President Obama is drawing attention mostly for his remarks on Middle East peace. But lest other elements of his UN speech be forgotten, at a press conference earlier today Samantha Power urged people to examine his pronouncements on good governance.
As Power explained, the second half of his speech was largely a reaction to a disturbing trend in which governments are increasingly clamping down on civic rights. “The governance picture is not looking that good,” she said. “We are living in a moment…in which authoritarian governments are learning from each other in putting restrictions on civil society.”
Consider this part of Obama’s speech:
In times of economic unease, there can also be an anxiety about human rights. Today, as in past times of economic downturn, some put human rights aside for the promise of short term stability, or the false notion that economic growth can come at the expense of freedom. We see leaders abolishing term limits, crackdowns on civil society, and corruption smothering entrepreneurship and good governance. We see democratic reforms deferred indefinitely.
As it happened, moments after he spoke this passage, the insightful @laurenist tweeted, “Did Obama just call out [Rwandan President Paul] Kagame and the eradication of term limits? In the vaguest terms possible.”
It would appear so! Perhaps the next step is to be a bit more overt about it?