September 25th, 2012
10:22 AM ET

Obama: Slain envoy's legacy 'will live on in the lives he touched'

Editor's note: President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. You can read a live blog of his remarks below or see his remarks in full here.

[Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET] President Obama pointed to all of the Libyans who supported America and showed their love of Ambassador Chris Stevens as further hope for the world. He's bringing the speech full circle by going back to the attacks in Benghazi.

"Today I promise you this – long after these killers are brought to justice, Chris Stevens’ legacy will live on in the lives he touched. In the tens of thousands who marched against violence through the streets of Benghazi; in the Libyans who changed their Facebook photo to one of Chris; in the sign that read, simply, Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans,'" Obama said. "They should give us hope. They should remind us that so long as we work for it justice will be done; that history is on our side; and that a rising tide of liberty will never be reversed.""

[Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET] President Obama is talking about the hope he sees in the communities around the world like Jakarta, Seoul, Prague and others.

"These men, women and children of every race and every faith remind me that for every angry mob that gets shown on television, there are billions around the globe who share similar hopes and dreams. They tell us that there is a common heartbeat to humanity," he said. "So much attention in our world turns to what divides us. That’s what we see on the news, and that consumes our political debates. But when you strip that all away, people everywhere long for the freedom to determine their destiny; the dignity that comes with work; the comfort that comes from faith; and the justice that exists when governments serve their people – and not the other way around."

[Updated at 10:48 a.m. ET] President Obama says that while he has seen a lot of troubling things in recent times, he believes he has witnessed a similar amount of progress that leaves him hopeful.

"The war in Iraq is over, and our troops have come home. We have begun a transition in Afghanistan, and America and our allies will end our war on schedule in 2014," Obama said. "Al Qaeda has been weakened and Osama bin Laden is no more. Nations have come together to lock down nuclear materials, and America and Russia are reducing our arsenals. I’ve seen hard choices made – from Naypyidaw to Cairo to Abidjan – to put more power in the hands of citizens."

[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] President Obama is now addressing the concerns about a  nuclear Iran and the policies and ideology of leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads. The Iranian people have a remarkable and ancient history, and many Iranians wish to enjoy peace and prosperity alongside their neighbors. But just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government props up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad," Obama said. "Time and again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful, and to meet its obligations to the United Nations."

Obama said that he would like to solve these issues with diplomacy - and it is still possible.

"But that time is not unlimited. We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace," Obama said. "Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained."

[Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET] Obama is now talking about the conflict in Syria.

"The future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people. If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings," Obama said. "And we must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence. "

Deaths mounting in Syrian towns; children being tortured, U.N. official says 

[Updated at 10:44 a.m. ET] Obama is now addressing the peace process in Israel.

"Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, and those who reject the right of Israel to exist," he said. "The road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine. Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey."

[Updated at 10:42 a.m. ET] President Obama is referencing a quote by Gandhi: "Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit."

Obama says that we must all not just condemn the recent video and slander of Islam.

"Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims," he said.

[Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET] President Obama warned that while violence may initially be voiced against the West it will eventually spread if nothing is done.

"The same impulses toward extremism are used to justify war between Sunnis and Shia, between tribes and clans. It leads not to strength and prosperity but to chaos," Obama said. "In less than two years, we have seen largely peaceful protests bring more change to Muslim-majority countries than a decade of violence. Extremists understand this. And because they have nothing to offer to improve the lives of people, violence is their only way to stay relevant. They do not build, they only destroy."

He called on leaders and those who have protested during the Arab spring to reclaim the future.

"The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt – it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted 'Muslims, Christians, we are one.'  The future must not belong to those who bully women – it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons," Obama said. "The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources – it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs; workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the men and women that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support."

[Updated at 10:38 a.m. ET] President Obama said that all world leaders have an interest in standing together against extremists.

"A politics based only on anger –one based on dividing the world between us and them – not only sets back international cooperation, it ultimately undermines those who tolerate it," Obama said. "All of us have an interest in standing up to these forces. Let us remember that Muslims have suffered the most at the hands of extremism. On the same day our civilians were killed in Benghazi, a Turkish police officer was murdered in Istanbul only days before his wedding; more than ten Yemenis were killed in a car bomb in Sana’a; and several Afghan children were mourned by their parents just days after they were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul."

[Updated at 10:36 a.m. ET] President Obama said the recent tensions means world leaders must have a serious discussion about how nations can move towards democracy.

"Just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not, and will not, seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad, and we do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue," Obama said. "Nor do we assume that the violence of the past weeks, or the hateful speech by some individuals, represents the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims– any more than the views of the people who produced this video represent those of Americans."

But Obama said there is still plenty that he and other leaders can do to move the world forward together.

" do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders, in all countries, to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism,' he said. "It is time to marginalize those who – even when not resorting to violence – use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel as a central principle of politics. For that only gives cover, and sometimes makes excuses, for those who resort to violence."

[Updated at 10:34 a.m. ET] President Obama said it is important to know that restricting the video that caused anger among Muslims is not the answer.

"In a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech," he said.

Obama acknowledged that the wide free speech the United States enjoys is not well understood everywhere around the world. But he added that right now the response to the video is critical.

"In 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete," he said. "The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence."

[Updated at 10:32 a.m. ET] President Obama is now talking about the "crude and disgusting" video that sparked protests in many Muslim countries around the world.

"I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity," Obama said. "That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and every faith."

[Updated at 10:29 a.m. ET] President Obama said recent successes show "this is a season of progress."

"For the first time in decades, Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans voted for new leaders in elections that were credible, competitive, and fair. This democratic spirit has not been restricted to the Arab World," he said.

But Obama said that elections alone will not change anything. And he pointed to the attack in Libya and protests around the globe as an example.

"The turmoil of recent weeks reminds us that the path to democracy does not end with the casting of a ballot," he said.

Obama then quoted Nelson Mandela who said “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

The UNGA applauded after he read the Mandela line.

[Updated at 10:27 a.m. ET] President Barack Obama is not speaking about all of the events that led to and eventually became the Arab spring. He references the vendor in Tunisia who set himself on fire, sparking the revolutions across the Middle East.

" We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator, because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspirations of men and women who took to the streets," he said.

How a fruit seller caused revolution in Tunisia 

"We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy put us on the side of the people. We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen, because the interests of the people were not being served by a corrupt status quo. We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the U.N. Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents; and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant," Obama said. "And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin."

[Updated at 10:26 a.m. ET] President Obama told the U.N. General Assembly that platitudes are not enough when it comes to a response to the attack.

"We must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis," Obama said. "Today, we must affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers. Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations."

[Updated at 10:24 a.m. ET] Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya, embodied the best of America, President Obama said.

"The attacks on our civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America," Obama said. "We are grateful for the assistance we received from the Libyan government and from the Libyan people. There should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice. I also appreciate that in recent days, the leaders of other countries in the region – including Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen – have taken steps to secure our diplomatic facilities, and called for calm. So have religious authorities around the globe."

Obama said the attack should be something not just those in the U.S. are outraged about.

"The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America," Obama said. " They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded – the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war; and that in an interdependent world, all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens."

[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET]  President Obama said that Ambassador Chris Stevens came to Benghazi during the beginning of the revolution in Libya.

"As America’s representative, he helped the Libyan people as they coped with violent conflict, cared for the wounded, and crafted a vision for a future in which the rights of all Libyans would be respected," Obama said. "After the revolution, he supported the birth of a new democracy, as Libyans held elections, built new institutions, and began to move forward after decades of dictatorship."

[Updated at 10:22 a.m. ET] President Barack Obama began his address to the U.N. General Assembly by speaking about Ambassador Chris Stevens who was killed in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

"He came to love and respect the people of North Africa and the Middle East, and he would carry that commitment throughout his life," Obama said. "As a diplomat, he worked from Egypt to Syria; from Saudi Arabia to Libya. He was known for walking the streets of the cities where he worked – tasting the local food, meeting as many people as he could, speaking Arabic, listening with a broad smile."

[Posted at 9:05 a.m. ET] The United States will "do what we must" to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, President Barack Obama is expected to tell the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday in a speech that will also touch heavily on the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya.

"We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace," Obama will tell U.N. delegates, according to excerpts of his planned remarks made available by the White House. "Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained."

Obama's scheduled speech comes on the opening day of the U.N. General Assembly debate session.

During the session, which ends October 1, world leaders will again take up a host of pressing humanitarian issues, including poverty, global warming and the prospect of renewed conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa. But the Middle East and the 18-month civil war in Syria are expected to remain center stage.

In his speech Tuesday morning, Obama is expected to say that while the United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution on Iran's nuclear program, "time is not unlimited."

While Iranian leaders say their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, Western leaders believe Tehran wants to build a nuclear weapon. U.N. inspectors also have expressed doubts about the program's aims.

The consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran are immense, Obama will tell delegates.

"It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty," the president will say.

Obama's speech comes on the heels of a series of confrontational statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who declared Monday that Israel has "no roots in the Middle East."

soundoff (391 Responses)
  1. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    The U.N. being the sole power to run the world "IS" part of the communists' manifest destiny. They have waited 10,000 years to dominate the world. What's a few more days to wait while someone trys to "resurrect" bin-Laden, to "use" his infamy, but doesn't tell you about the thousand more to take his place. So Karl Marx will address the U.N. to make a utopian punch for peace.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |

      You obviously went into the fridge this morning and took a big gulp of imbecile.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dav

    obama you are a lying politician whose administraion is a total failure.You have done nothing to stop terrorist activity and stop Irans necular buildup.The American worker is going to throw you out Nov 2012.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • TBinNJ

      Hmmm....nothing to stop terrorist actvity. How about completely wiping out the leadership of Al Qaeda. And again....are you suggesting war with Iran? If not, what's your proposal?

      September 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      dav you are a disgrace to your country and for insulting your leader.... come novembeer you will be shame...

      September 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    Never has someone spoken so many words, but said so little of importance. The main problem Obama now has is that he has no credibility. After seeing the middle east descend into protest against America, its hard to believe anything Obama has to say.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • TBinNJ

      Riiight.....cause there were never any protests at U.S. embassies under the previous President. Maybe if Obama talked tougher, the Muslims would all be scared and refrain from protesting. Unreal.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. big jebb

    why would a muslim dog hunt down other muslim dogs

    September 25, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • StoptheLies 12

      You know it is amazing all of the racist comments and hate that are posted on this site by Romney supporters. I am a republican that respects all to have have freedom of religion and don't hate all muslims. Obama is not a muslim, but it is convenient for some like Big JEBB. I know you are not related to the Bushs, they would never call a muslim a dog. They care about people of all races. But because of our republican candidate who will do and say anything to win, he wants folks like you to support him. Guess no room for those of us who are fair and can see Romney for who he is A LIAR!

      September 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ram Riva

    amazing how the haters will spin everything the President said......they don't listen....they just hate...bloggers like dav and bob.....listen to your candidate last one.....planes should have windows that open....LOL LOL LO Robin Williams said....Romney is taking Bush's place......he is now the comedy pinata....

    September 25, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    Obama, stop talking and start doing. We are tired of all the talk and no real action.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Barstow

      Commander in Speech

      September 25, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • big jebb

      he won't because he is a coward

      September 25, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • mcskadittle

      right because we need another war in the middle east, are you willing to send your son?

      September 25, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • TonyInNYC

      What action do you want to see?

      September 25, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • StoptheLies 12

      I guess I am the only republican in history who realizes that Mitt Romney has not given on plan on how he is going to do all of the things he promises. I am tired of his speech and no action. What cuts is he making, what about the voucher system and cuts to medicaid. One thing about George Bush, we knew he stood and with our flip-flapper candidate the reason we are going to lose is because of his lies and deceit. He doesn't care about anyone other than his pocket book!

      September 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • TBinNJ

      Michael: What should we do? Start a war? Serious question. I haven't seen one rightie propose an alterative course of action.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chuck

    Hey, I know. Let's ask Osama Bin Laden about how relentless Obama is at hunting down and killing terrorists... oh wait... you can't... cause he's dead.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Barstow

      Yes he is, thank you Navy Seals.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Frangible

      More like "thank you CIA". You both have it wrong. The SEALs had a minor part in it and couldn't even stop themselves from leaking operational details a short time later. The hardest part was finding Bin Laden. Not killing him or giving the order to kill him.

      Much like the Manhattan Project, it was knowledge and science that created victory, not a politician's speech or a grunt staring at the world down the barrel of a gun.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Barstow

      Yes he is, thank you CIA.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JCDavis

    I'm sure the whole world wants to hear how much we loved our ambassador and that we're going to smash heads over it. Of course, Obama prettied up the language with this "history is on our side" business. As for democracy, we supported dictators for sixty years because we didn't trust it. Bush said good things about it because he needed a justification for Iraq. Obama is saying good things about it because he has no choice in the matter.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. dav

    obama is acommunist,his administration is geared to one thing bying votes from illegal aliens,those who will not work and the metally gualible.Bye fool obama 2012

    September 25, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. zzxzzc

    You go get em Obama ,you big tough old leader you!

    September 25, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bullchit

    the united states shouldn't have to relentlessly pursue any killers. There should have been some roof mounted m134's to alleviate any breaches...

    September 25, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. usa

    The president needed to speak directly to the American people about the horrendous acts in the Middle East against our Ambassador before speaking at the United Nations. He is grandstanding – that's all he knows how to do. He is not a leader – this country, and our service men and women deserve and need a strong leader – it is embarassing and nauseating to hear him speak.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • M Thompson

      Well said!

      September 25, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • january2454

      Yes, it is. Embarrassing and nauseating. Yet again, the nut job from Tehran, Ahmadinejad, told the UN said Israel will be "eliminated" from the face of the earth. And yet the poser in the White House - the alleged president - has no time to meet with Israel's leader. I cannot stand the sight or sound of Barack Obama. I will be so glad when he is a footnote in history. O ne B ig A zz M istake America.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • JCDavis

      If you have a better leader in mind, get him to run for president.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Segeny

      And how about his statement in his UN speech that "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

      Any bets on whether this muslim excuser/apologist/enabler will support the mullahs' proposal to make "insulting" I-Slam an international crime?

      September 25, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • TonyInNYC

      Did you watch the broadcast of President Obama speaking at Andrews Air Force Base on September 14?

      September 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • StoptheLies 12

      You know it is a shame Laura when folks like you watch Fox so much, you believe everything it says. Obama spoke at the ceremony and said the same thing. We have just got to stop as republicans pouncing on everything. We need to look at Romney and all of his lies and his daily flip-flapping on issues. He says one thing today and one thing tomorrow. He is an embarrassment to the republican party and is the biggest liar in American History. Chris Christie 2016

      September 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • hugh cree

      As President Obama flies about the US in Air-force 1, the 747, Campaigning , are we the taxpayer paying for these huge short flight operational costs? Of course we are! It's campaigning, those costs should be paid for by the his party, not the taxpayer.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • TBinNJ

      You people are so deranged. Pres Bush apologized vehemently to the Muslim world for the burning of Korans, etc. I'm sure you had no problem with that.....but now your personal hatred for our current President blinds you. It's really, truly scary that we can brainwash ourselves like this. I mean, you can't even bring yourself to give Obama any credit for Bin Laden......if Bush got him, you'd put him on Mt. Rushmore.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dav

    Marley you lie and twist facts almost as bad as Polosi and comrade obama.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Marley

      Google: Federal Bailout 10 MILLION that saved Bain Capital and Mitt Romney
      You can't lie about this stuff. It's in the FEDERAL RECORDS. Go research it.

      Google: Federal Bailout 2.7 BILLION that saved Utah Olympics and Mitt Romney

      CORPORATE WELFARE bums – like Mormon Bishop Mittens – get their money through their political connections. I wish I could buy a politician. Spend a million to make a billion!

      September 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robin1970

      You sound like one of those occupiers.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name s kel

      Lie???? The only LIERS AND PROVEN LIERS have been the republicans.The leading LIERS being ROMNEY/RYAN. But than you being a typical republican cannot and will not see that.

      September 27, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. NudeTruth

    Who cares.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. dav

    Rerrible speech obama

    September 25, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • StoptheLies 12

      Gosh, you guys got to stop lying and telling falsehoods about Obama. It's a shame the lies you guys are telling and the reason that you don't like Obama is not because of the lies but the color of his skin! TO Grampasez, I know why you have sez on the backside of your name. That is crazy and a racist comment you just made about Holder. You better get used to America because our party is dying 95% white, 5 % hispanicand 2% white and needs divesity to survive!

      September 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
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