World leaders meet in United States

October 1st, 2009

President Barack Obama called for a new era in global relations last Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.  

In his first speech to the U.N. as President, Obama said that the world must work together to tackle major issues. He said, “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Dean Birch, a political science professor at John Carroll University, said, “He [President Obama] has presented to the body that ‘Yes, we are going to do things differently’ and they were happy that this administration is bringing other countries on-board and gotten away from the more unilateral approach of President Bush.”

According to CNN, Obama sought to distance himself from the more one-sided policies of his predecessor. These policies, the President maintained, generated distrust in America that often served as an excuse for the U.N.’s inaction.  

However, he responded, “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.”

The President also addressed a variety of issues that are facing the world today, including long-running conflicts, terrorism and nuclear proliferation. He specifically cited Iran and North Korea, claiming that their governments, “must be held accountable” if they continue to ignore international nuclear weapons treatises.

One victory gained by Obama came from his Wednesday afternoon meeting with Russian President Dimitri A. Medvedev.  

According to The New York Times, Medvedev admitted for the first time that his government would support U.S.-requested tougher sanctions on Iran if next month’s nuclear plans fail to make progress.

This encouraging news from the usually problematic Russian administration comes almost immediately after Obama’s decision to scrap its plan to install missile bases in the Czech Republic and Poland. 

Russia had been adamantly opposed to the missile bases, which it claims would have violated its sphere of influence and threaten its security.

Birch said of Obama’s meeting with Medvedev, “I think this was significant. I think it was a good move in terms of gathering international support to confront Iran.”

The U.N. meeting also achieved some progress on the issue of climate change. Most global leaders, including those of Japan, China and Europe, have promised to take serious action to combat climate change.

This cooperation comes at an important time in the climate change debate, as world leaders will meet in Copenhagen in December to try and hash out a global plan to combat climate change.

The United Nations, however, was not the only event attended by Obama this past week. The G-20 conference took place in Pittsburgh over the weekend as well. Here, representatives from the 20 leading global economies met to discuss economic issues facing the world today.

On Friday, the group agreed on a new effort intended to revamp the economic system and will lead to much stricter regulation over financial institutions.  

Shortly after the meeting, Obama said, “We have achieved a level of tangible, global economic cooperation that we’ve never seen before. Our financial system will be far different and more secure than the one that failed so dramatically last year.”

Global leaders vowed to change their economic policies in an attempt to reduce large financial imbalances.  

According to a New York Times article, the United States will be expected to increase its savings rate, reduce its trade deficit, and address its huge budget deficit, while other countries, like Germany and China, will have to curb their dependence on exports.

Other announcements coming out of the G-20 include a new “peer review” on countries’ economic policies and the requirement for institutions to keep bigger cash reserves to reduce risk-taking and serve as a buffer against unexpected losses.