By Kerry Toribio
Local and Current Affairs editor
In an address to the United Nation on Monday, President Barack Obama took repeated swipes at Vladimir Putin, Dick Cheney, and even Donald Trump, without mentioning them by name. He held them up as examples of forces playing off fears and attempting to pull the country and world backward. Putin focused on Obama, as he railed against regimes that repress information and jail dissidents, lighting into the people who prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad “because the alternative is surely worse.”
Obama mocked Putin’s state-run media for portraying the Ukraine move as proof of a resurgent Russia, noting that it only drove Ukraine closer to Europe and led to sanctions that had crippled the economy in Moscow. Obama is set to meet with Putin later in the day, ending a year of estrangement over Ukraine. Obama invoked the invasion of Iraq as an example of how the United States itself stumbled by going against international law, saying that American leadership had failed with consequences that continue to cause ripples. A key figure pushing for the invasion was then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who showed little concern for international law. “Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international principles … we will not succeed,” Obama said. “Any order that our militaries will impose will be temporary.”
The president’s speech centered on a call to action in Syria, calling Assad a “tyrant” who must be removed, with the entire international community coming together to help make that happen. “When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs,” Obama said.
Putin responded by saying, “the chaos in the Middle East is not caused by Russia propping up dictators, but because the United States created power vacuums by violating international law and invading Iraq, as well as by not doing enough to stabilize countries like Libya after the removal of dictators.”