President Obama’s Security Speech

Remarks by the President on the Administration’s Approach to Counter-terrorism

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release-December 06, 2016

MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat. Well, thank you so much.

Good afternoon, everybody. I was just told that was going to be the last “Hail to the Chief” on the road, and it got me kind of sentimental. I want to first and foremost say thanks to all of you. Just before I came here, I was able to visit with some of the men and women from MacDill Air Force Base, Central Command, our Special Operations Command to thank them for their extraordinary service. And so to you and your families, and to the extended family of American servicemembers, let me say that our nation owes you an unbelievable debt of gratitude. We are grateful for you, and will be praying for you over the holidays. (Applause.)

As you know all too well, your mission — and the course of history — was changed after the 9/11 attacks. By the time I took office, the United States had been at war for seven years. For eight years that I’ve been in office, there has not been a day when a terrorist organization or some radicalized individual was not plotting to kill Americans. And on January 20th, I will become the first President of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war. (Applause.) Now, we did not choose this fight, but once it came to us, the world saw the measure of our resolve.

Continue reading “President Obama’s Security Speech”

President Obama's Remarks on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

The Bible tells us, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Ten years ago, America confronted one of our darkest nights. Mighty towers crumbled. Black smoke billowed up from the Pentagon. Airplane wreckage smoldered on a Pennsylvania field. Friends and neighbors, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – they were taken from us with heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty. On September 12, 2001, we awoke to a world in which evil was closer at hand, and uncertainty clouded our future.

In the decade since, much has changed for Americans. We’ve known war and recession, passionate debates and political divides. We can never get back the lives that were lost on that day, or the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the wars that followed.

And yet today, it is worth remembering what has not changed. Our character as a nation has not changed. Our faith – in God and each other – that has not changed. Our belief in America, born of a timeless ideal that men and women should govern themselves; that all people are created equal, and deserve the same freedom to determine their own destiny – that belief, through tests and trials, has only been strengthened.

These past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear. The rescue workers who rushed to the scene; the firefighters who charged up the stairs; the passengers who stormed the cockpit – these patriots defined the very nature of courage. Over the years we have also seen a more quiet form of heroism – in the ladder company that lost so many men and still suits up and saves lives every day; the businesses that have rebuilt from nothing; the burn victim who has bounced back; the families that press on.

Last spring, I received a letter from a woman named Suzanne Swaine. She had lost her husband and brother in the Twin Towers, and said that she had been robbed of “so many would-be proud moments where a father watches their child graduate, or tend goal in a lacrosse game, or succeed academically.” But her daughters are in college, the other doing well in high school. “It has been 10 years of raising these girls on my own,” Suzanne wrote. “I could not be prouder of their strength and resilience.” That spirit typifies our American family. And the hopeful future for those girls is the ultimate rebuke to the hateful killers who took the life of their father.

These past ten years have shown America’s resolve to defend its citizens, and our way of life. Diplomats serve in far-off posts, and intelligence professionals work tirelessly without recognition. Two million Americans have gone to war since 9/11. They have demonstrated that those who do us harm cannot hide from the reach of justice, anywhere in the world. America has been defended not by conscripts, but by citizens who choose to serve – young people who signed up straight out of high school; guardsmen and reservists; workers and businesspeople; immigrants and fourth-generation soldiers. They are men and women who left behind lives of comfort for two, three, four or five tours of duty. Too many will never come home. Those that do carry dark memories from distant places, and the legacy of fallen friends. Continue reading “President Obama's Remarks on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11”

Uri Avnery’s peace proposal

MEMO FOR OBAMA ON ISRAEL

For: the President-Elect, Mr. Barack Obama.

From: Uri Avnery, Israel.

The following humble suggestions are based on my 70 years of experience as an underground fighter, special forces soldier in the 1948 war, editor-in-chief of a newsmagazine, member of the Knesset and founding member of a peace movement:

-1- As far as Israeli-Arab peace is concerned, you should act from Day One.

-2- Israeli elections are due to take place in February 2009. You can have an indirect but important and constructive impact on the outcome, by announcing your unequivocal determination to achieve Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-all-Arab peace in 2009.

-3- Unfortunately, all your predecessors since 1967 have played a double game. While paying lip service to peace, and sometimes going through the motions of making some effort for peace, they have in practice supported our governments in moving in the very opposite direction. In particular, they have given tacit approval to the building and enlargement of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories, each of which is a land mine on the road to peace.

-4- All the settlements are illegal in international law. The distinction sometimes made between “illegal” outposts and the other settlements is a propaganda ploy designed to obscure this simple truth.

-5- All the settlements since 1967 have been built with the express purpose of making a Palestinian state – and hence peace – impossible, by cutting the territory of the prospective State of Palestine into ribbons. Practically all our government departments and the army have openly or secretly helped to build, consolidate and enlarge the settlements – as confirmed by the 2005 report prepared for the government (!) by Lawyer Talia Sasson.

-6- By now, the number of settlers in the West Bank has reached some 250,000 (apart from the 200,000 settlers in the Greater Jerusalem area, whose status is somewhat different.) They are politically isolated, and sometimes detested by the majority of the Israel public, but enjoy significant support in the army and government ministries.

-7- No Israeli government would dare to confront the concentrated political and material might of the settlers. Such a confrontation would need very strong leadership and the unstinting support of the President of the United States to have any chance of success.

-8- Lacking these, all “peace negotiations” are a sham. The Israeli government and its US backers have done everything possible to prevent the negotiations with both the Palestinians and the Syrians from reaching any conclusion, for fear of provoking a confrontation with the settlers and their supporters. The present “Annapolis” negotiations are as hollow as all the preceding ones, each side keeping up the pretense for its own political interests.

-9- The Clinton administration, and even more so the Bush administration, allowed the Israeli government to keep up this pretense. It is therefore imperative to prevent members of these administrations from diverting your Middle Eastern policy into the old channels.

-10- It is important for you to make a complete new start, and to state this publicly. Discredited ideas and failed initiatives – such as the Bush “vision”, the Road Map, Annapolis and the like – should by thrown into the junkyard of history.

-11- To make a new start, the aim of American policy should be stated clearly and succinctly. This should be: to achieve a peace based on the Two-State Solution within a defined time-span (say by the end of 2009).

-12- It should be pointed out that this aim is based on a reassessment of the American national interest, in order to extract the poison from American-Arab and American-Muslim relations, strengthen peace-oriented regimes, defeat al-Qaeda-type terrorism, end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and achieve a viable accommodation with Iran.

-13- The terms of Israeli-Palestinian peace are clear. They have been crystallized in thousands of hours of negotiations, conferences, meetings and conversations. They are:

13.1 A sovereign and viable State of Palestine will be established side by side with the State of Israel.

13.2 The border between the two states will be based on the pre-1967 Armistice Line (the “Green Line”). Insubstantial alterations can be arrived at by mutual agreement on an exchange of territories on a 1:1 basis.

13.3 East Jerusalem, including the Haram-al-Sharif (“Temple Mount”) and all Arab neighborhoods will serve as the capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and all Jewish neighborhoods, will serve as the capital of Israel. A joint municipal authority, based on equality, may be established by mutual consent to administer the city as one territorial unit.

13.4 All Israeli settlements – except any which might be joined to Israel in the framework of a mutually agreed exchange of territories – will be evacuated (see 15 below).

13.5 Israel will recognize in principle the right of the refugees to return. A Joint Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, composed of Palestinian, Israeli and international historians, will examine the events of 1948 and 1967 and determine who was responsible for what. Each individual refugee will be given the choice between (1) repatriation to the State of Palestine, (2) remaining where he/she is living now and receiving generous compensation, (3) returning to Israel and being resettled, (4) emigrating to any other country, with generous compensation. The number of refugees who will return to Israeli territory will be fixed by mutual agreement, it being understood that nothing will be done that materially alters the demographic composition of the Israeli population. The large funds needed for the implementation of this solution must be provided by the international community in the interest of world peace. This will save much of the money spent today on military expenditure and direct grants from the US.

13.6 The West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip constitute one national unit. An extraterritorial connection (road, railway, tunnel or bridge) will connect the West Bank with the Gaza Strip.

13.7 Israel and Syria will sign a peace agreement. Israel will withdraw to the pre-1967 line and all settlements on the Golan Heights will be dismantled. Syria will cease all anti-Israeli activities conducted directly or by proxy. The two parties will establish normal relations between them.

13.8 In accordance with the Saudi Peace Initiative, all member states of the Arab League will recognize Israel and establish normal relations with it. Talks about a future Middle Eastern Union, on the model of the EU, possibly to include Turkey and Iran, may be considered.

-14- Palestinian unity is essential for peace. Peace made with only one section of the people is worthless. The US will facilitate Palestinian reconciliation and the unification of Palestinian structures. To this end, the US will end its boycott of Hamas, which won the last elections, start a political dialogue with the movement and encourage Israel to do the same. The US will respect any result of democratic Palestinian elections.

-15- The US will aid the government of Israel in confronting the settlement problem. As from now, settlers will be given one year to leave the occupied territories voluntarily in return for compensation that will allow them to build their homes in Israel proper. After that, all settlements – except those within any areas to be joined to Israel under the peace agreement – will be evacuated.

-16- I suggest that you, as President of the United States, come to Israel and address the Israeli people personally, not only from the rostrum of the Knesset but also at a mass rally in Tel-Aviv’s Rabin Square. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt came to Israel in 1977, and, by addressing the Israeli people directly, completely changed their attitude towards peace with Egypt. At present, most Israelis feel insecure, uncertain and afraid of any daring peace initiative, partly because of a deep distrust of anything coming from the Arab side. Your personal intervention, at the critical moment, could literally do wonders in creating the psychological basis for peace.

This article was published in the current issue of the progressive Jewish-American monthly TIKKUN.

Millions in Hunger

Food Crisis Is Depicted As ‘Silent Tsunami’
Sharp Price Hikes Leave Many Millions in Hunger

By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, April 23, 2008; A01

LONDON, April 22 — More than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a “silent tsunami” of sharply rising food prices, which have sparked riots around the world and threaten U.N.-backed feeding programs for 20 million children, the top U.N. food official said Tuesday.

“This is the new face of hunger — the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are,” Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), said at a London news conference. “The world’s misery index is rising.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, hosting Sheeran and other private and government experts at his 10 Downing Street offices, said the growing food crisis has pushed prices to their highest levels since 1945 and rivals the current global financial turmoil as a threat to world stability.

“Hunger is a moral challenge to each one of us as global citizens, but it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of poor nations around the world,” Brown said, adding that 25,000 people a day are dying of conditions linked to hunger.

“With one child dying every five seconds from hunger-related causes, the time to act is now,” Brown said, pledging $60 million in emergency aid to help the WFP feed the poor in Africa and Asia, where in some nations the prices of many food staples have doubled in the past six months.

Brown said the “vast” food crisis was threatening to reverse years of progress to create stronger middle classes around the world and lift millions of people out of poverty.

Prices for basic food supplies such as rice, wheat and corn have skyrocketed in recent months, driven by a complex set of factors including sharply rising fuel prices, droughts in key food-producing countries, ballooning demand in emerging nations such as China and India, and the diversion of some crops to produce biofuels.

Sheeran noted that the United States, which she said provides half of the world’s food assistance, has pledged $200 million in emergency food aid and that Congress was considering an additional appropriation.

Holding up the kind of plastic cup that the WFP uses to feed millions of children, Sheeran told reporters that the price of a metric ton of rice in parts of Asia had risen from $460 to $1,000 in less than two months.

“People are simply being priced out of food markets,” she said.

The WFP has budgeted $2.9 billion this year — all from donor nations — to conduct its feeding programs around the world, including large efforts in Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and other nations that could not otherwise feed themselves.

Sheeran said soaring prices mean that the WFP needs an additional $755 million to meet its needs. That “food gap” jumped from $500 million just two months ago as prices keep rising, she said.

“We hope we have reached a plateau, but this is a rapidly evolving situation,” she said, adding that the WFP was urgently seeking contributions to make up the difference as the situation becomes more dire in poor countries such as Bangladesh and Afghanistan that are heavily dependent on imported food.

Sheeran said the WFP’s main focus was on the “ultra-poor,” those who earn less than 50 cents a day. She said rising food prices meant millions of people earning less than $2 a day were giving up health care and education. Those living on less than $1 a day were giving up meat and vegetables, and those living on less than 50 cents were facing increasingly desperate hunger.

Hunger and anger have led to violence recently in Haiti, where food riots this month resulted in several deaths, as well as Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Egypt, Indonesia and Senegal. Argentina’s attempt to control rising prices led to a strike by producers.

The WFP is already being forced to cut back on school feeding programs that serve 20 million children, Sheeran said. Without more emergency funding, she said, a feeding program in Cambodia would be eliminated and programs in places such as Kenya and Tajikistan would be cut in half.

“These are heartbreaking decisions to have to make,” Sheeran said. “We need all the help we can get from the governments of the world who can afford to do so.”

Sheeran said rising fuel and fertilizer prices were adding to the misery. She said she recently returned from a trip to Kenya’s Rift Valley, where the cost of fertilizer has climbed 135 percent since December.

That increase, along with rising prices for seed and diesel, led farmers to plant only one-third the crops they planted last year — a pattern being repeated around the world, she said.

“Farmers have no access to credit, so when prices go up, they can’t afford to plant,” she said, urging governments, particularly in developing nations, to invest more in programs to support domestic agriculture.

“I think much of the world is waking up to the fact that food doesn’t spontaneously show up on grocery store shelves,” she said.

In some parts of the world, Sheeran said, the WFP needs to provide food to people who have none. In other countries, she said, food is plentiful but prices have risen so much that people cannot afford it. She said the WFP is considering programs in those countries to provide cash assistance or emergency food vouchers.

Food experts have said such programs could help lower domestic food prices without hurting local farmers — the kind of balance Sheeran said WFP officials are trying to strike as they deal with a crisis that has different faces in different parts of the world.

The increasing use of crops to produce biofuels has been criticized as contributing to food shortages. While Britain and the European Union have called for greater use of biofuels, Brown said Tuesday that “we need to look closely at the impact on food prices and the environment.”

“If our U.K. review shows that we need to change our approach, we will also push for change in E.U. biofuels targets,” he said.

Rising Prices, Rising Anger

Wednesday, April 23, 2008; A13

Surging food and fuel prices have sparked protests in many countries. Here are some key events this year:

Cameroon

At least 24 people were killed during protests that erupted in February and were linked to rising living costs. In response, the government raised state salaries and suspended customs duties on basic foodstuffs.

Mozambique

At least six people died in February in unrest over high fuel prices and living costs. The government agreed to cut the price of diesel fuel for minibus taxis.

Peru

Farmers, upset by rising fertilizer costs and seeking debt relief, blocked key rail and road links in February.

Ivory Coast

Police fired tear gas in Abidjan last month to disperse demonstrators angry over steep price increases.

Burkina Faso

Unions called a general strike earlier this month over soaring costs of food and fuel that had triggered riots in February. The government extended a suspension of import duties on staple foods.

South Africa

Thousands of members of the national labor federation marched through Johannesburg earlier this month to protest higher food and electricity prices.

Haiti

Protests over high rice prices brought down the prime minister April 12. At least six people were killed in two weeks of riots and demonstrations in the poorest country in the Americas.

SOURCE: Reuters