"What the president’s speech lacked was sufficient acknowledgment of how difficult it is to realize such noble goals in an often crooked world—or when liberal aspirations clash with more pedestrian but pressing interests. Consider this passage, shortly after discussing the struggle for human liberty and dignity in the Middle East. 'So those of us who believe in democracy, we need to speak out forcefully.' And yet Obama’s own administration, like many before, has applied democracy promotion selectively—promoting it in Myanmar, for example, while cozying up to authoritarians like President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, when the logic of geopolitics prevails," writes CFR's Stewart M. Patrick.
"A coalition of more than 30 countries has unveiled a series of concrete responses to the refugee crisis, giving a glimmer of hope during a week in which world leaders gathered at the UN summit in New York have otherwise failed to offer direct action on refugee issues. Barack Obama announced that the US-led coalition had collectively agreed to roughly double resettlement places for refugees, increase humanitarian aid for refugees by $4.5bn, provide education to 1 million more refugee children, and potentially improve access to legal work for another million adults. Full details were not disclosed, but the move constituted the most concrete set of refugee measures at the UN general assembly," Patrick Kingsley writes for the Guardian.
"Complex and controversial international accords usually take several years to enter into legal force. But the haste on the Paris accord was driven at least in part by the looming American election. Donald J. Trump, the Republican candidate, has vowed to pull the United States out of the accord if he is elected. If the deal comes into legal force before the presidential inauguration, it will take four years under the accord’s rules for the United States to legally withdraw," Coral Davenport writes for the New York Times.