By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 12, 2009
President Obama, speaking days after returning from his first overseas trip since taking office, said the most critical problems confronting the nation and the world can be solved only through international cooperation.
"These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone," Obama said yesterday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations."
Major obstacles such as climate change, the global financial crisis, terrorism and nuclear proliferation demand coordinated action to overcome, Obama said.
It was a point he made during his eight-day trip to Europe, Turkey and Iraq. As he appealed for international cooperation, Obama spoke candidly about American mistakes and noted that many nations now have a voice in shaping global policy.
His tone overseas drew sharp criticism from some analysts, who said Obama's approach diminished American power, even as it brought little of the help he sought for more economic stimulus spending and to fight extremists in Afghanistan.
But speaking during Passover and on the eve of Easter, Obama reaffirmed his stance.
"They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from or what faith we practice," Obama said.
The president said the world could ill afford to remain stuck on old disagreements.
"With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past one another. We can't afford to allow old differences to prevent us from making progress in areas of common concern. We can't afford to let walls of mistrust stand," he said. "Instead, we have to find -- and build on -- our mutual interests. For it is only when people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins."