NEW DELHI: United States President Barack Obama on Wednesday, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, focused on making the world “freer and safer.” In doing so, Obama highlighted the need to address three major global threats: the ebola virus, Russia, and Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq.

“[T]here is a pervasive unease in our world – a sense that the very forces that have brought us together have created new dangers, and made it difficult for any single nation to insulate itself from global forces. As we gather here, an outbreak of Ebola overwhelms public health systems in West Africa, and threatens to move rapidly across borders. Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition. The brutality of terrorists in Syria and Iraq forces us to look into the heart of darkness,” Obama said.

Obama pinned the blame for these problems on a “failure of our international system to keep pace with an interconnected world.” On the ebola virus, Obama said, “As we speak, America is deploying our doctors and scientists – supported by our military – to help contain the outbreak of Ebola and pursue new treatments. But we need a broader effort to stop a disease that could kill hundreds of thousands, inflict horrific suffering, destabilize economies, and move rapidly across borders. It’s easy to see this as a distant problem – until it isn’t. That is why we will continue mobilizing other countries to join us in making concrete commitments to fight this outbreak, and enhance global health security for the long-term.”

The US President’s speech hit out Russia over the Ukraine crisis, with Obama saying, “After the people of Ukraine mobilized popular protests and calls for reform, their corrupt President fled. Against the will of the government in Kiev, 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.”

Asking Russia to take the part of diplomacy, “a path that for stretches of the post-Cold War period resulted in prosperity for the Russian people,” Obama said “then we will lift our sanctions and welcome Russia’s role in addressing common challenges.”

Continuing to criticise Russia’s actions, Obama said, “America stands for something different. We believe that right makes might – that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones; that people should be able to choose their own future.”

Ironically, the focus of Obama’s speech -- US response to terrorism and specifically, the Islamic State and Al Qaeda -- contradicts the previous statement, as the Obama administration’s decision to bomb Syria is without a UN mandate, and would be considered a measure of “bullying” by the Bashar al Assad government who did not ask for, and perhaps did not even approve, the air strikes on its territory.

Further, President Obama in his six years in power has been responsible for strikes in five other countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Further, the US is militarily involved in 134 countries, either in combat, special missions or advising and training foreign forces.

Nevertheless, Obama outlined “four areas” to meet the challenge posed by the IS (also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant ISIL, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS).

“First, the terrorist group known as ISIL must be degraded, and ultimately destroyed,” Obama said, elaborating that “we will support Iraqis and Syrians fighting to reclaim their communities. We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL. We will train and equip forces fighting against these terrorists on the ground. We will work to cut off their financing, and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region.”

Obama said that over 40 nations had agreed to join the US coalition in its fight against the IS, but stopped short of giving specifics.

“Second, it is time for the world – especially Muslim communities – to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of al Qaeda and ISIL,” Obama continued.

This point focused on funding for the Islamic State, with Obama asking “to end the hypocrisy of those who accumulate wealth through the global economy, and then siphon funds to those who teach children to tear it down.” The point also commented on the use of social media, asking people to contest the space “that terrorists occupy.” “The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day,” Obama said.

“Third, we must address the cycle of conflict – especially sectarian conflict – that creates the conditions that terrorists prey upon,” Obama said.

The focus of this point was Syria and Iraq. “rutal civil war in Syria has already killed nearly 200,000 people and displaced millions. Iraq has come perilously close to plunging back into the abyss. The conflict has created a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists who inevitably export this violence,” Obama warned.

Saying that this trend could be reversed and that the new inclusive government in Iraq was an example of this reversal, Obama continued on to Syria saying, “ogether with our partners, America is training and equipping the Syrian opposition to be a counterweight to the terrorists of ISIL and the brutality of the Assad regime.”

“The countries of the Arab and Muslim world must focus on the extraordinary potential of their people – especially the youth,” Obama said as his final point. “You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder. Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition, not defending it,” the President reasoned.

“Where women are full participants in a country’s politics or economy, societies are more likely to succeed,” Obama said. He further clarified that embracing these ideals was not in contradiction to the teachings of Islam or any religion. “Such positive change need not come at the expense of tradition and faith.”

In addition to these three global challenges, Obama touched on the issue of climate change, reiterating that America will do its part by “pursuing ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions, and we have increased our investments in clean energy.” In the speech Obama further pledged to address world poverty, saying it was “committed to a development agenda that eradicates extreme poverty by 2030.” The US President also commented on Iran’s nuclear programme, as nuclear negotiations faced a setback on Monday, saying “America is pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, as part of our commitment to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and pursue the peace and security of a world without them. This can only happen if Iran takes this historic opportunity. My message to Iran’s leaders and people is simple: do not let this opportunity pass. We can reach a solution that meets your energy needs while assuring the world that your program is peaceful.” obama