As former President Barack Obama visited Japan on Sunday, he had a few choice words on how exactly he would shape the future of America.
Speaking at an opinion leaders event sponsored by a private organization in Japan, Obama admitted that much of his work since leaving the Oval Office has been focused on nurturing a younger generation of leaders.
“If I could do that effectively, then — you know — I would create a hundred or a thousand or a million young Barack Obamas or Michelle Obamas,” Obama said. “Or the next group of people who could take that baton in that relay race that is human progress.”
According to the Washington Examiner, the forum covered a wide array of topics, including the efforts by the Obama Foundation to engage in the digital sphere to help young leaders get more connected across the globe.
The former president said the recent March for Our Lives demonstration is just one example of young people making a difference and their ability to bring about change, which he claimed was needed in order to knock down the “old men” in power.
“A lot of our problems are caused by old men,” he said. “No offense, men who are old.”
Obama also pointed to America’s mainstream media and social media, saying the public can be easily swayed by politicians and public figures who want to deliver a certain narrative.
The former president bemoaned the current news and social media environments in which people are too easily able to find news that fits their personal narratives and signaled that he is seeking a way to create a more productive forum through his Obama Foundation.
“One of the things we’re going to be spending time on, through the foundation, is finding ways in which we can study this phenomenon of social media and the Internet,” Obama said.
“To see are there ways in which we can bring people from different perspectives to start having a more civil debate and listen to each other more carefully,” he added.
One was plenty.
— Sir 'New Rule' Mycroft (@sir_mycroft) March 25, 2018
While attending the conference, the former commander-in-chief also addressed the heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea since he left office.
Obama highlighted the difficulty in negotiating with the rogue regime about nuclear weapons, which he claims is partly due to its geographical isolation which limits trade and travel sanctions.
“North Korea is an example of a country that is so far out of the international norms and so disconnected with the rest of the world,” Obama said, stressing that persuading North Korea to give up such weapons would be difficult.
However, the former president stressed that countries such as China, South Korea and Japan working together could aid in furthering pressure on the country and that it is better than nations working alone.
Obama also said efforts on behalf of the U.S. toward reigning in Iran’s nuclear weapons programs had been more of a success since there had been more leverage, though he claims those benefits do not extend so much to Kim Jong Un’s state.
“That makes them less subject to these kinds of negotiations,” he said, recalling his administration’s approach to the issue and insisting that the U.S.-Japan alliance remains a strong one.
“Our view has always been that we would prefer to resolve these issues peacefully,” Obama stated, adding that otherwise, the “cost in terms of human life would be significant.”
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