More broadly, we need to foster cooperation and respect among all nations and peoples. As President of the United States, I will work tirelessly to protect America’s security and to advance our interests. But no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century on its own, nor dictate its terms to the world. That is why America seeks an international system that lets nations pursue their interests peacefully, especially when those interests diverge; a system where the universal rights of human beings are respected, and violations of those rights are opposed; a system where we hold ourselves to the same standards that we apply to other nations, with clear rights and responsibilities for all.
The days when Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin could shape the world in one meeting are over. The world is more complex today. Billions of people have found their voice, and seek their own measure of prosperity and self-determination. Over the past two decades, we have witnessed markets grow, wealth spread, and technology used to build – not destroy. We have seen old hatreds pass, illusions of difference lift, and human destiny in the hands of more human beings. Now, we must see that the period of transition which you have lived through ushers in a new era in which nations live in peace, and people realize their aspirations for dignity, security, and a better life for their children. That is America’s interest, and I believe that it is Russia’s as well.
I know that this future can seem distant. Change is hard. In the words of that NES student back in 1993, the real world is not so rational as on paper. But think of the change that has unfolded with the passing of time. One hundred years ago, a Czar ruled in Russia, and Europe was a place of Empire. When I was born, segregation was still law in America and my father’s Kenya was still a colony. When you were born, a school like this would have been impossible, and the Internet was known to only a privileged few.
You get to decide what comes next. You get to choose where change will take us. Because the future does not belong to those who gather armies on a field of battle or bury missiles in the ground – the future belongs to young people with the education and imagination to create. That is the source of power in this century. And given all that has happened in your two decades on Earth, just imagine what you can create in the years to come.
Every country charts its own course. Russia has cut its way through time like a mighty river through a canyon, leaving an indelible mark on human history as it goes. As you move this story forward, look to the future that can be built if we refuse to be burdened by the old obstacles and old suspicions; look to the future that can be built if we partner on behalf of the aspirations we hold in common. Together, we can build a world where people are protected, prosperity is enlarged, and our power truly serves progress. Thank you.
(Source: White House)