Obama, Taking Aim at Trump, Warns Against ‘Strongman Politics’ in South Africa Speech

Without mentioning President Trump by identify, former President Barack Obama delivered a pointed rebuke of his successor on Tuesday, warning about rising nationalism, xenophobia and bigotry within the United States and world wide, whereas providing a full-throated protection of democracy, range and the liberal worldwide order.

In his highest-profile speech since leaving workplace, delivered in South Africa at an occasion marking the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s delivery, Mr. Obama cautioned that “strongman politics” posed a critical menace to democratic norms, establishments and values. He known as for individuals to embrace the concepts of human rights and equality.

“Look round,” he mentioned. “Strongman politics are ascendant instantly, whereby elections and a few pretense of democracy are maintained, the type of it, however these in energy search to undermine each establishment or norm that offers democracy that means.”

Mr. Obama opened his practically 90-minute speech with a nod to present occasions, saying that instances had been “unusual and unsure” and that “every day’s information cycle is bringing extra head-spinning and disturbing headlines.” He mentioned that leaders embracing the “politics of worry, resentment and retrenchment” had been undermining the worldwide system established after World War II.

“That type of politics is now on the transfer,” Mr. Obama advised a crowd of hundreds at a stadium in Johannesburg. “It’s on a transfer at a tempo that will have appeared unimaginable just some years in the past. I’m not being alarmist; I’m merely stating the details.”

The day earlier than Mr. Obama’s speech, Mr. Trump stood subsequent to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and disputed his own intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Moscow, on the behest of Mr. Putin, interfered within the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Trump mentioned he believed Mr. Putin’s denial, incomes widespread condemnation, even from some members of his own party.

Mr. Obama appeared to take direct purpose at Mr. Trump over his administration’s insurance policies and his propensity for exaggerations and falsehoods. He mentioned he was shocked how the notion of goal fact was now up for debate and the way politicians make up details and stand by their baseless claims even after they’re confirmed improper.

“We see the utter lack of disgrace amongst political leaders, the place they’re caught in a lie they usually simply double down and lie some extra,” he mentioned. “Look, let me say: Politicians have at all times lied, however it was that should you caught them mendacity, they’d be like, ‘Ah, man.’”

Throughout the speech, Mr. Obama returned to the beliefs promoted by Mandela, the anti-apartheid South African chief, saying that his launch from jail in 1990 impressed a wave of racial and gender equality and financial progress practically all over the place. Countries had been lifted out of poverty. Entrepreneurs surfaced from all components of the world.

But the monetary collapse of 2008, Mr. Obama mentioned, ushered in extreme financial hardship, misplaced wages and unemployment that led many individuals to query how drastically the world had modified with globalization and expertise. They grew to become cautious of immigration and denounced highly effective elites in each politics and locations like monetary establishments, he mentioned.

The beliefs promoted by Mandela are actually in danger, he added.

“On Madiba’s 100th birthday, we now stand at a crossroads,” Mr. Obama mentioned, utilizing Mr. Mandela’s clan identify, a time period of affection in South Africa for him. “A second in time wherein two very completely different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and minds of residents world wide. Two completely different tales, two completely different narratives, about who we’re and who we must be.”

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