Whenever world leaders show up at United Nations Headquarters in New York City to speak in the UN general debate which ran from September 24 through October l this year, chances are, it will be the words of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama,that will get maximum visibility both heree and abroad. In this article, “Baltic Review” focuses on the exact words used by the US President to describe why “right makes might” and why America and its allies are supporting the people of Ukraine

This year during his address in the general debate of the sixty-ninth session of the UN General Assembly on September 24, President Obama said, “Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambitions.” However, at the same time he remarked in the newly renovated General Assembly Hall, that “the people of the world now look to us, here, to be as decent, and as dignified.and as courageous as they are trying to be in their daily lives.”

“First, all of us- big nations and small – must meet our responsibility to observe and enforce International norms. We are here because others realized that we gain more from cooperation than conquest. One hundred years ago, a World War claimed the lives of many millions proving that with the terrible power of modern weaponry, the cause of empire ultimately leads to the graveyard.

It would take another World War to roll back the forces of fascism, the nations of racial supremacy and form this United Nations to ensure that no nation can subjugate its neighbors and claim their territory.”

Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, addressing the general debate at UN Headquarters in New York on September 24. Photo/ Mark Garten
Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, addressing the general debate at UN Headquarters in New York on September 24. Photo/ Mark Garten

The President went on to say that “recently, Russia’s actions in Ukraine challenge this post-war order. Here are the facts. After the people of Ukraine mobilized popular protests and calls for reform, their corrupt president fled. Against the will of the government in Kyiv, Crimea was annexed, Russia poured arms into Eastern Ukraine, fueling violent separatists and a conflict that has killed thousands. When a civilian airliner was shot down from areas that these proxies controlled, they refused to allow access to the crash for days. When Ukraine started to reassert control over its territory, Russia gave up the pretense of merely supporting the separatists and moved troops across the border.”

As President Obama explained it, “this is a vision of the world in which might makes right – a world in which one’s nation’s borders can be redrawn by another,and civilized people are not allowed to recover the remains of their loved ones because of the truth that might be revealed. America stands for something different. We believe that right makes might – that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones, and that peoples should be able to choose their own future.”

The US President further stated: “And these are simple truths, but they must be defended. America and our allies will support the people of Ukraine as they develop their democracy and economy. We will reinforce our NATO Allies and uphold our commitment to collective self-defense. We will impose a cost on Russia for aggression, and we will counter falsehoods with the truth. And we will call upon others to join us on the right side of history – for while small gains can be won at the barrel of a gun, they will ultimately be turned back if enough voices support the freedom of nations and peoples to make their own decisions.”

In the remarks that followed, President Obama stated: “Moreover, a different path is available- the path of diplomacy and peace, and the ideals this institution is designed to uphold. The recent cease-fire agreement in Ukraine offers an opening to achieve those objectives.

If Russia takes that path – a path that for stretches of the post Cold War period resulted in prosperity for the Russian people –then we will lift our sanctions and welcome Russia’s role in addressing common challenges.”

“After all”,said President Obama, “that’s what the United States and Russia have been able to do in past years, from reducing our nuclear stockpiles to meeting our obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to cooperating to remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons. And that’s the kind of cooperation we are prepared to pursue again – if Russia changes course.”

Besides this article which focuses on a US perspective concerning the situation in Ukraine, “Baltic Review” expects to publish reports from the Baltic Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and other world leaders, in the weeks ahead.