The former president Barack Obama has urged the world to continue to stand against “aggressive” nationalism while he was in Indonesia.
The former president made the comments while talking to a crowd where he lived as a child; in Indonesia. Mr Obama also spoke of how much the capital; Jakarta, had improved since he had moved back to the United States.
Speaking specifically of the United States, he said that “some countries” have adopted “an aggressive kind of nationalism,” according to The Guardian, and have “increase resentment of minority groups.”
“It’s been clear for a while that the world is at a crossroads. At an inflection point,” Obama said.
He said that increased prosperity had been accompanied by new global problems, adding that as the world confronts issues ranging from inequality to terrorism, some countries – both developed and less developed – had adopted a more aggressive and isolationist stance.
“If we don’t stand up for tolerance and moderation and respect for others, if we begin to doubt ourselves and all that we have accomplished, then much of the progress that we have made will not continue,” Mr Obama said.
“What we will see is more and more people arguing against democracy, we will see more and more people who are looking to restrict freedom of the press, and we’ll see more intolerance, more tribal divisions, more ethnic divisions, and religious divisions and more violence,” Obama said.
He never mentioned Donald Trump by name, but he chose a range of topics that could be seen to apply to politics in both Indonesia and the US, including fake news powered by social media, resentment, attacks on institutions, and ignorance of other peoples.
The former president has taken a step back from US politics and chosen not to comment extensively on the Trump administration especially in Trump’s exit from the Paris climate deal. He was however keen to speak up one of his own accomplishments.
“In Paris, we came together around the most ambitious agreement in history about climate change, an agreement that even with the temporary absence of American leadership, can still give our children a fighting chance” he told the crowd in Jakarta.
“First of all, I think it’s important that even though the current US administration has signalled it is going to pull out, technically it’s not out yet,” he said. “Point two is that many of the changes that we locked in during my administration continue.”
Coming back to the overarching theme of “unity in diversity” – Indonesia’s official national motto – Obama warned again where a different path could lead.
“Let’s face it, if people do not show respect and tolerance, eventually you have war and conflict. Sooner or later societies break down.”