year.
This year’s Super Bowl, which pits the Indianapolis Colts against the New Orleans Saints, will kick off at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 7.
The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback says he stands up for what he believes. Even so, the Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad against abortion threatens to politicize ‘Super Sunday’ and turn some fans and NFL coaches against him.
By Patrik Jonsson
In a historic career at the University of Florida, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow has kept his faith and his convictions confined mostly to a few square inches beneath his eyes: Every Saturday, he would write a Biblical citation on his eye black.
Now, at the very moment when his hope of becoming a pro football quarterback hangs in the balance, Tim Tebow is taking on perhaps the single most divisive topic in America – abortion – in an advertisement set to air during the single most-watched television program of the year: the Super Bowl.
For a handsome and humble young man, who has become revered throughout much of the South for his devoutness as well as his on-field skill, it is an astonishingly bold decision. In the 30-second ad against abortion, he will speak from his own experience of how his mother did not abort him despite medical advice to do so.
Abortion-rights groups are already calling for the ad’s removal, saying that the group behind the ad is “anti-woman” and “anti-equality.” Online chatter is expressing an unease about Tebow’s willingness to infuse Super Bowl Sunday – an apolitical American rite – with politics. And, perhaps most concerning for Tebow himself, pro football teams already skeptical of his ability to transition to the National Football League might see this as further reason to avoid him on draft day.
“I do stand up for what I believe,” Tebow told Sports Illustrated last summer. “And at least you can respect that.”
Raised on a farm outside Jacksonville, Fla., by the son of an evangelist preacher and a mom who home-schooled him, Tebow is an amalgam of charismatic leader, world-class athlete, and devout Christian Southern boy. His faith resonates among fans in the Deep South.
But by targeting the Super Bowl, his “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life” ad ranges far beyond the familiar confines of the conservative South. Fans and coaches in the NFL might resent him for pushing a cultural message on a day usually reserved for quarterback matchups and halftime extravaganzas.
“We’re going down a road here that is filled with potholes, moral and otherwise,” writes Orlando Sentinel sports columnist George Diaz, suggesting that the ad could lead to more advocacy ads, which Super Bowl broadcaster CBS has said it will consider.
The ad, funded by the Focus on the Family organization, is expected to tell the story of Tebow and his mother, Pam. Ill while pregnant with Tim, Pam refused suggestions to abort her son. Those who have seen the ad describe it as “uplifting.”
“I asked God for a preacher, and he gave me a quarterback,” Tebow’s dad, Bob, has famously said about the trying pregnancy.
The appropriate venue?
But various groups, including the National Organization for Women, have called for CBS to withdraw the ad. They say that both the ad’s advocacy content, as well as the group behind it are unacceptable. So far, CBS has said it intends to run the ad.
“This un-American hate doesn’t have a place in this all-American pastime,” Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA, told Fox News.
Tebow has for years had to walk the line between the conviction of his faith and open proselytizing. But the ad comes at a crossroads for Tebow. Professional scouts have said Tebow’s throwing motion and skill-set are poorly suited for the NFL, and his preparations for the upcoming Senior Bowl, which offers coaches a first up-close look at college prospects, haven’t gone well so far this week.
“The anti-abortion ad that he’s in that will possibly run during the Super Bowl will likely create an uproar for him as well that some teams might not want to get involved in,” writes Mark Miller on Yahoo! Sports.
Yet it is the timing of his ad – and not necessarily the content – that could knock Tebow down a few notches among NFL fans. Indeed, a May 2009 Gallup poll found that, for the first time since the poll began in 1995, more Americans are anti-abortion than pro-abortion rights. But timing is everything.
“There are going to be about 100 million of us who won’t be happy for 30 seconds of the Super Bowl,” writes CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel. “I’m not complaining about the ad because it’s anti-abortion and I’m not. I’m complaining about the ad because it’s pro-politics. And I’m not. Not on Super Sunday.”
By Peter Ford
BEIJING – Chinese Foreign Ministry briefings are generally pretty dull affairs, the way such events are in many countries: reporters do their best to get the spokesman to say something newsworthy, and the spokesman does his best not to oblige them.
On Thursday, though, Qin Gang inadvertently broke the mold. He said that Barack Obama, being a black president who admired Abraham Lincoln’s role in abolishing slavery and preserving the Union, should sympathize with Beijing’s opposition to the Dalai Lama.
He seemed to be making two points. The first was that President Obama’s skin color should make him especially sensitive to slavery; the Chinese government refers to Tibetan society before Chinese troops took over Lhasa in 1951 as serfdom.
The second was that Obama should learn a lesson from Lincoln’s opposition to secession, and support Beijing’s opposition to the Dalai Lama, whom the government here accuses of “splittism.”
Leave aside the fact that the Dalai Lama has repeated until he is blue in the face that he does not support Tibetan independence – only autonomy. Leave aside the fact that Obama has no slaves in his lineage.
The ministry’s spokesman appeared to be trying to make foreign audiences believe that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the moral equivalent of Abraham Lincoln, and that the Dalai Lama is a supporter of feudal serfdom.
Considering that most people outside this country’s borders see the CPC as the ones restricting freedoms, and regard the Dalai Lama as a moral giant, Mr. Qin showed a lot of nerve.
Nerve is a valuable quality in a press spokesman, of course. But Qin’s allusions to US history also displayed a complete disregard for – or misunderstanding of – how most of the rest of the world views the Tibetan issue.
Given that the Foreign Ministry is meant to be the agency of the Chinese government that is best informed about the outside world, and given that its spokesman is meant to be one of its diplomats best qualified to win foreign reporters over, that is worrying.
By Ethan Cole
According to reports, authorities had threatened the Rev. Sourik, the bishop and overseer of the Assemblies of God Churches in Iran, to completely shut down the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran unless it stopped holding Friday services by the deadline, Oct. 31.
Sourik, who had resisted the demands of authorities, finally relented and announced at the end of a Friday afternoon worship on Oct. 30 that there would no longer be Friday gatherings but only Sunday services.
“The announcement of the termination of the Friday services was received with shock and utter surprise and resulted in many openly weeping in the church service,” reported the Farsi Christian News Network.
According to reports, Sourik had complied with the demand in order to protect the security and well-being of the members and visitors attending the church services. Sourik, who has heart problems, had been under pressure from officials of the Ministry of Information to close down the church on Fridays, which is the official weekly holiday in Iran.
More recently, the pastor also received threats from the Pasdaran Militia (The Revolutionary Guards), which gave the ultimatum that if Friday services did not end by Oct. 31 then the militia would forcibly close the church down for good.
Some hearing the news of the Friday service ban say they fear that the crackdown is the beginning of a new campaign against public Christian worship gatherings. Most of the Christians in Iran worship in underground churches, but the Assemblies of God Church of Tehran is one of the few that holds public services.
“I believe the main reason they closed those services is to send a strong signal to all Christians inside and outside Iran that they will not tolerate Christianity in Iran,” commented one informant to International Christian Concern. “Its purpose is mostly to intimidate.”
Thus far, government officials have failed to provide an explanation for the closing of Friday services at the Central Assemblies of God Church.
Regardless, persecution watchdog groups say they oppose Iran’s resolution to bar Christians from freely having fellowship on Fridays, or any other day of the week.
“We urge Iran to respect the rights of its Christians to practice their faith freely without government interference, or authoritarian rule,” said Aidan Clay, ICC regional manager for the Middle East.
The Assemblies of God Church of Tehran is an independent church that was founded by several pastors and Christian lay leaders years before the Islamic revolution. The church continued its ministry after the revolution and several pastors were martyred by extremists, including some reportedly with ties to the regime.
Many gay rights activists think Obama isn’t doing enough. But he’s in no rush on same-sex marriage or the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.
Does that kind of clearly dominant constituency — one that’s more politically-attuned than the rest of the electorate — come with any political obligation regarding gay rights? You bet it does, and this weekend Obama is acknowledging the debt.
So far, his is a mixed record.
While Obama remains opposed to marriage among same-sex couples, in June he extended some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. And he has taken steps to include among his administration openly gay officials.
John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, is the government’s highest-ranking gay official. David Huebner, chief lawyer for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has been nominated ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Mr. Huebner would be just the second openly gay US ambassador. (The first was appointed by Bill Clinton.)
Marriage and the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay men and women in uniform remain the toughest issues for the nation — and especially for Obama.
The Pew Research Center reported Friday that while most Americans favor civil unions for same-sex couples, they remain opposed to gay marriage.
It’s an issue that transcends government policy to an unusual extent, carrying significant moral and religious overtones. Pew finds that “nearly half of the public (49 percent) says homosexual behavior is morally wrong, while 9 percent say it is morally acceptable and 35 percent say it is not a moral issue.”
Meanwhile, the armed services for years have wrestled with the Pentagon’s policy regarding gay service members — a policy which senior retired officers (and even some on active duty) increasingly have spoken out against at a time when the troops, like the relatively young cohort of Americans they’re part of, don’t see the point in discriminating against gay men and lesbians.
Many gay rights advocates are losing patience with Obama who (unlike Bill Clinton) has no inclination to jump right into the military issue.
“Eleven months after his election, he has failed to deliver on any of his commitments to gay Americans, but even worse has been his refusal to engage around these issues,” Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton’s administration on gay and lesbian policy, told the Associated Press.
“What he needs to do now is engage and deliver,” said Socarides. “Spend some of his political capital on ending the gay military ban, a hugely symbolic issue. And with no intellectually sound arguments left against it, come out squarely for gay marriage equality.”
Obama also is being nudged to retire today’s military policy by many members of Congress. Led by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) of Pennsylvania (the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress) 176 House members have signed on to a bill doing away with don’t ask, don’t tell.
Obama is eager to sign the new hate crimes law. And White House officials push back against the notion that the president is dragging his feet on gay rights.
“The president has been very clear. He’s not hiding, he’s not avoiding [the gay and lesbian] issue,” Melody Barnes, the president’s top domestic policy adviser, told the Washington Post. “He has walked into a range of different communities as well as looked into the eyes of those in the GLBT community and been very clear about what he supports and what he wants done and the way he thinks it’s practical to get it done.”
America reacts to Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize
By Drew Zahn
“It’s not April 1, is it?” a White House aide reportedly asked ABC’s Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos.
In an official statement, the president says he was “most surprised and deeply humbled.”
Others have expressed similar shock that Obama, in office for less than 10 months, had been awarded the prize. Underlying the shock is the fact that the deadline for filing nominations for the award is Feb. 1 of any given year, meaning the president was nominated after being in office for just 11 days.
“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’” said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights.”
A shocked Michael Savage further blasted the Nobel Prize committee for its choice:
“What has [Obama] done? Has he discovered a cure for brain cancer I don’t know about?” the talk radio host asked in a Newsweek interview. “We all know what the Nobel Prize committee is ever since Yasir Arafat won. It’s a radical leftist front group that hijacked Alfred Nobel’s prize.”
Fellow radio talker Rush Limbaugh also heaped on criticism, stating that awarding the prize to such an unaccomplished president is a “greater embarrassment” than Obama’s recent failed bid to bring the Olympic Games to Chicago.
“This fully exposes the illusion that is Barack Obama,” Limbaugh told POLITICO in an e-mail. “And with this ‘award’ the elites of the world are urging Obama, THE MAN OF PEACE, to not do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States.”
Limbaugh continued, “They love a weakened, neutered U.S., and this is their way of promoting that concept.”
Other reactions, however, have been glowing:
“Obama got the prize not for doing, but for being. Not for making peace, but for exemplifying something new on the world stage – the politics of dignity,” wrote Robert Fuller, former president of Oberlin College, on the Huffington Post. “What is dignitarian politics? It is the recognition that people the world over actually want dignity more than they want either liberty or equality. In policy terms, it means ensuring dignity for all – within and among nations.”
Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement, “We are pleased that our president has been awarded one of the highest honors for any world leader. Under president Obama’s leadership, our nation is beginning to restore its international image as a beacon of peace and justice.”
He continued, “CAIR and the American Muslim community stand ready to partner with President Obama in promoting the ‘mutual interest and mutual respect’ he mentioned in his inaugural address.”
WND readers have sent in their share of comments, too.
“To the best of my knowledge, no American President in modern history with no significant foreign policy experience, no major world-shaking legislation to his credit as a junior senator with two years of experience and only a few weeks in office as president before the deadline for nominations ended has won a Nobel Peace Prize,” writes WND reader Geoffrey Cox. “Surely this could only be accomplished either by a figure of deity, or by the voting of some incredibly stupid or corrupt Norwegians – I’m going with the latter.”
Obama is the third sitting U.S. president to win the award, after Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the former in the fifth year of his presidency for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese war and the latter in the sixth year of his administration, largely for his role in establishing the League of Nations.
Other WND readers have also taken exception to awarding the Nobel Prize to a president with few international accomplishments:
- “The Nobel Peace Prize nine months into his term for … what?” asks WND reader Henry Frickel. “That’s like giving me, a guy who barely knows how to cut-and-paste and thinks Excel is something you do with that pedal on the right, the Computer World ‘Techie of the Year Award.’”
- “Obama winning the Nobel, what a joke!” scoffed reader Sherry Perkins. “How do you win a Nobel Prize for peace when you have troops killing people in another country?”
- “Has President Obama reduced standing armies? Did he speak out for the peace process when thousands of Iranians were slaughtered in the streets? No,” writes reader Louis Frederick. “He managed to convince most the world that America is arrogant, uncaring and not worthy of the superpower status we once held. He stood with hands on hips while Russia rolled over the democratic state of Georgia, and the reward was the removal of a missile shield from Czechoslovakia. He flaps lips while Iran is feverishly working on nuclear weapons to bring ‘peace’ to the Middle East by destroying the democratic state of Israel. Ludicrous.”
- R.C. Rochte comments, “So, ‘The One’ has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (on credit for more surrenders of American sovereignty in the future, no doubt).”
Other reactions from around the country have challenged Obama’s merit for the award, not on his resume but on his politics. Judie Brown, president of American Life League, released the following statement:
“Bestowing the Nobel Prize on the most rabid pro-abortion president in history is a direct slap in the face to past recipient, Mother Teresa of Calcutta who said, upon receiving her Nobel Peace Prize: ‘the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing – direct murder by the mother herself.’” Brown said. “In awarding the prize to Obama, the Nobel Committee is announcing that abortion is the cornerstone of a hellish ‘peace’ – the damning silence of 51 million aborted children in the United States alone.”
She concluded, “The Nobel Committee has bestowed the ‘Peace Prize’ on a man dedicated to war in the womb.”
Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, however, defended the choice – even stating the vote was unanimous – on ABC’s “Good Morning America”:
“President Obama has changed very dramatically international politics,” Lundestad said. “We feel he has emphasized multilateral diplomacy, he has addressed international institutions, dialogue negotiations. He has inspired the world with his vision of a world without nuclear arms. He has changed the U.S. policy dramatically. There’s a whole list.”
As for the president himself, Obama said from the White House Rose Garden, “I do not feel I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures who have been honored by this prize.”
“I also know this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women … want to build,” Obama said of the prize committee. “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership.”
He concluded, “I will accept this award as a call to action.”
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
President Obama and the organizers of the Chicago 2016 bid for the Summer Olympic Games announced that Mr. Obama will, after all, attend the Oct. 2 meeting of the International Olympic Committee at which the 2016 host city will be chosen.
The announcement is a tremendous boost for the Chicago but, perhaps saving it from what otherwise could have been likely failure.
The heads of state for the other three bid cities – Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo – had all announced their plans to be in Copenhagen for the Oct. 2 vote.
As a result, Obama’s initial decision not to attend could have been fatal for Chicago’s chances. It is likely that the IOC would not have looked favorably on Obama refusing to go the extra mile for a bid from his hometown, regardless of his hectic healthcare reform schedule in Washington.
Indeed, the potentially decisive role that heads of state can play in Olympic bids was underlined four years ago, when experts suggested Paris was a shoo-in as host city for the 2012 Summer Games.
The day before the vote, French President Jacques Chirac was mocking the competition, saying “the only worse food than British food is Finnish” and “the only thing the British have done for Europe’s agriculture is mad cow disease.” Meanwhile, British Prime Minister was at the IOC meeting in Singapore lobbying the IOC heavily on London’s behalf.
The combination of the two events turned the bidding in London’s favor. Mr. Blair’s lobbying effort was so aggressive, in fact, that French organizers complained to the IOC, saying it was illegal. The charges were dismissed.
This will be the first time that a US president has gone to the IOC vote. But London 2012 established a new bar for bid cities, and Obama initial unwillingness to commit to those obligations were a great concern to Chicago 2016 organizers.
At a press summit earlier this month, they made it clear that they were doing everything in their powerto persuade Obama to go, but that the decision was ultimately his.
“We could not be more pleased to welcome President Barack Obama to our delegation for the IOC selection of the host city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the US Olympic Committee said in a statement.
Obama’s decision leaves Chicago well placed for the Oct. 2 vote. One of the top analysts of Olympic bids rates Chicago as the second favorite to win the IOC vote, just behind Rio.
“Rio has been able to deliver an emotional edge to its appeal that the other bids haven’t matched,” said Mr. Hula in a press release. “Chicago slips to second from the June index, but still scores three points higher, helped by the addition of financial guarantees and government support.”
At the UN General Assembly, Obama said the US is ready to address global challenges such as nuclear proliferation. But the world cannot expect America to solve such problems alone, he said.
By Howard LaFranchi
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. – President Obama assured the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that the era of a unilateralist America is over. But, he said, the ensuing era of cooperation in addressing the world’s toughest challenges also requires a new sense of responsibility on the part of all nations.
In his first UN speech as president, Mr. Obama said the United States is ready to address challenges ranging from nuclear proliferation to global economic prosperity. Yet the world cannot expect America to figure out international challenges alone, he said.
“Make no mistake: This cannot be solely America’s endeavor,” he told a receptive General Assembly chamber. “Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.”
At the same time, Obama said, all nations have a role to play: “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility.”
Obama’s “responsibility” theme echoes one he has used extensively in addressing domestic issues as well. But at the UN, the call for responsible action received an immediate rebuff from Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi, who gave a rambling and at times incoherent speech in which he called the UN Security Council the “terror council” and belittled the UN as a dictatorship of the powerful.
Mr. Qaddafi’s speech, which droned on for about 90 minutes, exemplified the challenge before Obama in seeking cooperative action from the 192-nation body. The speech also seems bound to reinforce disdain in the US for the UN.
“President Obama has a very difficult task … if he expects to invest the UN with renewed credibility,” says Christopher Preble, director of foreign studies at the Cato Institute in Washington. “The UN is a weak and fractured institution” of “limited power and credibility,” he adds, saying that the US has been as responsible for that weakness as other countries.
In his speech, Obama pledged a new era of US multilateral action based on “four pillars” of major challenges: nonproliferation, peace and security, preservation of planet, and global prosperity.
On nuclear proliferation, Obama said, the next 12 months could be “pivotal”: The UN is set to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty next year, and the US and Russia are poised to agree on further reductions in their arsenals. But the challenge posed by Iran’s and North Korea‘s nuclear programs are also part of the challenge, he said, and go to the heart of the “responsibility” of all nations to act in ways that solve the world’s challenges.
“A world in which international demands are ignored will leave us all less safe,” he said, referring to Iran and North Korea by name and to their flaunting of Security Council resolutions. “If nations put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of the prosperity of their own people, then they must be held accountable,” he added. “Treaties will be enforced.”
Obama dedicated a large chunk of his speech to his efforts to find peace in the Middle East, placing resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the context of his theme global responsibility.
And he acknowledged his personal popularity around the world, but he insisted that the “expectations about my presidency are not about me” but about rejection of an unsatisfactory status quo in the world – and “the hope that real change in possible.”
To underscore his theme, Obama quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt, saying, “The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man … or one nation,” but must be “the cooperative effort of the whole world.”