"What a difference a year makes."
That's how CBS News starts a preview of this year's U.N. General Assembly meetings, which begin this week. And while CBS points out that last year the president was treated with "rock star status," this year presents many more challenges: high unemployment at home, tense relations with the Muslim world, and domestic poverty at an all-time high.
Ironically, then, eradicating poverty is one of the four main goals the president will present during the meetings. Others include improving the U.N.'s peacekeeping and security, promoting human rights, and tackling environmental challenges.
But as National Review points out, those goals and the speeches that will present them may be empty. "Twenty months into the tenure of our most multilateral president, what has [Obama] accomplished at the U.N.?" writer John Bolton asks. "The short answer: Not much." Bolton is a former U.S. representative to the U.N.
For example, last year the president made nuclear non-proliferation a priority. But a year later, Iran and North Korea are closer to, not further from, nuclear weaponry. And just as the U.S. has secured a spot on the Human Rights Council, so too has Libya, while Cuba has obtained the vice chairmanship and Iran has been rewarded with a seat on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
"Given this dismal record, what can we expect from Obama’s upcoming U.N. speech, and what lies ahead in the remainder of his presidency?" Bolton asks. Much of the same, he says -- mostly talk with little accomplished. "Perhaps the most surprising conclusion about Obama’s U.N. record is how anemic it is."
Obama is set to make two speeches this week: one during the U.N.'s anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) meeting on Wednesday, and another during the General Assembly debate on Thursday.