Obama on the Global Common Good

January 21, 2009

President Obama Delivering His Inaugural AddressFrom Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address:

“To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you. . . . And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect.”

Wow: was President Obama secretly listening in at our CGD event on the outlook for Obama’s Development Policy last Friday? Was David Gergen inspired by his fellow panelists and the engaged crowd to find a way to whisper in the new U.S. president’s ear?! Did President Obama somehow find time to read The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President!?!

The ONE campaign, 2008 winner of CGD's Commitment to Development Award, has smartly urged sending thanks for these statements of global solidarity in the development project.

I listened to the president’s speech in a judge’s chambers where the lawyerly group thrilled to “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” But for me it was those expressions of global solidarity that thrilled. And these allusions to the challenge of inequalities here in the United States, with obvious implications for inequalities everywhere:

“a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but the reach of our prosperity, on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart, not out of charity but because it is the surest route to our common good.”
My italics, with an immodest reference to a recent speech to the Dutch Scientific Council. What did you hear in the inaugural address that sheds light on how the Obama administration will change (or not!) the U.S. relationship with the developing world?


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.