Tags: Michael Hayden | Obama | UN Speech | World Affairs

Gen. Hayden: Obama UN Speech 'Elegant,' But Shows Lack of Participation

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Wednesday, 21 September 2016 10:34 AM

President Barack Obama's speech at the United Nations General Assembly was a good overview of world situations, but showed he has little willingness to participate in world affairs, retired Gen. Michael Hayden said Wednesday.

"I thought it was a very elegant speech in terms of its analysis of the global situation. But saying it hasn't made it so since the first six days of creation," the former CIA and National Security Agency director told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

"We have not participated in a meaningful way in a process that actually would help the circumstances on the ground in Syria and a whole lot of other places. There's not a whole lot of difference between President Obama's retrenchment and Mr. Trump's America first. There are common themes there," Hayden added. 

Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the United Nations is not the place for a speech that is "dispirited and defeatist, this is not the faculty lounge. This is the United Nations. We are the most powerful country in the world."

Nicole Wallace, former communications director for President George W. Bush said, "He didn't give a speech in that room as if he were in constant contact with anybody else in the room. He gave a speech as though he never talked to these people."

Hayden agreed, pointing out the example of President Bush's relationships with other world leaders, saying Bush "would have done so much behind the scenes… He actually worked on the issues and invested his personal energy — and I should add, personal prestige and political capital — in risking that, in order to make things different in the world. And sadly, I just don't think we're seeing much of that in the last half a dozen or eight years."

Haass said other leaders take their cues from the U.S. president and "the world is only willing to do a lot if we're willing to do a lot. If we're not willing to do a lot, the Middle East is what you get."

Host Joe Scarborough said America remains important on the global stage and "we remain the indispensable nation, whether Americans like it or not in 2016, that's who we are."

Gen. Hayden said, "This doesn't become a game of don't pay or pay. It becomes a game of pay me now or pay me later, and pay me later is always more expensive."

Hayden also weighed in on a bombing that killed aid workers in Syria, in which a U.S. officials blamed on Russia.

Hayden was unsure if the Russians meant to attack the aid workers as it's "more difficult to determine . . . my predecessor warned me never attribute to malice that can be explained by incompetence. We'll have to see what the cause of this was."

When asked whether it was difficult to tell the difference between a convoy carrying aid and rebel fighters, Hayden said, "You really do wonder how that could have happened — a large vehicle, a large truck, a convoy that had just passed through government-controlled areas."

The Russian government must shoulder the blame for the situation, said Hayden, and  "the Russian air force has weaker protocols than we do when it comes to actually putting ordnance on a target.

"I don't have to prove malevolence here to actually blame the Russians for this. They are part and parcel for creating the situation in which this kind of thing would be, frankly, likely," he added. 

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President Barack Obama's speech at the United Nations General Assembly was a good overview of world situations, but showed he has little willingness to participate in world affairs...
Michael Hayden, Obama, UN Speech, World Affairs
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 10:34 AM
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